Follow-up: Weird Wesleyan?

360268455_d39790574dIn fall 2006, in reaction to a series of crackdowns including the painting over of the Butts tunnels, relocation of the Halloween party from Eclectic, and the infamous chalking ban, and concern over the loss of Weskids’ “counter-cultural edge“, a Facebook group sprung up calling for students to Keep Wesleyan Weird. Here’s Roth’s statement from back in the day on the subject (for inspiration, ya know?). You may have– like me– first heard mention of the student-led “Keep Wesleyan Weird” campaign in Margot Boyer-Dry ’11‘s Senior Class Welcome. Since then, I’ve been a-wonderin: Have we been keeping it weird?
First off, a submission that gets right to the point:

Weird is a social construct. –Anon ’14

You weren’t the only one questioning what it is to be weird, Anon ’14.

as a freshman i entered a nics 6 bathroom and saw a large quantity of human hair in the trashcan, arranged in such a way that it looked like it could have still been attached to a head… i really cautiously pulled on a lock of the hair. to my relief, it was not attached to anything. i was really high when this happened, and maybe objectively it’s not that weird, but weirdness is in the eye of the beholder. –Anon ’13

You may even have a preference of weirdness.

I prefer the everyday acts of weirdness done not to create a spectacle but with genuine purpose, like the group of bros currently practicing some sort of interpretive dance routine outside of Usdan … I admire their devotion and total lack of embarrassment. You do you, bro dancers.–Ella Dawson ’14

Weird is a social construct? Obvs. Only, I daresay Wesleyan’s construction of weirdness differs from Amherst’s. If I learned one thing from this write-in, it’s that Wesleyan’s out-of-the-ordinary happenings and simultaneous criticism is exactly what makes Wesleyan “weird”.  There’s something about these unusual or inexplicable happenings that captivates Wesleyan’s students and fans.

After the jump– the rest of your submissions! (seriously, you want to read them)

In 2011, Margot Boyer-Dry ’11 said, “You’d be hard-pressed to find another place where people are so excited about raw milk coops, acro-yoga, and entrepreneurial peer haircutting.” Though 4 years at Wes have numbed me to thinking of these things as weird at all, some write-ins suggest otherwise:

My friend and I met to do acro yoga in Zelnick (the glass boss) at 3.00 PM on a Friday. When I got there he was ass naked doing a head stand with his junk facing Foss Hill. –Anon ’14

An array of glass jars full of human hair displayed on a shelf in a senior house. There must have been about 20 up there in total, each labeled in meticulous penmanship with the name of the individual who had contributed. I guess what was weirdest is that none of this seemed weird at all. I saw similar hairy artifacts in at least two other dorm settings… –Anon ’13 
(SHOUT OUT TO CLAIRE DOUGHERTY13)

Sure, Wesleyan students take part in some progressive or uncommon practices that could be labeled as “weird” to the rest of America. But there’s also the inexplicable.

A Westco roomful of kids really, really enthusiastically flossing. Just… flossin their teeth like it was the cool new thing to do. –Anon ’16

SCIE150. Full of students. Singing the fight song because Obama won? –Anon ’14

Someone shouting, “I’ve had half a bottle of jack and I’ve got two nerf guns!” while drunkenly firing at zombies in an attempt to get to the film series showing of “Die Hard” during Humans verse Zombies. –Anon ’14

It was my first week living in program housing and I came downstairs because I wanted to snack on the animal crackers I had bought before leaving for Wes. The crackers were still in my food cabinet but someone had taken the them out of the big plastic teddy bear container they came in and put them into an uncovered mixing bowl. I later found the original container on the top shelf of our book case in the living room filled with a diarrhea colored liquid and with what looked like a gray soggy pancake floating on top.
?   —Yona Roberts-Golding ’14  

During senior week, my friends and i came across a shirtless man in the glass hallway between WesShop and WestCo. His chest, arms, and face were streaked with mud. He was staring at a pole with childlike glee, happily banging a stick against it. Sometimes his head would bob along to the music, but I will never forget how intently his gaze was fixed on the pole. No pictures, unfortunately. –Anon ’15

In winter of my freshman year, my hallmates and I looked out the window of Clark 4 that overlooked the field and saw a girl in light clothing dancing aggressively on the pitcher’s mound. This wasn’t weird on its own. What was weird was that she was dressed in a fleece despite the freezing weather, had no music, did not respond to anyone who tried to speak or dance with her, and continued dancing for probably 3-4 hours. I don’t think anyone ever figured out who she was. —Brendan O’Donnell ’14

juicing multiple purple cabbages and drinking at least 2 cups each of the stuff in order to feel all funny when your blood hella alkalizes. bottom of foss mud fight at 3am/mud swimming. –Anon ’14

Uh…aside from streaking, a blowjob in the middle of a fountain backyard party, lots of drugs (an 18g blunt? 100+ doses of acid?)… acro-yoga everywhere, slack-lining, flaccidly posturing protests… high-concept sculpture installations…I kind of feel numb to “weird”. I’d say all of the craziness that went down during the Snowpocalypse (2011) takes the cake. You really want one answer? The shit that goes on in Beta’s basement during pledge. Or anything that goes on in the Gote Room in Eclectic. Or maybe that naked guy who cock-blocked a threesome.–Anon ’13

I know the “weirdest” thing I’ve witnessed has either been waking up from a drunken stupor after a prom dress rugby tournament at MIT to see crossfaded streakers run by my window celebrating Osama Bin Laden’s death (but really, was that the proper way to commemorate?) or the spectrum-wide queer crowd at last year’s queer prom.

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Additionally, to absolutely no one’s surprise, some of Wesleyan’s favorite things pervaded the response to our inaugural Wesleying write-in:

SEX

A student violently masturbating at night as they were leaning against the back of Crowell. By “violently”, I mean head looking up at the stars, beer can in one hand, the other hand…violently masturbating. #Nosingle (?) –Anon ’15

A group of five people hefting a six-foot-long cloth penis, carrying it from Exley to somewhere else. It was for one of our sexual-health festivals, I presume, but it was deeply surprising for innocent freshman me. –Anon ’14

A threesome on foss was going on right next to be and my friend where they kept shouting one of the girl’s name so we knew who it was –Anon ’15

FOOD

Free pizza on 4/20. Maybe not the weirdest thing, but definitely a unique happening. — Anon ’16

The other day I was working on the 3rd floor of Olin. I looked over to my right, and noticed a full bag on onions sitting on the desk of the gentleman to my right. I found this funny. A few minutes after I noticed the bonions (bag of onions), he took one out of the bag and ate it. Layer by layer, he ate it. Didn’t even offer to share. —Spencer Burnham ’14

NUDITY

naked farmers and a jar of pee used to keep away the deer. –Anon ’15

Naked party on home my sophomore year. It was raining outside so someone decided their clothes were just too wet to deal with and pretty soon everyone–even the band–was naked. PSafe came to break up the party and took one look at everyone and walked away. –Anon ’14

There was a guy making burgers in the nude on Foss. all he was wearing was an apron. —Tom Ogden ’17

SKEPTICISM

It used to be common for students to break into buildings (not just the tunnels) at night and throw impromptu parties. Like the naked swimming party that happened in 2011 after a few people (ahem) broke into the pool. And the “Bar Night/Dance Party” that someone threw inside Zelnick Pavilion. Unfortunately, Wes seems to be becoming much less weird. —Brian Lee ’13

MUSIC/CONCERTS

Halloween 2009: An a cappella group emerges from darkness and fog, singing “Don’t Stop Believing.” Then all my friends punch each other. This happened several weeks after I witnessed a lone saxophonist playing the blues on a misty Andrus Field at around midnight. —Eliza Fisher ’13

Fall 2011. My sophomore year. Slender James rehearsing outside, relishing the early autumn air. Up walks a motley crew of artistic, free-thinkin types, some known to me, some not. The group is walking as one, bound by a large grid of 2×4’s, the whole item being carried laterally. With the exception of one pair, each of the 9 squares of the grid is occupied by a single person. After some pleasantries, a decision arises organically to follow this crew wherever they might go, singing all the while. We minstrel our way from the CFA to WestCo, parting the throngs of tailgating football enthusiasts and seeming to confuse many and bring joy to some. —Nate Repasz ’14

A baby (i.e. human child under the age of 2 years) in a stroller at some random eclectic show last semester. Hir’s hippie parents wheeled hir around the porch and on the dance floor for about twenty minutes before disappearing. —Chris Caines ’16

and PARTIES

I saw someone go into a party and pee in all the shampoo bottles in this senior Fauver room and then immediately leave. –Anon ’16 

Sex party at eclectic in fall 2009. Hands down the wildest thing i’ve seen at wesleyan. there were sleeping bags and tents set up in the third floor big room just for banging. wes has gone soft since then. –Anon ’13

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The wonderful behind the @WeirdWes told us about hir inspiration:

Arriving at Wesleyan was a huge shock to my system having transferred in from a very large and conservative school. At said conservative university, I had a blog detailing all of the things I saw and the people I dealt with that made my experience there so trying. It was a sarcastic and satirical and cynical writing project, and it was a great way for me to make it through my challenges that year. @WeirdWes started as a way for me to stay connected with the audience of that blog, made up of family and friends from high school and elsewhere. Wesleying picked up the account within 12 hours of my first few tweets, and posted an endorsement online. That encouragement showed me that my observations had struck a chord within the student body, and it was an idea worth sticking with.Aside from making me (and hopefully many others) laugh, chronicling Wesleyan’s weirdness in 140-character memoirs has enhanced my appreciation for the quirky and the absurd. I love and embrace the “unusual” that makes my everyday life here what it is.@WeirdWes highlights all of the things about Wesleyan that brought me here from Conservative University, and it serves as my ode to abnormal.Thank you to everyone who follows along, retweets, favorites, or just cracks a smile reading through the feed every once in a while.

I also spoke to one of the legendary founders of Wesleying, Xue, and asked what the weirdest thing she’d witnessed was:

Weirdest thing… There were a bunch of weird, beautiful things. I think one that really shows the passion of the students was what happened with the squash courts before they were gutted and renovated. Different groups of kids started just showing up and making use of the abandoned courts, with their high ceilings and empty floors and tiny doors. Some moved in with mattresses and violins and houseplants and called it Moon University. Others turned them into studios and workshops to make art and props for theater and film productions– Part of this group eventually became Court 13 of Beasts of the Southern Wild fame. It was really cool to see all these spaces claimed and used instead of being vandalized or something.

Relatedly, the first Tour de Franzia was put together by students in my class year and they also arranged another event that went something like… Teams of students each “invested” a 30-rack and hid them around campus, then provided clues about their location to a central organizer. On the night of the event, the clues were distributed to all the teams and it was like a campus-wide beer-finding scavenger hunt. The catch was that there was a CONTAGIOUS MOBILE PARTY VIRUS, which was a separate group of students wandering around dancing with a boombox. If they ran into your team, you had to immediately stop the scavenger hunt and join the party. It was kind of like the Boogie Club but with mysteries and beer.

When asked if we’ve successfully kept Wesleyan weird, she simply said, “I think you guys are a better judge of that than I am.”

So there it is. Wesleying looks forward to whatever WeShenanigans (coining that) take place this year. Let’s be real, it’s been WAY too quiet– get on it! Shout-out to these folks for keeping it interesting around here.

PSA: Don’t be this senior, folks.

I am sad to say that, though maybe it was in nostalgia-tainted distant memory, Wes isn’t that overtly weird these days. There is weirdness, but it’s mostly that individuals are more open about their quirks. I think the weirdest thing I’ve seen has been streakers or spiderman-costumed folks running through large lecture classes. I wish I did more to make this place a little spicier. –Anon ’14

Or better yet, be this senior, but seize your last opportunity to keep Wes fuckin’ weird.

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**All photos from Wesleying archives.

13 thoughts on “Follow-up: Weird Wesleyan?

  1. Jennifer Michtavy

    –Brendan O’Donnell ’14-

    THIS WAS ME DANCING!! I had headphones on so hence the dancing and not responding….I was dancing off the stressful day..sending it out to the universe…..was a 5th year Masters Student at the time!!

    1. BZOD

      Whoa! That’s awesome! We never had any idea who you were and had all sorts of theories (“Is this a social experiment?” and “Is she cold and trying to warm up?” were a few) about why you were dancing for so long. Crazy to think that, several years later, the rest of the story has finally come out.

  2. pyrotechnics

    …almost none of this seems particularly weird, and almost all of it is based on nudity, sex, alcohol, or drugs being ‘weird.’ Wes is so much weirder than that. What about people having full-on philosophy conversations anonymously via spray paint and sharpie in the tunnels? Or discovering a room filled floor to ceiling in packing peanuts? Or walking by a tree with a kid in it meowing at you? Or a professor doing an interpretive dance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a History seminar? Or walking up to a total stranger and asking them to hold your foot before entering small talk? Or the published letters of Martin Benjamin ’57? Or the fact that Beta was once a co-ed vegetarian co-op? Or the name “Espwesso?” Or a guy walking around with a bag of rubber meerkats? Or someone standing in front of the President’s house, shouting “IN MY MAN-PANTS, I AM INVINCIBLE!!!” while dead sober?

    1. Jason

      weird is in the eye of the beholder…….the one problem with WES is its over righteous snobs who feel that they know the answers or are far superior to others based on their intelligence….Wesleyan is a cool place but its filled with some large headed over indulgent individuals who have no context into the real world…the weird thing is that people used to be cool and over the past 8 years i have watched it slowly dissipate into people who are so detached they shit out of their necks……………..

  3. a. rot. stein.

    freshman year we used to have these parties where we’d drink wine and also eat cheese. i was thinkin’ like, “what is this, old people pretend-time?” so funny. so weird.

  4. bumbum

    i don’t think wesleyan has gotten less weird. i think it’s just that by the time you get to senior year, you have gotten used to weird. all the freshman and transfers think wesleyan is super weird. they’re just not desensitized yet.

  5. Jesse Ross-Silverman

    people doing kegstands on foss at sunrise the morning of graduation was a definite #thisiswhy moment

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