Last night, at the town hall entitled “WhoRunsWes: An open town hall about community events,” approximately 200 students and several professors gathered in the Daniel Family Commons to discuss the recent news surrounding the firing of Scott Backer.
The event was structured as a collective discussion divided into two parts. Everyone was welcomed to share feelings of anger, frustration, and sadness in the wake of the news that Wesleyan had charged a sexual predator with reviewing cases of sexual assault for many years. Then, the discussion turned to ways of concretely responding to this news.
In the beginnings of the discussion, students, including self-identified survivors, voiced their reactions to the news that Backer had been fired for his history of sexual harassment at Vermont Academy, and the fact that this news was kept from the student body for several months.
Perspectives focused on the lack of transparency in releasing the news of Scott Backer’s history of sexual harassment, and the current emotional trauma being faced by survivors on campus. Soon, it became apparent that almost all 200 or more in attendance felt a severe lack of faith in the administration as it currently stands, and talk of an overhaul began.
In the the second portion of the town hall, several students voiced a proposition to endorse the firing of Antonio Farias from his role as Vice President for Equity and Inclusion, and the removal of Michael Roth as the President of the University.
After around 45 minutes of discussion, the 200 or more in attendance reached a consensus via a blind vote to endorse the call for removal of Roth and Farias from their posts.
Many in the room expressed thoughts that the administration routinely exploits student labor in Admissions, Equity & Inclusion, Psychological Services, Bystander Intervention Training, and more. Yet, despite recognizing this exploitation, many students in attendance do not have faith in these parts of the administration to complete their stated tasks effectively.
Participants agreed to work in smaller groups on action items moving forward.
Maybe soon, we will be asking, Who Runs Wes Next?
For further reading:
- Dean Whaley Sends All Campus Email About the Firing of Scott Backer
- Beyond Scott Backer: Accountability at Wesleyan in the Sexual Misconduct Judicial Process
- President Roth Emails an Empty Apology to Wesleyan Community for Hiring Scott Backer, Misses the Point
- Fisk Posters Call Out Administration
- From the Argus: Two Hundred Students Call for Removal of Roth, Farias in Open Town Hall Meeting
- From the Argus: University Reels from Scott Backer Firing Over Sexual Misconduct