On the Record with President Michael Roth: Sexual Assault, Frats, Need Blind

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Beginning this semester, Wesleying will hold semi-regular meetings with President Michael Roth to ask all the questions about Wesleyan University that we have wanted, but never previously had the chance, to ask him. We have quite a bit of catching up to do. As Thursday, Nov. 20 was the first of these meetings, editors Samira, kitab, and Gabe, with input from Wesleying staff, used our time to ask a variety of questions about relevant issues from the past few years. As per their request, we informed the President’s Office beforehand on the general topics we wished to cover.

Our half-hour conversation, which we are posting here in its entirety, covers sexual assault procedure, coeducation of residential fraternities, fundraising, the endowment, need-blind admissions, and academic programs. This interview was edited for clarity.

Wesleying: Recently, a number of Wespeaks have been published by sexual assault survivors who said they felt victimized by the judicial process, while other students have reported feeling re-traumatized by the process. How are you planning to reform the judicial process of sexual assault and to better support survivors?

President Michael Roth: That’s a great question. The process we have for adjudicating sexual assault is the product of task forces that involved students, alumni, parents, faculty, and staff over the last five years. We continue to look for ways that are sensitive to the needs of the survivors of the attacks or assaults or misconduct—it varies greatly—and at the same time protect that process so it’s fair to all parties. So whenever I hear that a person who survived an assault feels re-traumatized by the process of having to talk about it, I try to think of ways that you could make that process easier on the survivor who’s already suffered something without making it impossible for someone who was wrongly accused or identified from having to defend himself or herself—usually it’s himself.

We continue to look at not just things in the Argus, but to talk to survivors who we work with and to see how to do it, and to talk to other groups, like the Office of Civil Rights, and now there’s a whole industry of consultants in the field. We try to see what are the best practices that protect the rights of survivors and of those who are accused, so that if the survivor chooses to use the criminal justice system outside the school, we haven’t compromised their ability to do so. But every time you have to report something that was so traumatic, there is the danger that it’s a painful thing to do. So we try to involve CAPS and other people so that we can minimize that pain, although I don’t know if we can eliminate it because just going over it again is a challenge.

A lot of the people who are writing Wespeaks have felt discouraged from going through the process, because of what they see as the school’s bad record in actually getting justice for the survivors. So they feel that the system is set up against them and against having to report and go through the steps. They’ve felt that it’s biased from the start against them.

I don’t think that’s true. I know that the men who have been accused also feel that it’s biased against them, as you’ve probably seen in recent reports both locally and nationally. What we try to do is figure out a way that treats the person who’s making the report of sexual assault with support and fairness, but I realize that if you don’t get the result you expect, you don’t think the process is a good one, and that’s true almost all the time. And those that do get the result they want are not writing about it, and I don’t expect them to. That would be really re-traumatizing.

That doesn’t meant the system is perfect, but I do think it’s important that Wesleyan has expelled people, suspended people, and we’ve found people not responsible. Each case is very different from one another, and I think the panel is trained and does the best it can to try to reach a fair conclusion. I don’t think I can think of a case that was adjudicated where the person says, yes, they agree on what happened. So I’m not satisfied that we have the perfect system, but I do think that we are trying to support the people who report these assaults or misconduct—sometimes they’re not assaults; they’re reported as misconduct—but also to make sure that the process is one that withstands scrutiny and that would be fair. We look at all of these reports and we do ask ourselves, “How can we create a process that’s more fair and supportive without just saying what the outcome will be before we start the process?”

We wanted to know what you see the role of fraternities and even societies on campus being, say, five years from now, looking into the future beyond the recent events of this semester? Do you see the roles changing, staying the same?

Well, there won’t be any single sex residential Greek organizations in five years. So that’s a change for some of them. In that sense, they’ll resemble societies—I guess we now call them co-ed Greek organizations. I used to say co-ed fraternities but people kept saying we can’t say that. I think that it’s very possible that we will have what I think of as the best part of these organizations, that they self-govern, have traditions, are semi autonomous. They will have to be inclusive and they’ll have to be safer than they’ve been in the past. I think they can get there if they want to. It’s not clear to me that there is consensus yet among the members of those groups that they want to become more inclusive, and if they don’t have with women as equal and full members, then they wont exist and residential organizations at Wesleyan. They may exist still as clubs but they won’t exist as residential organizations.

fratsWhat has been the alumni response so far, and the response of parents of fraternity members, to the coeducation decision? 

I had this huge binder of tons of responses. They’re really all over the place. People said, “Well, the older alumni will give you a hard time.” It really wasn’t that at all. I was sitting at a football game this year, I guess it was homecoming, in front of two guys who graduated in the ‘50s, a long time ago. As it turns out, they’re from Alpha Delta Phi, which is where I was—am—a member. They said, “Oh, Roth, you remember when we let women in Alpha Delta Phi?” I said, “When I was here, it seems like it was already done. It was pretty balanced. I’m told it happened a few years before, but it just seemed like a natural thing.” And they said, “Yeah, we don’t really remember.”

[Editor’s note: Alpha Delta Phi initiated its first co-educational pledge class in 1973; Wesleyan University as a whole returned to co-education in 1970, after allowing women from 1872 through 1912.]

It turned out all three of us had worked in the kitchen at the Star and Crescent. They said one time the steward who worked in the kitchen came up to them [years later, when they were on campus visiting], and it was a woman, and they said, “How could you be the head of the kitchen; you’re a woman!” And she said, “Well, because I’m the head of the kitchen. Get out!” Or whatever. [Laughs.] And they were laughing about it, and said, “Yeah, we were so surprised, and then we realized, everything seemed to be fine, and everything was working well. We don’t really remember when it happened.” That to me was the perfect way for things to happen—it just happened. It’s not always a paradise for sure; there are conflicts and issues, like any other place where people live. They were all in favor of this stuff, the coeducation mandate.

There were other people who say, “It’s freedom of association. I think guys should be able to live with guys. And women should be able to live with women.” And there are people, like me, who think, well, you wouldn’t say that if you were talking about race. And most of them wouldn’t. And I don’t see the big difference. I’ve wrestled with this over the last several months, trying to think if there was a good argument, and I don’t know if it’s really about argument. I think some people see that, yeah, this is like race, in the sense that all of these Greek organizations excluded African Americans; all of them excluded Jews; many excluded Catholics, at some point in their history. And then they changed. This seems to me like that kind of change.

And some parents and some alumni don’t see it that way. They like the other changes—it’s not like they don’t all think those were good—but this is different. In the end, a lot of us don’t see the difference, so we think it’s important as part of our housing program. We didn’t say you can’t have an exclusive club that’s not tied to residential life; that seems like it would be really overreaching into the lives of students beyond the housing program. Some schools have done that; they say, “If you have a club on campus that excludes Jews or excludes Latinos, we would disband that club.” We probably would, but I’m not sure on what grounds, actually. I think, right now, what we’ve decided to do is to say, “Our housing program, we’re not going to have exclusion a priori on the basis of gender.”

I’ll give you one last anecdote. I had a parent come up to me and say he was really disappointed because he had been an active fraternity member and he wanted his son to have the same experience of camaraderie and responsibility and governing yourself, planning things. I said, “He can still have that. I had that too, at my fraternity.” “Oh, you were at a fraternity!” “Yeah, but we had women. And it still works. You can still have all of those things, and not exclude a group.” And he said, “Oh, alright, we’ll see.” And I have a feeling that’s what they said about other groups: “Well, they can have their own group!” We say “sororities,” but they used to say, “Jews can have their own group,” or, “blacks can have their own group.” I don’t think that’s really in accord with the direction of our campus learning policies. I think the reaction has been 2:1 in favor, to get to the core of your question, which surprised me. I thought there would be more people opposed, actually, than there are. But some people care about it very much. I hope they come around.

Since the University began its major fundraising campaigns—This Is Why, Because—which started last year, along with a more visible push for alumni donations, engagement, and events, how have those actually affected the endowment? How much fundraising has happened? And what’s been the most effective there? 

We’ve raised about $350 million towards a $400 million goal, and that includes annual fundraising and most of the campaign. Endowment is the biggest bucket, that’s what we’re trying to raise most of the money for, to become less dependent on tuition and so we can offer more financial aid.

What has been the most successful, well, there are two different kinds of success: There’s the success around participation—how do you get people to give something, give 20 bucks, give $50—and then how do you get Jane Doe to give $10 million. That’s a different thing. I was just telling some students this—I had lunch over at the Butterfield Dorms—that one of the things that’s so great about Wesleyan donors, I have had no one tell me, “Where can I put my name on a building?” You hear about this: At Lincoln Center, they’re having to sell the name Avery Fisher Hall back to the Fisher family for many millions of dollars, so they can rename it for hundreds of millions of dollars. At Wesleyan, I wish we had someone who was giving hundreds of millions—I’d put their name on my head if they wanted it there. But our donors—and many of them are very generous, they make large gifts—they usually say, “What do you really need it for?”

An endowment is a hard thing to raise money for, because if someone gives us a million dollars for endowment, it’s not like we can spend a million dollars in two years. We have to spend only $50,000 a year. I remember a donor saying to me in my first couple of years, “You know, it doesn’t feel like it’s a million dollar gift, what you’re telling me you’ll do with the money.” I said, “Well, it’s only $50,000 a year.” He said, “Well, I want bigger bang for my buck!” And I think, “No, I don’t want to waste it. It’s more sustainable if we take $50,000 every year, then there’s always a million there, and it grows, and we take $55,000, $60,000…” So I think what’s been very successful is making the case for the fact that, through their donations, they increase our ability to offer better financial aid packages. Through their donations, they create a foundation for academic excellence, for inquiry, for research, and for better teaching. We have an endowment for the College for the Environment, which we just started in this campaign, and it’s fully endowed. We now have an endowment for the Center for the Humanities. All over the country, people are saying, “The humanities can’t raise money.” For 50 years we had no endowment; now we have a $6 million endowment for the Center for the Humanities, which can be used for interdisciplinary purposes. So, on the program side, people have been willing to support our efforts to create more interdisciplinary opportunities for students and teachers, and that’s where we’ve been putting a significant amount of money.

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President Roth joins Board of Trustees chair Joshua Boger ’73, P’06, P’09 and trustee Amy Schulman ’82, P’11 for an event in Boston. 

Another place… is that we’ve been able to raise lots of money—and we need to raise lots more—for internships for students, especially research internships. So the idea that you can go off and get a decent summer job and save some real money and come back to campus. Even when I was here, I was a lifeguard during the summer; I had a little money at the end of the summer, not a lot, but it was enough to support myself when I was doing it. So when we can offer someone, let’s say, a research internship in the summer in a lab, or with a professor in the arts or humanities or social sciences, and give them enough to live on and an experience that’s educational, that’s a really great thing. It’s not exactly financial aid, but it’s, you know, it’s related to financial aid. And people have been very supportive of that. I guess when I started out, I thought, “Well, people should get paid and they shouldn’t [have] volunteer internships,” and then I thought there’s a bigger mix than I realized, and when we can pay students to have an internship, because we have an endowment that gives us that capacity, then everyone wins.

Giving Tuesday is the brainchild of a friend of mine, Henry Timms, who is the chief director of the 92nd Street Y in New York. He created this idea of, you know, Black Friday, Cyber Monday—Giving Tuesday. People all over the world have been activated to make their gifts on that day. And just like the shopping days, people buy more than if you spread it out. So Giving Tuesday is a day that makes people think about philanthropy, and what we’re trying to do—and it’s ambitious—is we want to get a thousand gifts on Giving Tuesday. And we have an alumnus, and a parent, who says if we get a thousand gifts, they will put in an extra $100,000 to a scholarship. So it can be $5, it can be $25, it can be $50, whatever it is. And if we get to a thousand gifts, they will throw in $100,000 for a scholarship, which is pretty cool. We’re trying to get lots of young alumni especially, and seniors and others, just to participate, to be part of this, to add to the financial aid capacity of the school. And then this trustee and his wife will kick in a new $100,000. Anything we can do to get people’s attention will be great. It’s all for financial aid; nothing going to, you know, wherever.

Have you seen any immediate financial effects from getting rid of the need-blind policy? And is there a long-term plan to get back to need-blind?

Our long-term plan is to increase the percentage of budget devoted to financial aid. So I know it sounds better to say our long-term plan is to get back to need-blind, ‘cause it’s faster and catchier, but you know, with the Posse program for example, that’s not blind, that’s very intentional that we decided to do that. And, in fact, schools that are need-blind do things too, but I’m concerned that we increase the percentage of the budget for financial aid—adding money to financial aid. And the campaign’s gonna help us do that. We added some this year, actually; we raised the loan-floor. We used to say that if your family income was $40,000 or less, you had no required loans. We’ve raised that to $60,000 this year. So it’s not need-blind, but for a family that’s making $55,000 a year, asking them to take out a loan, even a small loan, that’s a big deal. So we decided to put more money in that category.

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President Roth meets with 10 veterans who joined Wesleyan’s Class of 2018 through a partnership with the Posse Foundation.

Another thing we hear from students—I’ve been having meetings with students from low-income groups—is that we expect them to earn too much money in the summer. The students tell me, “Look, I’m actually giving the money to my parents, my grandmother,” and so I’m gonna have a report this year, very soon actually, about how we can say, “Alright, let’s add money to the package, so that you don’t have to have such a heavy financial burden.” Because although we say that you don’t have to borrow it, people borrow it, because they don’t earn it, they can’t get the job, or as one student said to me, “I go home, and everybody has the jobs already. There are no jobs in my little town.”

So, if I said to you the most important thing was need-blind, I would raise loans and cut packages, and we could be need-blind. And everybody knows that’s a bad thing. If we’re successful and keep adding money to financial aid, eventually, we’ll be need-blind. But I don’t want to incentivize the wrong thing. I don’t want people telling me, “Oh, we’re this close to need-blind, if we just raise the loan level.” It’s amazing how many people say they’re need-blind, but it all comes out, at the right number. I would rather just say, add money to financial aid. Academic programs, and financial aid, those are my highest priorities. So, we’re doing that; the endowment performance is helping. We have been putting more money in the endowment than we even expected to, and of course the stock market’s been doing well, and we have a good investment office and so, knock on wood, we should be able to continue to do more. But it’s so expensive, these schools, so moderating the price increase is another thing. Another way to get back to need-blind is to raise the tuition 5 percent. And the very rich people don’t care. But there are a lot of people who aren’t very rich, who aren’t needy enough to get big packages, and that’s a big deal. If we had stayed on the previous trajectory, we would be the most expensive school in America. And now we’re not in the top 10 anymore; we’re gonna go down. [Editor’s note: According to a July 2, 2014 Business Insider article, at $61,498 total annual cost, Wesleyan University is the #20 most expensive school in the country, down from #6 in 2013.] And so by sticking with that plan, and evaluating over the long run how we can continue to add money, if we get to need-blind I would be very happy. But I don’t want to make that the goal, because I think we start to assume things that aren’t helpful to students.

Since you brought up academic programs: Are there any plans to diversify courses and majors to include more cultural studies? There’s been a push, for example, for Asian American studies, as well as the recent outcry against the faculty changes in the African American Studies department. Are there plans to diversify those areas?

There are plans to hire in the AFAM studies department; we are building that up. There are no plans that I’m aware of—faculty sometimes create clusters or concentrations—to create additional Asian American studies or other ethnic studies groups. It could happen, [but] it’s not something I’ve heard about. I know in AFAM there are searches going underway, and we’re pretty excited about those early reports. I’m hopeful that we’ll hire regular tenure-track faculty there and that will make a difference. Mostly just where I am really interested is in some movement in the faculty and administration to have more project based learning across the curriculum, that is, more opportunities for students—whatever discipline they’re in, whether it’s religion or ethnic studies or biology or history or dance—to tie their study to active team-based projects. We’re creating this digital design studio where the Art Library used to be. We’re going to create a maker space, I think, in the science complex. I hope over the next few years we’ll have a significantly higher percentage of our classes that involve active student projects that fulfill the requirements for the course. As there are in, let’s say, the data science field today, and other areas, lots of places actually; Sean McCann in the English department gives such a class. It’s project based, though it’s based in literature and American studies. I would like to see more courses in design and design-thinking, whether that’s in interactive design or game design, even things that would be closer to engineering. I mean I think that these are multidimensional disciplines that fit right into the liberal arts, but we’re very thin in that regard. Whatever your major is, these kinds of things would be helpful to you when you go beyond the university.

One final question, to end on a lighter note: What are your Thanksgiving Day plans?

We’re spending Thanksgiving in the Berkshires with two of our three kids, plus a friend of Sophie’s from Vietnam. We’ll have extended family coming to visit, hike, talk and feast on Thursday.

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  • Anon15

    It’s funny how Roth is brings up the issue of need blind and that he is doing his best to keep Wes diverse and that students in the past whose families earned $40,000 or less were not required to take out loans. Though he did mention was that the package of many students isn’t enough to cover their expenses and many of them have to pay for the summer student contribution which can amount to anything from $1,000 to $2,000 a year. Another thing he didn’t mention was that need-blind could be sustained if Wesleyan made cuts to its administration. It’s funny how Roth makes sacrifices to need blind and other programs like AFAM yet he is unwilling to cut down his own salary, and that of his administrators like John Meertz ( who is truly in charge of the administration) so that more money could be used to fund financial aid packages. Not only that why not use some of the endowment money to fund the packages of the poorest students so that they don’t have to take out any more loans? Interesting how that isn’t an option. I recall being at the AFAM meeting last spring were a student asked Roth the question of why didn’t he cut down his own salary and that of the administrators and relocate those funds to AFAM and need blind? The context of this question came after Roth said that there was no money for AFAM and that is AFAM was to be funded they would have to relocate resources from other departments and sources. Being the kind of person he is he dismissed the student and get all defense without really answering the question. In another meeting that I was present the same student asked Roth how is it possible that he says he wants more diversity from southern states (which are predominantly poorer), when Wesleyan labels itself as an institution that will consider a candidate’s financial standing to accept them. (BTW this student was Cesar A. Chavez 15′ who had to drop out of Wesleyan because he refused to take out more loans (which he had to take to cover his student summer contribution, books, and extra supplies, and also because he had to take care of his mother).This need aware strategy seems counterproductive and elitist in you ask me. Personally in terms of the frats, I think it is a good thing that they are going extinct. However, the issue at hand is not that the frats are rape factories but that there hasn’t been enough support for sexual assault survivors. No campaign to sit down and educate students about how to remain safe while they are at parties and how to understand when someone says NO is NO. If Roth cared about the problem he would start a campaign on campus at the beginning of each semester where students would be required to hear to testimonies of sexual assault survivors or at least take a course on sexual assault and consent similar to the alcohol and drugs course students take at the beginning of their freshman year. Yet he does nothing of this sort. It took the courage and organization of survivors and allies constantly protesting and bringing this issue to light for him to even consider regulating the frats, but no other thing is being done. Wesleyan is going down the drain but let’s be honest, it isn’t just Roth he is only the tip of the iceberg. Meertz is the person who is in charge and his sole goal is to make sure Wesleyan keeps making him, the board of trustees, and the administrators money at the expense of students needs and to make sure that significant changes that would upset their whole system are never undertaken. Low income students like Cesar deserved better, sexual assault survivors deserve better, Wesleyan students deserve better!

    • alum

      “I recall being at the AFAM meeting last spring were a student asked Roth the question of why didn’t he cut down his own salary and that of the administrators and relocate those funds to AFAM and need blind? The context of this question came after Roth said that there was no money for AFAM and that is AFAM was to be funded they would have to relocate resources from other departments and sources.”

      That question was actually pretty offensive. Why? Because Roth makes a standard liberal arts college president’s salary. Is it more than enough to live on? Sure. But that’s not fair to tell someone to cut their salary just because they happen to make a lot more than the average American. Roth’s job is also ridiculously difficult. Are you gonna start going around telling doctors to cut their salaries and give the money to patients to spend it on prescriptions? Lawyers to do more pro bono work? Plus, cutting his salary for one department – then what if a second department comes under the gun? Should he cut his salary again? It sets a bad precedent. And why he dismissed the student’s question. Because it had absolutely no place being in the conversation.

      “This need aware strategy seems counterproductive and elitist in you ask me.”

      Admonishing need-aware is contradictory to your previous point of Wesleyan not being able to cover summer expenses – if Wesleyan goes back to need blind with its current endowment, it will have to include MORE loans, not less. You can’t criticize the need aware and the need to reduce loans – you get one or the other (unless you have Amherst’s endowment/student ratio).

      Agreed about the administrators and how there are too many of them.

      • Tired of the BS!

        I think the issue is that Roth out of principal should have reduced his own salary to show that he is truly committed to making Wesleyan affordable. Yes he makes less than most college presidents, but it is still a lot of money. He can easily do without 10,000 that would be enough to fund a max of 5 students’ summer contributions. Sure not a big number of student but still something and he would be contributing to the solution. I’m sure he can find a creative solution like that, interesting that he hasn’t. The whole rhetoric of need aware (about 10 to 20 of candidates will have their incomes be considered for admission) is a label that discourages low income students from considering to apply to wesleyan because Wesleyan is pretty much saying ” we are likely to consider your income status to determine if you get in or not.” That is a horrible message to sent out and it highly contradict Wesleyan’s stance as “diversity university” I think that is something people need to start acknowledging. It is a policy that has been backfiring, less students from low income households are considering Wesleyan because of it. Looking at the most recent classes their members tend to be more affluent than previous classes. I think that is a huge issue that Wesleyan is sweeping under the rug and Roth is complacent in this. Also the endowment may not be big but it is still way bigger than a lot of colleges, I’m sure Wesleyan could sacrifice some of it’s endowment to accept more low income students. We all know Wesleyan is a business, let’s stop pretending like it isn’t. The case in point is that the university isn’t taking the right steps to benefit low income students, sexual assault survivors, and its academic departments like AFAM and Anthro. Why? Cause that would involve investing more money than what the university is willing to invest in. I’m sick of hearing the endowment as an excuse for poor students to be left out. However, in response to Anon 15 I think that it isn’t just Wesleyan it’s the university system of the U.S. It’s so broken and increasingly inaccessible because colleges in this country are businesses not places where hardworking students are entitled to pursue a degree that will make them working members of society. When you have $30,000 in student loans to educate yourself of course you are going to go for careers that will give you the most money but not the ones that could make your grow as a person and make a significant change in society. IMO student debt forces students to pursue jobs that pay bills not that allow them to follow their initial career paths or what they would be more suited to perform. Point aside I think Roth should consider the actions he has taken regarding need blind policy because it is affecting Wesleyan negatively in the long run. I think the fundraising idea is great, but more money should be invested on financial aid not the endowment. Wesleyan should committed to a zero loan policy for students making less than $40,000 this being that they will have their entire expenses covered. But most importantly, Wesleyan should provide emotional support to it’s low income students and more counseling so that they don’t get so lonely and depressed and alienated. Some of my best friends feel so lonely here because they feel like the campus culture doesn’t care about them. They can’t afford to study sometimes because they have to work 3 jobs to sent money back to their families, they are so stressed out because they sometimes run out of minimum amount of money they can make through work study. Add to that the stress of classes and personal problems they face and you have someone who barely gets any aid when they need it.

        • alum

          http://newsletter.blogs.wesleyan.edu/2014/11/22/rothweilcampaigngift/

          Also, sacrificing some of the endowment to accept more low income students is, absolutely and unequivocally, the worst thing Wesleyan could do. Wesleyan is in this situation of not being able to afford need-blind and full need at the same time precisely because the endowment is low. Again, we are in this situation because Wes DIDNT fundraise for the endowment. Amherst, for example, is need-blind not only for US students but international students as well. Why? Because it fundraised and built up its endowment, as did every other need blind school. That’s how endowments and college finances work, there’s no way around it. If you spend what you take in every year, you never grow the endowment.

          The endowment is bigger than a lot of colleges, but those colleges don’t have financial aid policies anywhere in the realm of Wesleyan’s, let alone the Ivies. Look at the need blind schools. Every single one has a larger endowment/student than Wesleyan, with maybe one or two rare exceptions. You need money that Wesleyan simply does not have. Also, equating a lack of money with Wes not acting on sexual assault is pretty silly. That has nothing to do with money. It’s a problem at a ton of schools, and plenty that are wealthier and poorer than Wesleyan.

          You’re sick of hearing about the endowment? Find $250 million lying around somewhere, then you won’t hear about it anymore, because we’d have enough for need-blind.

          Also, I think donating book royalties to financial aid is actually a little creative. Stop using Roth as a scapegoat for Wesleyan making stupid financial decisions 20 years ago.

          Yes, need-aware sucks. But it’s temporary pain until Wes gets its endowment in order.

          • Tired of BS

            Interesting how students and alumni are willing to sacrifice the poor rather than the rich! More fundraising money should go to financial aid, more cuts should be done to the administration, zero loan packages are necessary. This can be done but it isn’t being considered as solutions. Why doesn’t Wesleyan invest in green technologies for instance? Why are they still investing in fossil fuels knowing it is unsustainable? All this questions also need to be asked. I agree that Roth isn’t the main problem. He is merely a tool of john meertz!

          • alum

            “More fundraising money should go to financial aid.”

            That is precisely what the This Is Why campaign is doing – raising money for financial aid. What did you have in mind besides a $400 million campaign?

            “More zero loan packages.”

            Wesleyan just made a change raising the no loan ceiling to families making $60k per year versus the $40k it was previously (Roth was the one who started the no loan below x income policy in the first place).

            You say it can be done, yet it is already being done. As for fossil fuels vs green energy, why not both? Fossil fuels are immensely profitable, and as it’s been pointed out, Wes needs the money. If fossil fuels weren’t worth it, endowments wouldn’t be invested in them. I’d rather have more financial aid because of fossil fuel investment than less aid without it.

          • Alum14

            Let’s keep in mind that even though the original packages of students don’t include loans in some cases they are still required to take out loans because of the student summer contribution which is about 2,000 per student. I think people are missing this. Yes the university can say you have a full ride but you are expected to pay so much. A lot of schools do this and it sucks cause it tends to be deceiving. I say we go for zero loans, zero summer contribution, and higher wages for work study, and more work study hours. Also let’s keep in mind that the University is making a lot of moves to change the current situation. It has been fundraising and it has been trying to do it’s best to accommodate to all students it can, however, I am saddened that they still don’t offer emotional and financial support for low income students. I agree with the previous statements that the university has sacrificed the poor over the rich. This is an issue that gets lost in campus politics, the impact economic policies have had on low income students who are the most affected. From experience I have found it hard to organize low income students for the reasons mentioned in previous comments, they have too much on their plates. However, in other for the situation to improve there will need to be low income students who come forward and make their voices heard and find ways to change the current policies, especially regarding financial aid and work study.

  • fight til the end

    Since when do we define “coeducation” as the exclusive binary of male & female genders? An enlightened understanding of gender identity requires that “coeducation” include all genders, not just the quaint and outdated notion of male and female. Are the fraternities of the future to be the exclusive playground for Mikey’s cis-males and cis-females? Why is he excluding transgender, transexual, genderfuckists, gender dissidents, and other genderqueer members of our community from his idea of coeducation? Mikey the Mastermind’s myopic vision of co-education is a farce.

    • realist

      because people who don’t identify as normal (male/female) comprise about .001% of this campus.

    • XY

      There are no fraternities of the future. This isn’t about excluding trans etc it is specifically about targeting and marginalizing straight men.

      The “coeducation” terminology is just rhetoric, it’s not supposed to make sense practically. Roth just chose it as a term he could throw around to cover up his fraternity ban.

  • Wes is going down fast

    Sigh… I guess this is what happens when a philosophy major becomes the president of a college.

  • Jdkdkdn

    There are black and Jewish fraternities on campus that do not have residential spaces and now never will. I don’t see how Roth justifies this with his argument about gender equating to race.

  • Confused student

    “Our housing program, we’re not going to have exclusion a priori on the basis of gender.”

    But we do have single gender dorms..

  • Former fraternity brother

    I cringe every time Roth pretends he was in a fraternity..

  • Boo this man

    His answer to the question about the response of his ban on Fraternities is absolutely absurd.

    1. Why is he talking about Alpha Delt? It’s not a fraternity. Him talking about some random chat he had with alums doesn’t at all answer the question and honestly sounds made up.

    2. Can he stop pretending like he didn’t ban all fraternities and sororities? He acts like they will survive this yet the charters specifically don’t allow coeducation and he refuses to address this.

    3. He’s gonna compare it to segregation of race or religion? Is he fucking serious? That’s incredibly offensive to me as a black man that he is trivializing racism by making such an absurd comparison. Not too mention Wesleyan does have houses for black students to live together (Malcolm x house) as well as houses for various religious affiliations. Is he too delusional to even realize this hypocrisy?

  • Rothhastogo

    What a scumbag Roth is, and Welseying just tossed out soft balls for him to dance around.

    When asked how the response from the fraternity community has been he starts talking about meeting Alpha Delt Alums, really Roth? It’s not a frat first off, he’s always been partial to them and given them special privileges and he never actually addresses the question. Can Roth stop pretending that he didn’t end all fraternities. A fraternity is a male
    organization which he clearly banned. Psi u is shut down and beta and dke charters don’t allow for women members so which of them are going to survive exactly? And no alpha delt does not count as it has no national organization.

    Also it’s nice that he adds that the accused is usually male as if we didn’t already know that but then tries to act like he gives a shit about the rights of the accused. Recent lawsuits demonstrate otherwise.

  • Concerned

    Interesting how one-sided Wesleying has become recently.

    “Ask[ing] all the questions about Wesleyan University that we have wanted.” Really? Why is there a question favoring the quite questionable Wespeaks articles yet not a single question regarding the Title IX lawsuit against the university? Or at the very least a question regarding victims of false accusations (which one of the Wespeaks issues turned out to be).

    Seems like Wesleying has chosen a clear side in these arguments and are doing everything they can to promote this side with biased interviews and articles.

    • Gabe

      We actually drafted a long list of questions we wanted to ask, and many we simply did not get around to asking because of our half-hour time constraint—divestment, PSafe and Middletown relations, employee firings, etc. We’ll be asking them in subsequent interviews, to be sure.

      As for the Title IX lawsuit, the answer is simple: The news came out a few days after we had our in-person interview. Had it come out before November 20, absolutely we would have asked about it. (If you read his answer, it does touch upon both the accuser and accused sides of the judicial process, although not particularly in-depth and not really providing anything new.)

      • Still…

        Your rationale for this particular interview makes sense, but that doesn’t change the simple fact that Wesleying’s coverage of the recent Title IX lawsuit was absolutely horrendous.

        • Gabe

          What about the coverage was “absolutely horrendous”? Actual question, would like to know if there are specifics beyond a general accusation of “bias.”

          • An Actual Answer

            For starters, it was just brought to my attention that people associated with Wesleying repeatedly tweeted at the reporter of the Buzzfeed article in a disparaging manner while suggesting that the adjudication system worked and was just, and let’s be real. Pre-determined conclusions by non-participants because of ideological allegiances doesn’t exactly give off “objective” vibes, does it?

            In regards to the actual Wesleying coverage, I’ve never seen Wesleying so reserved or brief in its analysis. You didn’t really provide a summary of the complaint like you have for others. You did provide a link so someone could theoretically read that really long document.

            But to answer your question regarding are there specifics beyond a general accusation of “bias”… you literally copied and pasted a small non-detailed section of the actual lawsuit, with little to no coverage on the many specifics that were alleged against the university as to why the individual is suing. Then you prohibited comments, which some have inferred as an attempt to minimize the amount of views it would receive, while granting the “I am Melanie” response comments, which might confuse a reader into thinking the lawsuit is exclusively about whether reporting the drunk aggressive text messages were wrong as opposed to whether the University adhered to its own stated policies and procedures concerning accusations of sexual misconduct, whether the university complied with Title IX, whether an impartial and sufficient investigation was conducted, and whether it treated the plaintiff with standards of justice and fairness related to what is described in vivid detail as inadequate investigations and hearings concerning allegations of non-consensual kissing reported 4 years later, and 2 years later, by the individuals former friends, who allegedly provided inaccurate information to the university that the plantiff allegedly was not permitted to dispute. There’s also no mention of the disclosure of the plantiffs confidential judicial record, which led to him being fired from a job.

            Its pretty embarrassing that my response to your “actual question” provides more analysis on the federal lawsuit against Wesleyan than the initial Wesleying post considering that I only read until page 4 of the actual lawsuit.

            And then of course are the concerns about political censorship in the comments section.

            So you guys either just did a crappy job because of the delicate nature of the subject and your rightful attempt to protect the privacy of the participants involved (although you could have still shed light on at least SOME of what are very detailed allegations against the UNIVERSITY) …or alternatively you are “biased,” like those who tweeted at the Buzzfeed reporter so disparagingly, and Wesleying has no desire to facilitate any dialogue about whether the current adjudication process is unjust from the perspective of the accused.

            If the system is broken for both the accused and the accuser, and Wesleying want to improve the system so that it is just, Wesleying should really attempt to be more objective about these delicate issues

          • Guest

            “The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it.”
            -George Orwell

          • Orwell

            “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.” – George Orwell

          • Ex-Wesleying Reader

            I hope the Wesleying authors are actually reading this, as it truly echoes the way many on campus feel. My freshman year 2012) I used to read Wesleying all the time, it was great. But since then it has gone seriously downhill and has become such a platform for bias it makes me sad

          • Concerned Alum

            Not too mention the Argus. My god, when I was at Wesleyan I had a lot of friends that worked for the paper and they worked hard to produce real articles with journalistic integrity.

            Now when I look at the Argus it’s a complete embarrassment to Wesleyan. I mean that article about ending due process, wtf is going on with Wes??

          • Loyal-Wesleying Reader

            I disagree. I think Wesleying does a great job of reporting campus news. You do have to maintain a level of civility and respectfulness to get meetings with a college president. What part of working within a system do people not understand? You can’t just shout profanities and name-call somebody and expect them to sit down with you.

            Anyway, for those just tuning into this comment board, for anything related to Fraternities just expect angry frat members shouting bias. Thankfully there are only 4 more years until institutional memory makes frats just a bad memory. If it seems that the comments are overwhelmingly negative just know that they’re coming mostly from the people who will have to change their ways (aka excluding women from their societies) and that most of the student populace is indifferent or supportive of co-education. The part that most people care about is the decrease of social spaces during this transition (people are selfish, what can I say?).

            To be honest, I feel the more interesting parts of this interview have to do with us getting back on track to need-blind, and fixing our endowment. Anyway, I’ll stop procrastinating on studying now and leave this comment forum be.

          • My Fellow Feminists

            I think Wesleying does a great job of reporting campus news–but only when that news is relevant to the ideological allegiance of its members particular bias. Generally that’s a good thing. It often exposes administrative inadequacies and elements of social injustice in the Wesleyan community and beyond. It typically provides informed analysis of controversial issues relevant to our community. It inspires necessary and productive activism among our peers.

            But-and this is an important but- in the case of whether our universities sexual assault policies are adequate, Wesleying has, for whatever reason, decided to slant its analysis entirely in favor of a “survivor-centric” model. This is valuable in the sense of providing “trigger warnings” as to minimize the trauma of those who have survived such a heinous crime, and it is a crime that happens far too often at Wesleyan and beyond.

            I won’t speak to whether the recent lawsuit is justified, whether the charges in question are legitimate, or whether the University truly engaged in nefarious behavior. A federal court will determine that. And Wesleying didn’t need to take a definitive position. However, the very semantics and tone of the questions posed to Roth on the judicial process regarding sexual assault, and the absence of sophisticated analysis on what is a remarkably fascinating lawsuit and Buzzfeed article speaks volumes to Wesleying’s apparent bias and allegiance. It is a bias that suggests that the only voice in the discussion of improving a broken system is the voice of survivors. It is a bias that presumes that all survivors accounts are entirely truthful and that all accused are likely guilty. It is a bias that erases the possibility of a false report, silences even the remote possibility of a different type of miscarriage of justice, and it is a bias that inhibits a necessary dialogue on how to improve a broken system that currently hurts everyone.

            It is for this reason that I agree that Wesleying is doing the Wesleyan community a great disservice by providing an unscrutinized platform for what has recently been characterized as “the soapbox preaching witch-hunt agenda” of radical sexual assault activists who have “manipulated data,” “disseminated misinformation,” and seem more interested in revenge against alleged perpetrators than “restorative justice” or pragmatically promoting a culture of “affirmative consent.”

            I am happy that Wesleying asked about Need-Blind, I’m pleased that the loan-floor for financial aid applicants is now $60,000 and I’m fascinated by the Posse program and that Wesleying is trying to do a service for this community. But I also think its time that my fellow feminists and Wesleying recognize that a fair system for both sides in matters of campus sexual assault is a feminist concern worth fighting for.

          • Thank You, I Agree

            This is awesome.

      • Wes alum

        How about you cut his answers down some. He’s talking in circles anyways, politely end his response and move on. This is assuming you have an interest in actually asking him difficult questions. Roth has also been known to get angry/storm out or cancel interviews and conversations that he disagrees with, but don’t let that scare you, he is ultimately a huge coward.

        • Anon15

          Roth is a good politician, merely a puppet of the people who are really in change, one of them is John Meertz!

    • hrrrrm

      Sorry, just confused – what do you mean one of the Wespeaks turned out to be false?

    • Anon

      Neither of the Wespeaks were false accusations. The perpetrator of the “Is This Why” article is a serial offender and has displayed a number of violent tendencies and frequently makes mysoginistic comments. He also happens to be a donor kid who is family friends with the administrators. He did it though.

  • Alum ’14

    So, let me get this straight: Roth claims that men choosing to live with other men is akin to racial segregation (“There were other people who say, “It’s freedom of association. I think guys should be able to live with guys. And women should be able to live with women.” And there are people, like me, who think, well, you wouldn’t say that if you were talking about race. “)

    …yet Wesleyan offers single-sex housing options in residential halls. From the University’s own Office of Residential Life website (http://www.wesleyan.edu/reslife/housing/residence/nicolson.htm): “Upperclass students can apply to live in Japanese Hall, Film Hall, French Hall, and Single Sex floors during housing selection. First year students can participate in Residential College and Single Sex Floors.” Yet Roth, grasping at straws in a pitiful attempt to logically defend his ban on fraternities, claims, “Our housing program, we’re not going to have exclusion a priori on the basis of gender.”’

    …Huh?

    Let’s put aside, for the moment, the absurd, false and quite frankly, offensive, analogy between men opting to live with other men rather than with women (*gasp!*) and racial segregation, and just take a moment to gawk at Roth’s hypocrisy: Wesleyan already lets students exclude members of the opposite sex from their living quarters — for all four years!

    Now, back to the analogy of racial and sex-based discrimination: I’ve personally heard Roth make this analogy three separate times in conversations with students & alumni on both sides of the issue. Comparing single-sex social groups that choose to live together to the historical discrimination against blacks and Jews ignores the fact that there are very real biological differences between the sexes that, for better or for worse, fundamentally shape much of human social interactions. The bigots of yore discriminated against blacks and Jews because they were convinced that there *are* biological differences between various races and religions (there aren’t). It is intellectually dishonest to use such a metaphor, and as an academic Roth should be ashamed of himself for using such lousy logic. I hope that everyone else who reads this interview — or who has heard Roth pontificate on the issue over the past year — can see past his strawman.

    Furthermore, this notion that social self-segregation based on sex (or gender) is akin to racism begs the question: what is the University going to do about those awful, discriminatory a capella groups? Or our intolerant, and prejudiced field hockey team?! Seriously — if Roth’s concern is that students cannot decide to have “exclusion a priori on the basis of gender” in their social lives, then how is he going to address the issue of single-sex sports teams or clubs?

    • Orwell

      You raise some great points. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. Unfortunately,Wesleyan has clearly decided to abandon it’s longstanding commitment to boldness, rigor, and practical idealism. Instead Wesleyan is now committed to reactionary boastfulness, intellectual dishonesty, and a form of illiberal paternalism that declares itself the rightful orthodoxy. This orthodoxy consists of a body of ideas purportedly consistent with efforts to support survivors, punish assailants and change Wesleyan’s culture so as to eliminate elements that lead to sexual assault. But it has become an orthodoxy of which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question, and Big Brother Roth does not want you to engage in critical thinking.

      Rejecting the shallow self-righteousness of the left-wing intelligentsia does not need to amount to a full-scale dismissal of rape culture as mass hysteria like George Will. There is a real problem. But real problems warrant genuine solutions–not a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia.

    • GNM

      Fraternities aren’t “men choosing to live with other men”. Fraternities specifically exclude women from membership. Fraternities also control important semi-autonomous social spaces, distinguishing them from a capella groups,sports teams, single-gender halls. This change ensures that these social spaces aren’t controlled solely by men.

      Your racism analogy is nonsense. People have attempted to justify their racism using biology, but there are plenty of racists who knew/know nothing about biology. Their views or no less toxic. Do you need to know about biology to not be racist? Are you implying that sexism is justifiable because of biological differences? (That don’t exist by the way, but that’s another discussion).

      Anyways, there’s no need to discuss biology.Organizations that control important social spaces on campus shouldn’t be able to systematically exclude anyone from membership, especially people from an historically oppressed group.

      • Concerned Alum

        Good points; however, you’re missing one key point. Those organizations own that space, not the University. So the University loses any access to these spaces if they shut down. The only true way to achieve gender equity is to have spaces that women control and own. That proposal has been made to Roth on numerous occasions by Rho Ep and has been summarily rejected by Roth. He isn’t interested in gender equity. He’s interested in full control and social engineering.