Wes is known for its history of activism. Rage update outlines all public activism that occurred on campus in the past academic year. It seems to have become an every other year sort of thing for us with our first article in 2014, our second in 2016, and now our third in 2018. All articles are definitely worth a read and although 2017 didn’t get an article, it was certainly a year worth remembering so I’ll leave some links to further reading in the end.
Rage update wouldn’t be complete without the words of alt, the author of our first rage update:
You’ve now arrived on campus, and we hope that you find your time here enriching and transformative. In that hope, we feel that it would be ill-advised to allow you to not have at least a foundational understanding of the things that have forced us as a community into dialogue, disagreement, and action.
This is not to scare you or to give you a negative impression of the University. However, we are certain that most if not all of you were told about the “passion” that Wesleyan students have and the issues that we care about on campus are at the forefront of those passions. While there is certainly no requirement to take an activist stance on any of these issues and it is in fact easy to sink beneath the radar on these issues and all the others not covered here, we would plead with you to be engaged in the community that you are now a part of.
Read this, ask questions, and reach out to students and faculty that have been here before you. We hope that as you begin your time here, you fully invest yourself as a community member committed to making Wesleyan as good as it can be for you and for those after you. Caring about Wesleyan does not foreclose critique on Wesleyan and as you read this, and other things like it, we hope you understand that too.
I’d like to add a disclaimer that this article is non-comprehensive and only acts as a waypoint to guide you into the sea of knowledge that is Wesleyan’s activism.
Ban the Box
The “Ban the Box” movement was begun by a grassroots group of formerly incarcerated people and their families—at Wesleyan, the movement is spurred by the group Students for Ending Mass Incarceration (SEMI). The movement is one that strives to end the practice of college applicants having to disclose criminal histories. The claim made by the group and supported by Wesleyan’s anthropology department is that this question is racially discriminatory and hinders people’s basic right to education.
This year, any frosh who was at WesFest might remember the fifty-person sit-in that occurred at the admissions building. The sit-in at the admissions office began at 9 am on the 13th of April and lasted almost 3 hours. As the protest moved towards Usdan the group encountered Michael Roth and began reading to him their demands. Roth began walking away towards the Center for the Arts, but the protesters followed. After a brief back and forth between the two group, Roth agreed to meet with the SEMI within the next 10 days.
On Monday, April 23rd, Roth met with SEMI and proposed a move towards the NYU method which would still include the common app’s “box”, but also include a new statement on the university’s application stating that disclosing any criminal history wouldn’t hurt an applicants chances of being admitted, instead it served to understand whether or not a student would have any effect on campus safety. In a later e-mail correspondence, SEMI demanded that admission officers not know whether an applicant is convicted until after they are accepted.
No one side had their full demands met—now, deans of admission will not see any record or indication of criminal history until the second read-through of applications—and so this movement is still ongoing at Wes.
On February 15th, President Roth emailed an announcement that Daniel Handler ’92, also known under his pen name Lemony Snicket, would deliver the 186th Commencement Address and the Honorary Degree recipients would be Dr. Anita Hill and Joshua Boger ’73.
However, in consideration Handler’s past controversial remarks and repeated instances of racism and sexual harassment, and Anita Hill’s impetus in bolstering the ongoing #MeToo movement, students got real pissed real quick. Sarah Chen Small ’18 wrote in with a response to the commencement decisions and shortly after, posters appeared around campus calling for the removal of Handler as Commencement Speaker and calling attention to Anita Hill would be receiving an honorary degree (a lesser honor and a shorter speech) at the same event. Within a month, Roth sent out a campus-wide email update notifying campus that Handler had stepped down from delivering the
Commencement Speech for the Class of 2018 and that Anita Hill would instead be delivering the address at the event. It was amazing and reassuring to see how student activism does get shit done.
This article was written by both Fern and un meli-melo