Author Archives: Wesleying

Don’t you Wish They Did this Every Weekend?

So yesterday, Wesleyan had a Staff and Faculty appreciation picnic in the CFA courtyard. There were llamas and ponies and watermelon and unlimited amounts of ice cream and cookies and brownies and strawberries and moon bounces and….
Also there was this? What is this? It seriously just looked like a giant inflatable vagina. But on the other side it’s a clown’s face. You’re supposedly entering into his “ear.” Yeah ok. It’s a vagina.

How to Avoid Summer Inanity: Part I

Summer was never a particularly fun time for me. Part of being a poor wretch of a kid meant I’ve gotten the chance to work a variety of menial summer jobs pretty much every summer since…forever. From dishwasher to soda jerk to waitress to camp counselor to horribly oppressed intern in the sweltering oblivion we call a capital, you name it, I’ve probably done it and got paid minimum wage or less to do it. In fact, with the notable and wonderful exception of that summer right before college when I came down with acute appendicitis, I think I’ve pretty always had a pretty crappy summer job. (In all honesty and without exaggeration, I look back on The Summer of Unlimited Netflix Rentals and Limited Torso Movement as the best summer of my life.)

But despite it all, I’ve always tried to come away from my summers having learned new, possibly valuable but surely unmarketable life skills. Like how to tell where someone is from by whether they call those chocolate things on ice cream cones jimmies or sprinkles (they’re jimmies). Or how to stop the bleeding when a 10-year-old slices halfway into his thumb with a glass cutter.

Anyway, since this is probably the first summer since TSUNRLTM I’m actually not working a menial crap job, I’m going to dedicate part of my summer to learning really ridiculous skills.

Thus, Avoiding Summer Inanity: Part I*

Divestiture Debate Makes Headlines

Daniela Altimari of The Hartford Courant reports on the divestiture debate:

Late last month, after a lengthy and impassioned debate, the Wesleyan Student Assembly approved a resolution denouncing such investments. Wesleyan’s portfolio includes holdings in Raytheon and General Dynamics.

To junior Erik Rosenberg, a member of Students For Ending the War in Iraq, it boils down to one question: “Can we really be comfortable with educating ourselves with money that was made through violence?”

But other students expressed concern about the financial ramifications of divestiture, a concern Rosenberg dismissed.

Others say the war is a complicated issue and divestment would be a symbolic move, at best. “Divestment is such a blunt tool,” said Jon Golden, a junior and student assembly representative from suburban Philadelphia.

Golden says he doesn’t support the war and didn’t vote for President Bush. “I think the war has been a foreign policy debacle,” he said. “But some people think if you oppose the war, if you oppose the Bush administration, then divestment is the answer. I think there is a more nuanced argument to be made.”

College activists have used divestment in the past as a mechanism to force social change. The most notable example is the anti-apartheid movement that began in the late 1970s. Hundreds of colleges and universities, including Wesleyan, unloaded stock in companies that did business with the apartheid government in South Africa.

Since then, Wesleyan has instituted a number of changes to hold corporations accountable and make sure the university’s voice is heard, said Justin Harmon, vice president for public affairs.

“Our approach has been to try and engage companies if there are issues in terms of their corporate behavior … that are of concern to the campus community,” Harmon said. “There is a sense that engagement and dialogue could be a constructive mechanism and potentially more powerful than the symbolic act of divestiture.”

Administrators say they are unsure of how many students back divestiture. A rally last week drew about 30 supporters, though Rosenberg said more than 600 signed a petition supporting the idea.

“Next year, we’re going to try to get the larger Wesleyan community involved,” he said. “We definitely have a long way to go.”

Rosenberg said he has yet to broach the issue with incoming President Michael Roth, but he believes Roth will be supportive. “I think he really does see students as agents of change, not just in our own community but in the national community and international community,” he said.

After all, Roth is no stranger to such activism: In 1977, as a student at Wesleyan, he slept in the president’s office, according to an article by Lindsay Ceballos in the May 7 edition of the Wesleyan Argus. He was protesting the university’s investment in companies that did business with South Africa.

Yay Team!

All-around super dude Sam Grover ’08 won the New England Division III championship yesterday in the triple jump, besting his team record by almost a foot with a jump of 48’4″. Right now he is ranked second in the country in Division III. Yay Sam!

And Marcia Whitehead ’08 did in fact beat that all-time hits record previously held by Debra-Ellen Glickstein ’01 with 122 hits. But as a junior, she’s got another season to add to the record! Go Marcia!

The Film Mafia

The Hartford Courant’s Susan Dunne reports on Wesleyan’s film mafia at this years Tribeca Film Festival in New York:

“Judging from the lineup at the Tribeca Film Festival this year, it seems there might be one foolproof method not only to get a foot in the door in Hollywood, but also to become well-established, steadily working and well-respected:

Get a degree from Wesleyan University.

This year, seven Wesleyan graduates have films at the festival, which finishes up today in lower Manhattan.

Jeanine Basinger, head of the film studies department at the Middletown campus, says it isn’t just the quality of the film school, but Wesleyan’s emphasis on well-rounded liberal arts education that makes its graduates sought out in Hollywood. She also credits a time-tested network of graduates all ready to help each other.

In a business where “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know” is a rule, this is invaluable.

“We are one of the only schools I know of that gives exit interviews with job references,” Basinger says. “When they go out there, they have people to call, and I have never known any of our graduates to refuse to help a fellow Wesleyan graduate.

“We have about 400 people now working out there,” Basinger says. “They call them the `Wesleyan mafia.’ And I’m the godmother.”

Read more about our alums Dan Edelman ’78, Paul Schiff ’81, Jieho Lee ’95, Zak Penn ’90, Andrew Berends ’94, Jim Cohen ’84, and Jessica Sanders ’99.

Fun Facts by Wesleying

  • Number of students eligible to vote for WSA President: 2,700
  • Number of students eligible to run for WSA President: 2,700
  • Number of people who ran for WSA President: 1
  • Number of votes received by the only person running for president: 386
  • Percentage of school who voted for candidate: 14%
  • Percentage of school who did not vote for candidate: 86%

Heckuva mandate.

Advice for the Incoming President

Professor Claire Potter offers up some great advice for incoming President Michael Roth:

1. Be a walk around manager. Sure, being a President is time consuming. But schedule free time in your week that will allow you to drop in on people, take a stroll around the campus, and go have coffee in the new campus center. Show up where and when you are least expected. Go to talks. Come to the History Department Tea, and Pie Day at American Studies. Go over to Interlibrary Loan and order your own books so that you can say hello to hard-working people who will never be asked to meet you in a more private way. Presidents need a sense of who their constituents are before they come asking for something, or protesting something, or are Tangled Up In (some kind of) Blue.

2. Don’t inject the word “excellence” into everything you say and expect that we know what you are talking about, or that it answers any question about a course of action to be taken. What excellence actually represents is – well, nothing. It’s a buzzword, the verbal equivalent of a Rorschach test. And some of the great disagreements in education and scholarly life today have to do with prioritizing some kinds of knowledge over others and calling it “excellence.” Us queer and colored folk, for example, are exhausted by the continual requirement that we exhibit excellence that conventional people can translate into their own, conventional, world view. Look at our diversity as an intellectual institution, figure out where the energy is, and jump on the bandwagon. Find out what Zenith [Wesleyan] does best and do what you can to cultivate what you find. Find out what we don’t do and how it would enhance our life as a thinking community to start doing it.

3. Take a serious look at how large our administration has grown over the last decade, who pays for it, and what justifies it. It is very hard for faculty to understand why we spend every April hiring contingent faculty (fifty or sixty of them across the university) when we seem to add numbers-crunchers, Vice Presidents of This-and-That, and student services workers one after another. If we need all these people, and we don’t need teachers at a university, fine. But someone needs to tell us why. And exactly what our mission is as a liberal arts college if it isn’t having enough faculty to have the time and energy to pay attention to students as individuals.

4. Do what you can to stop the griping about Division III athletics and move on to things that really matter. This is not, whatever William Bowen says, a major problem that the liberal arts college must face. Sports are fun, and exercise is good for young adults. Over fifty-percent of the Zenith student body is involved in varsity athletics of some kind, and most of these kids are actually not recruits. For those that are, athletics is actually one of the few ways that working-class kids can still get into Zenith when they didn’t go to such a great public high school (which is, frankly, most public high schools), and in my experience these kids are just as academically capable as the children of celebrities and the wealthy alumni/ae legacies.

5. Start a campus-wide conversation about how much stress and anxiety students cope with, what we are doing as an institution that enhances that stress, and why, as a community, we talk about it as if it has nothing to do with discourses of “excellence” and our pedagogical practices. We wouldn’t need so many elaborate “student services” if students weren’t made so desperate during the college admissions process, and subsequently more desperate as they claw their way through college.

6. Here’s a good place to start addressing faculty stress: the tenure and promotion process at Zenith is a mess and it is taking far too much of our time for no good purpose. When you get to know us better, put together a committee of people *not* drawn from the people who have served on the T & P committee. This committee should hold public hearings, invite people from other universities and the AAUP to consult, and then put together a set of recommendations for university-wide reform of the personnel process. And while you are at it – reform the T & P committee. Many of them are (to be frank once more) zombies. And if they aren’t zombies before they are elected, they often become zombies as a result of their service. This doesn’t seem like a good outcome, and it means many of us who would actually be thoughtful about tenure and promotion would rather eat glass than serve on that committee.

7. Encourage the faculty to form an AAUP chapter. Give one or two members of the faculty a course relief to get it done. An organized faculty is a faculty that knows how to negotiate, cooperate, and adjudicate. And while you are at it — ask faculty why they don’t go to meetings. Figure out how to change that, and what kind of meeting the faculty would agree to go to. It’s demoralizing that we don’t, and because no one goes, it’s as demoralizing to go to faculty meetings as it is to stay home. Kind of like eating in an empty restaurant (which you look too cool to do.)

8. Let the students chalk on the sidewalk. It just really isn’t that important. And the students whose chalkings were originally banned have graduated anyway. I don’t think the students we have now even know how to chalk.

9. Make retirement a realistic possibility for faculty who are in their sixties and seventies. Provide incentives that signify how much you value past service and that simplify the lives of senior faculty in ways that enhance their last decade of service and enhance the quality of our community. Get faculty over the age of 67 out of the personnel process and out of governance (except in cases of extraordinary administrative competence), and provide resources for cultivating their teaching and scholarly lives. Very senior members of the faculty who are more concerned about who the next hire is going to be than how they are going to get their last book or two done before they die are not the people you want messing in decisions that affect what Zenith will be twenty years from now. These decisions belong to the younger generations who will live with them and have their careers shaped by them.

10. Zenith has lost much of its uniqueness in its quest for “excellence:” for those of us who have been here a while, sometimes you feel like you could wake up and be anywhere (except Williams. Never Williams.) Remember why you loved it here in the 1970’s, and see if you can’t bring some of that back. A good start would be to withdraw from the U.S. News and World Report College Rankings system.

Update on Tonight’s WESU Show

Jeffrey Wong ’08 tells us that Grizzley Bear did have to cancel due to a death in the family but we have replaced them with Japanther.

The show will still be going on at Eclectic from 7pm to Midnight, but will now be FREEEEEE. If you bought a ticket already, however, you can get a refund at Eclectic. WESU members will be at the door to sell T-shirts and such, so just give them your ticket and they’ll refund your money.

WSA Tidings

1. The WSA is conducting a poll on student opinion about chalking.

2. Estrella Lopez ’07 tells me:

Hey all, its election season, and this year we’re having 2 consecutive rounds of elections. Right now you can go to the voting website and vote in 2 elections, one is a poll on chalking and the other is to approve the new student body constitution. This round of elections will end at noon on April 22nd at which point the WSA elections for President, Vice President and class representatives will take place as well as the Senior Class Officer Elections.

Any potential candidates who have not yet filled out a petition to be a candidate in next week’s elections should contact the WSA Coordinator elopez@wes for WSA elections and Arijit Sen asen@wes for Senior Class Officer elections. The deadline to get your petition in is tomorrow, so move quickly!

Open Mike at Alpha Delt

Becca Martin ’10 writes:

Open Mike! Friday! Yes, it’s 4/20. But hey, poetry can be more profound when you’re in…an altered state of mind. And there will be food. You know you’ll want food. So, you should come.

There will be poetry, music, food and goodness. If you’re interested in performing, email me at Rmartin@wes.Or just show up, we’re trying to fit as many people as possible. (Also, if you’re going to read something, you should bring a copy to submit to ADLit).

Date: Friday, April 20
Place: Alpha Delt Living Room
Time: 7-8ish