The Wesleyan website has been needing an overhaul for awhile, and after yesterday’s unveiling, it clearly got a major one. It seems more functional than it used to be, and it looks easier to find things than before. It’s more interactive – this Academic Sampler thing is cool.
But why is the entire site now an Admissions brochure? I wasn’t aware that we need to recruit new talent this desperately.
The real big problem is the ill-advised “Are You Wesleyan?” series on the Admissions page, a series of trite rhetorical questions that are supposed to define our exceptional Wesleyan character. Or reveal our gloriously unique lack of definition, or something.
It’s more than a matter of taste. Yes, it’s clearly lame and makes Wesleyan students sound like tools. But moreover, it’s just trying way too hard. Why are you trying so hard, Admissions? It’s unseemly.
Applications are at a record high, and we already have a bigger draw than our peer institutions. Over the past few years Wesleyan has somehow greatly increased its cachet among applicants, without marketing itself as aggressively (and, well, desperately) as this Admissions page does.
Don’t mess with that! Whatever we’ve been doing has clearly been working. Advertising this blatant and un-self-aware will definitely not make Wes any more desirable than it already is to prospective students, and may well turn away those interesting, intellectually engaged applicants whose sensibilities are assaulted by the infuriatingly eager tone this site is trying to hustle them with.
Homeboy Ezra Silk ’10 ranted effectively about why the new Admissions page is so awful on the Blargus:
After seeing this nauseating trivialization of the entire Wesleyan student body on the new Wesleyan.edu, a strange, disorienting feeling overcame me. Walking around campus, I experienced a new tingle of camaraderie and joy with every passing face. I felt one with my fellow students in a way I never have before. “You’re not nearly as much of a cliché as Admissions thinks you are,” I thought, as someone hurried by. “Neither are you!” I thought to another. “Or you, or you, or you!”
The above poetic rendering is probably not what the adults who run this place think of us. At least, I hope not. This is obviously targeted towards high school kids who can’t yet understand what Wesleyan is actually like. So, perhaps it is more offensive to the intelligence of high school kids than it is to us. But I’m not so sure.
[…] What exactly is the message, here, that Admissions is sending? It’s pretty clear: We’re philosophical, we like to read books, we’re liberal, we’re hip, we’re interdisciplinary, we like to party, we’re dedicated intellectuals.
Sounds pretty good, right? But add all these things together (plus the infuriating tone) and we come off like a bunch of grade A douchebags.
Wesleyan is what it is. Don’t try to sum it up with a series of pithy statements that define us so heavy-handedly. That only trivializes what actually sets Wesleyan apart, which is something Admissions probably isn’t capable of expressing without this kind of triviality.
If you want to know what Wes is like, high school kids, talk to Wesleyan students. Once we stop contemplating infinity or quoting TV shows or whatever it is we apparently do all the time, we will probably give you more to form an opinion of Wesleyan character with than the packaged version you’ll get from something like this site.
So, University website redesign team, thanks for the effort. But whoever is behind this “Are You Wesleyan?” thing, please understand that general student reactions, a Twitter meme, and this post all show that we are really not amused.