2016: A Very Wesleying Year in Review

“Like, I feel like every year has a new energy, and I feel like this year is really about, like, the year of just realizing stuff. And everyone around me, we’re all just, like, realizing things.” – Kylie Jenner, 1/1/16

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This article was a collaboration with claire.

The talk among popular circles on the Internet is that 2016 was the year of endless fuckery. Certainly, there is much to be alarmed about: Brexit, having a reality TV star command a nuclear arsenal, the bizarre state of affairs in South Korea, the ongoing horrors in Syria, etc. Our commitment to decontextualizing and compiling suffering in order to demonize an arbitrary unit of time is alarming in and of itself.

A lot of shit went down at Wesleyan this year, too, and we don’t want to fall into the same trap of decontexualizing. Still, we want to revisit some of the happenings in the Wesleyan (and Wesleying) world in the past year. As I said last year, we do this list each year for three reasons: (1) institutional memory is shit at colleges, (2) synergy, and (3) lists are cool.

You can read past Year in Reviews here: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015.

Now a disclaimer: These issues are not ranked with any criteria in mind, they are simply numbered for the sake of numbering. Also, there are lots of things that happen on this campus that we don’t manage to write about. As this is a review of our coverage, there will necessarily be things missing, and many of the happenings/issues included here are still developing and are certainly not over. So, if you think we missed something important, or hear of any recent developments in what we did include, leave a comment or email us at staff[at]wesleying[dot]org.

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1. Scott Backer Fired from Wesleyan for History of Sexual Misconduct

On the night of Saturday, October 1st, the Spotlight team of investigative reporters at the Boston Globe published an article entitled “Educators accused of sexual misconduct often find new posts.” This article was the first public acknowledgement that Wesleyan’s former Associate Dean of Students, Scott Backer, was fired over the summer due to his history of sexual misconduct at Vermont Academy. Wesleying published a 4,000 word piece placing the Globe piece and Backer’s role in the sexual assault judicial process at Wesleyan in more context.

There was (and still is) untold frustration, pain, and anger in the wake of this news. It resulted in 200 students demanding the removal of President Roth and VP for Equity and Inclusion and Chief Title IX Officer Antonio Farias from their roles at the University. It also led to the creation of the Wesleyan Student Union, tour interruptions during October Open House, and a general shattering of trust in the administration.

For further reading:

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2. Donald Fucking Trump is Elected President of the United States

We laid low on the pre-election coverage (one S0BER, DRUNK, H1GH liveblog), and as you can probably guess from that, we were not seriously prepared for Donald Trump being elected President of the United States. On November 9th, it seemed as though the entire campus was in a state of mourning.

After the election, there were many students on campus organizing phone-a-thons, petitions to make Wesleyan better cater to the needs of undocumented students (see “Sanctuary Campus” below), and other actions. In a post-election protest, where several hundred demonstrators marched to Main Street, two students spray-painted “Amerikkka” on an upside-down U.S. flag. The video of the spray-painting received over 20,000 views and drew death threats and other threats of violence from local Trump supporters. More troubling still were the repeated instances of targeted hate speech that multiple students were subjected to in the days following the election; most notably, the AASC responded to an incident where a student received written threats that included racial slurs.

This election was, and still is, terrifying for people at Wesleyan and across the country.

For further reading:

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c/o Chloe Gerena, Argus

3. Wesleyan Declares Itself a Sanctuary Campus for Undocumented Students

One of the most influential actions in the wake of the 2016 Presidential Election was the push for Wesleyan to become a sanctuary campus for undocumented students. Several students drafted and circulated a petition that called for Wesleyan to make a public declaration of its commitment to supporting undocumented students. It also called for the provision of legal resources; a commitment to non-cooperation with federal immigration authorities in the event of mass deportations; the provision of more psychological support resources for students on campus; and more. The petition received over 1300 signatures in just a few days’ time.

The writers of the petition also organized a walkout in concert with the National Day of Action declared by Movimiento Cosecha, which saw similar walkouts at universities across the country. At Wesleyan, over 100 students walked out of class and gathered in Usdan for a reading of the petition.

The petition was discussed with the Board of Trustees when they visited campus in November, and Wesleyan became one of the first universities in the country to declare itself a sanctuary campus. It even made the national news circuit, landing President Roth on Fox News.

For further reading:

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4. Eclectic’s Loses Residential Housing Status

In February, we broke the news that Eclectic lost their housing privileges for the 2016-2017 academic year, after years of controversy surrounding the society. Their former house at 200 High Street was handed over to Music House, who have continued to use the space for concerts and other social events.

For unknown reasons (perhaps due to changing concert policies), ResLife made the decision to replace Music House with a new program house option, Movement House, for the 2017-2018 school year. (MuHo will share 202 Washington St. with Full House.) Eclectic was denied program house status for 2017-2018 and will have to wait until Spring 2018 to apply again.

For further reading:

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5. Wesleyingiversary: We Turned 10!

Wesleying is a decade old! We talked to past writers and editors who’ve helped keep this scrappy lil blog chugging along. We also had a ridic liveblog on our birthday. Thanks Holly, ishuku, Sheek, Syed, ehc, Zach, pyrotechnics, BZOD, Samira, and hermes for catching up with us.

For further reading:

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6. The Argus & The SBC Square Off Part ?

You might be thinking, “I thought all that stuff with the Argus and funding and such was resolved in the Fall of 2015.” Well, not quite. You can take a look at 2015’s Year in Review to read about the Op Ed Heard Round the World and the subsequent Defunding Debacle.

In the Spring of 2016, questions around the Argus’s funding were heating up again. Accusations of persistent targeting of the Argus by the SBC and other members of the WSA were being leveled at the same time that rumors that the SBC had run out of money in mid-February began circulating. The Argus published an open letter, which prompted an open letter from the SBC, which prompted another open letter from the Argus.

We investigated the rumors and the accusations, and posted a lengthy explainer about the issue. This led to us being declared “Wesleyan’s least-absorbent campus publication” in the Argus’s annual April Fool’s issue. The debate more generally led to the proposal and creation of a Media Publications Fund, which allocates funds for campus publications separate from the SBC’s main budget (similar to Concert Committee’s funds).

For further reading:

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7. Concerts Become More Tightly Regulated

A few days before fall classes began, we broke the news that ResLife had updated its program house policy regarding concerts and social events. Initial sources told us that ResLife would be putting a blanket ban on all concerts in program houses, senior woodframes, and residential societies. Their reasoning was twofold: the frequency/themes of concerts/parties had strayed from certain program houses’ mission statements, and there was concern that “jumping” on newly-acquired furniture in these houses would result in property damage.

ResLife student staff asked for clarification of the policy, and after several meetings with ResLife director Fran Koerting, members of student staff drafted a letter correcting the initial news: Program houses are now only permitted one concert or social event for each mission-based program held each month. HMs must organize at least 3 mission-based programs per month anyways and, in some cases, concerts may count as programs (i.e. for Music House).

Then came another policy change in November, this time banning the use of stages in Alpha Delt, Music House, and Psi U. Additionally, ResLife announced that the dance-themed Movement House would be moving into the space now occupied by Music House for the 2017-2018 school year. These changes were met with much backlash and speculation that the university is slowly moving to ban concerts from program houses.

For further reading:

Honorable Mentions:

  1. This 12,000 word interview with Karmenife Paulino ’15, whose Reclamation photo shoot is something to never forget.
  2. Claire Randall ’12 passed, and we did our best to respond to the news.
  3. That time where everyone freaked out because Forbes ranked us #9 in the country. This was our most-viewed article of the year.
  4. Two c/o 2016ers started a pop up restaurant in their senior house and it was orgasmic.
  5. We were like, hey Wesleyan, you gonna rescind Bill Cosby’s honorary doctorate? They were like, “no.”
  6. Booger Hall, Bougie Hall, Boggart Hall, Bo-zhay Hall? 41 Wyllys got named for $20milli yo.
  7. People got real mad cause we uncovered a quote from Antonio Farias where he we was stating that low-income students were working 30+ hours a week to imitate middle and upper class lifestyles. YiKeS.
  8. A spontaneously-combusting copy of Infinite Jest did not cause a fire alarm in High Rise at 4:30 in the morning.
  9. The clown scare.
  10. A quote from grr-cya that really sums up how we all feel about 2016: “..the ambiguity of choosing how to feel in a no sense world has to be one of the hardest choices in life.”
  11. E. coli cases prompted Davison to send an email about “diarrhea (especially bloody diarrhea).”
  12. We got a sneak peak inside Skull & Serpent. They also did the mannequin challenge.
  13. BØRNS leaked the news of his Spring Fling performance on his own website. Spring Fling also got a Snapchat geofilter.
  14. We did a record number of THESISCRAZY interviews (40). Swag!
  15. We told you what your e-portfolio theme says about you.
  16. On a similar note, we made a taxonomy for the entire student body.
  17. They changed the class times, and no one knew what to do.
  18. THE NOTEBOOK 2 IS FILMING IN MIDDLET—oh wait.
  19. A super dope student-run collective arts space opened in the Hewitt basement.
  20. The bookstore is moving to Main Street!
  21. We fundraised lol.