Video from the event is here.
Last night, hundreds (by my count, 400+) students, faculty, and staff piled into Beckham Hall for what became an over-three-hour long panel/discussion on issues of diversity and community at Wesleyan. By the end, as the clock approached 11:00 PM, there were still at least 200 attendees remaining. By all accounts, the forum was an immensely powerful and public out-letting of emotion and outrage at our community’s collective failings to address intense ruptures in Wesleyan’s identity as “Diversity University.”
Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Sonia Manjon moderated the discussion, leading a panel that included President Michael Roth ’78, Director of Public Safety Dave Meyer, students Jalen Alexander ’14, Dorisol Inoa ’13, Chantaneice Kitt ’13, and Evan Okun ’13, Professor Alex Dupuy and Professor Elizabeth McAlister. The original intent of the forum was to address diversity in light of recent events, most notably hateful and racist comments on the ACB after Homecoming Weekend, the use of race in Public Safety reports, and allegations of unnecessary use of force by Public Safety, but the conversation touched on many, many more areas of community dysfunction.
There were a few things that were made amply clear to everybody last night, if they weren’t clear already:
- We’ve got problems. Big, scary institutional and individual problems and shortcomings. We all do. Every one of us.
- There are a lot of people who really give a shit. Not only was this evident in attendance, but in the words, actions, and thoughts of many. This carries from those brave students who shared their own horrifying stories all the way to President Roth at the helm of the University, who remarked: “I take this very seriously. It’s so corrosive. It undermines the very fabric of this university. This can’t go on. … If we have screwed up, we will fix it. What you’re describing to me wrecks the University’s mission.”
- Dialogue is important, and this kind of forum needs to happen regularly, but actions speak louder than words. Right now, there is a real limit to the trust that our community affords itself and the administration to actually address these issues. Ostensible, and more importantly tangible progress in institutionally healing our community is necessary to shore up that lack of trust.
I cannot possibly cover everything that was said last night, or even cover everything that was particularly important or significant. There’s just far too much. The above is simply three broad brush strokes of a metaphorical mural of emotion and dialogue. Instead, here are some links to various videos of the event, which you should consider watching.
If anyone has something else they remember from the forum which they think is particularly poignant or pertinent, sound off in the comments.
Our community is wounded, and we need everyone’s help to truly heal.
Photos courtesy of Our Dear Leader Zach.