Author Archives: sdz

About sdz

super happy to be here

How ya doin?

a brief check in + WSA FAQ!

Hey fam,

As we come to the end of our first week of #distance #learning post spring break, I wanted to check in. How are you? How’s your love life? How’re your friends? Classes? Parties? Anything exciting going on? No? Ok that’s fine, I’m mostly just making sure your life is as boring as mine is right now.

There were a couple things I wanted to fill you in on. First, if you’ve turned your keys in, you should be automatically getting your RCF refund anytime now. But, if you want to transfer it to your checking account, here’s the form for the transfer. I’m sure you have lots and lots of other questions, which can be answered in this amazing, comprehensive FAQ made by the wonderful members of the WSA. Literally everything you could possibly be wondering can be found here.

If you have not yet donated to the FGLI GoFundMe, that can be found here. They’re past $200K now, but every dollar counts. Most importantly, the money from the GoFundMe will not be means tested when distributed. For more information, please check out the updates on the page. Jessi Russell ’20 and Mya Valentin ’19 have been incredibly transparent about where the money is going and how distribution will work, with a timeline and everything.

If you’re looking for a way to get shit off your mind, submit to our series on relationships in the time of corona! This has been a wild time, and whether you were in a romantic/platonic/life changing/very casual relationship or you wanna talk about your friends. Almost every relationship in our lives has been affected by corona, and we want to hear about it. Also don’t even TRY to tell us you’re not all over wescam, we know you are. You can submit through the form, or you can email us a voice memo! We’ll take whatever form you give us :) (staff@wesleying.org).

Wherever you are, I hope you’re with people you love and I hope you’re not letting corona bring you down. We don’t know how long this will last, and it’s painful to wonder when you’ll next see your friends [and friends+ ;) ] again, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. The best thing to do is to take this day by day and to reach out to those around you. Don’t isolate yourself. Facetime your friends, go for a walk, or do both at the same time. Rely on others, let others rely on you. I don’t know a single person that doesn’t want to be randomly texted by someone they talk to every day or someone they haven’t spoken to in a year. Zoom happy hour with your friends, and reach out to that senior you hooked up with once freshman year. I know life feels stagnant, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it interesting. Fuck shit up and keep moving forward. It’s the only way.

With love and care and affection,

Saadia

COVID-19: Resources for Students (Updates to come)

On Wednesday afternoon, the University sent out an all-campus email declaring that students would be required to leave campus by March 23rd, and that all classes would be shifted to a remote learning model. This decision was made with little student and faculty input despite a strong student response that simply asked the Administration to be more cognizant of the needs of its most vulnerable populations before making such a life-changing decision for so many. As expected, the decision induced great panic and uncertainty amongst the student population.

While the immediate aftermath of the University’s decision was just sheer panic, students have done an incredible job of advocating for each other. The WSA went off and has been negotiating with the University on everything from our room and board refunds to storage space to the mandate that students come back to campus. Their hard work is seeing immediate returns, and many of the things they’ve accomplished are having an immediate impact on students’ lives.

This post is just to somewhat consolidate updates from the WSA about what resources are available to students and any other updates on the current situation.

In Response to Potential University Shutdown over COVID-19

Update from the Editor 3/11/20, 15:54 EST: The Administration has decided to suspend the spring semester indefinitely, and move all classes to remote learning. Students can petition for an extension or to remain on campus. The all campus email can be read here, and some more info can be found here.

Update from the Editor 3/11/20, 14:32 EST: To clarify, while we did link the Change.org petition in this post, we are not in this article arguing that the University remain open and that business carry on as usual. As many have stated on twitter here and here, there are obvious risks to having the campus remain entirely open, including, but not limited to, concerns for those who are immunocompromised. We did not make the Change.org petition or have a say in how it was titled. As we have mentioned below, our intention here was to (1) raise concerns that we have, and (2) start a conversation that the administration would have to hear. We are aware that this is an incomplete list of concerns.

Update from the Editor 3/10/20, 19:58 EST: Sign the petition here! Credit goes to Martha Wedner ’22 for making it.

Update from the Editor 3/10/20, 18:12 EST: We have gotten many positive responses to this petition, and are glad that it is starting a conversation. We recognize that we are only four voices that have spoken thus far, and that in our haste to put this out there, there are certain points that we missed. Our main goal was to open a space for testimony and to encourage conversation, as we were concerned was that the University might make this decision without any student input.

In that vein,  Huzaifa Khan ’22 has reached out to us to let us know that students with concern or testimony  should email him at  hkhan[at]wesleyan[dot]edu. The WSA has a coronavirus task force that is working with the University, which means that at least some students are involved in the process. You too can be involved simply by emailing your concerns to Huzaifa, and he will do his best to voice as many concerns as possible at the meeting. Apparently, the decision is  likely to be made tomorrow (3/11/20), so voicing your opinion asap is critical.

Just now, the State of Connecticut announced a state of emergency over coronavirus. This morning, Amherst College, a fellow NESCAC, temporarily suspended classes and asked students to move out by the end of their spring break. This afternoon, Middlebury College and Harvard University followed suit. We’re now hearing (through word of mouth) that there is discussion to announce a suspension at Yale later today, Trinity will potentially declare tomorrow, and University of Connecticut is convening discussions as we write this. Notably, none of these schools have any confirmed cases of the coronavirus on their campuses, amongst students or otherwise.

As we see each school escalating the degree to which they are responding to the outbreak and limiting normal functioning at their respective institutions, we cannot help but wonder exactly how this will work, and what the real effect on students will be. Thus far, we have not heard that students are being consulted on how to address COVID-19. While Wesleyan has placed recommended travel restrictions on students and faculty, among other preventative measures, there has been no concrete information from the school except for what we are hearing from friends of friends and over text regarding the potential suspension.

We do not deny that the coronavirus outbreak is a serious public health issue, and we hope that all of those who are affected are receiving proper treatment and care. However, we cannot allow the University to make such a serious decision as suspending classes for the semester without student consultation and without our concerns taken into account. Below, we have listed a series of concerns that we have, and ask that they be addressed as we move forward.

Student concerns regarding a potential shut down:

Women’s Cross Country Alumnae Speak Out on Culture of Disordered Eating, Injuries

This series was produced by sdz with the help of  fern,  melimaury,  gabs,  and  hen.
The 25 testimonials can be read here. The timeline of contact between the team and the Athletic Department can be found here.

 

The following is an open letter from Yuki Christina Hebner ‘17 to the Wesleyan community that speaks to a culture of body shaming, disordered eating, and high attrition rates on the Wesleyan women’s cross country team. Yuki tells her own story and introduces the stories of 25 other women’s cross country alumnae.

In the testimonials, Head Coach John Crooke is alleged to have pressured runners to lose significant amounts of weight with little guidance and no nutritional training, leading to multiple cases of disordered eating and injury. The effects of Coach Crooke’s directives, delivered in meetings which the team colloquially called “fat talks”, have been long-lasting; some of these alumnae are almost 7 years out of college and yet still struggle with disordered eating and injuries from their time on the team.

Yuki’s letter is followed by a petition, signed by 36 alumni. Notably, the petition is not asking for the removal of Coach Crooke, but rather for the Department to advocate for its racing athletes by better understanding the risk factors associated with endurance sports and holding coaches to a higher standard of accountability, among other demands.

The issues presented in this series are two-fold. On one hand, it was Coach Crooke’s actions that so adversely affected each of these alumni. He forced runners to lose weight, played favorites, and fostered a dangerous culture of body shaming and disordered eating. But, Coaches come and go. The issues presented here will not be resolved simply by removing Coach Crooke, or by adding a few more assistant coaches. The systemic issues of body shaming and lack of accountability of coaches that face distance runners simply will not change from the efforts of one person, or scapegoating one person to protect an inadequate system. It will take a cocktail of reforms, as laid out in the petition below, to bring about any sort of meaningful change.

This is not the first time that these athletes have tried to voice their stories. They wrote about their experiences in coaching evaluations, spoke about them in meetings with their coaches, and even brought them to the attention of the athletic directors. And yet, their concerns were never taken seriously. The timeline indicates clearly that the Department had been made aware of the cross country team’s concerns since at least 2013, and yet there is reason to suspect that things have not yet changed as much as they should have. If this were not true, these alumnae would not be speaking up today. (A statement from the Athletic Department follows the petition.)

It took a great deal of courage for each of the alumnae to speak out about her experience on the team. As a community, it is our responsibility to listen now, because it doesn’t seem like anyone was listening then.

Read Yuki’s letter after the jump, and then be sure to read the testimonials. The story is incomplete without them.

Part 2: 24 Testimonials from Women’s Cross Country Alumnae

Yuki’s letter and the petition can be read here. The timeline of contact between the team and the Athletic Department can be found here.

 

In Part 2 of this series, we are presenting 25 testimonials from 25 women who participated on the women’s cross country and track and field teams during their time at Wesleyan. Each story was written and prepared by each alumna herself, and reveals a pattern of mistreatment that led to a cycle of disordered eating, malnutrition, fatigue, and injuries as a result.

While many of the alumnae touch on their personal experiences with Coach Crooke, his actions are only part of the focus here. The first goal of these testimonials is to shed light on the specific actions of Coach Crooke and the devastating effect that they had on the team culture. The second is to call upon the Athletic Department as an institution to step up and protect its athletes, the very people on whose efforts the Department thrives. The testimonials and timeline beg the following questions: Where was the Athletic Department each time a runner spoke up about the conditions of the team? How could runners expect the Athletic Department to act when it did not even really listen in the first place?

A few have asked to keep their name and/or class year anonymous, but that does not lessen the degree of legitimacy of their stories. There are many reasons why they may have chosen to remain anonymous, including, but not limited to, concerns about how the Department or Coach will respond to these stories coming to light. If anything, their decision not to identify themselves speaks even further to a culture of fear and intimidation within the team.

Read the testimonials after the jump:

Part 3: What the Athletic Department Knew and When

This is part 3 of our series on the women’s cross country team. Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here.

Alongside the alumnae testimonials, we also wanted to provide a timeline that maps out the history of contact between the runners on the cross country team and the Athletic Department. A central theme of this series is to show that the Athletic Department was made aware of the issues of disordered eating and injuries that were perpetuated by Coach Crooke, and yet no changes were made to address the problems. This timeline, which was prepared by Rachel Unger ’15, is intended to shed some light on what exactly the Athletic Department knew and when. The timeline also speaks to the repeated efforts that were made by runners to push for change within the existing system as it stands.

Daniel Jewell-Tyrcha ’22 Passes Away

It is with a heavy hearts that we share this email from President Michael Roth. On Sunday, January 26th, 2020, at approximately 8:20 pm EST, President Roth informed the Wesleyan community of the passing of Daniel Jewell-Tyrcha ’22. According to news reports, Dani was involved in a motor vehicle accident on Maromas Road in Middletown late on Saturday evening, and passed away earlier today at Hartford Hospital. The accident is still being investigated by authorities.

Dani was a sophomore double majoring in American Studies and African American Studies. Most recently, they were working as a production assistant on a film co-written and directed by Candace April Cirilo ’22. They were also involved in the theater community on campus, which included working as a costume designer on the fall 2018 Second Stage production of Straight.

The full text of the email is after the jump:

Tip Box 12/4: An Ode to the Chamber Music Concert

#chamber #music #rocks

As I was perusing the tip box responses in our staff inbox with @fos over lunch today, I stumbled across a rather charming ode* to the Chamber Music Performance in Crowell from two Tuesday’s ago. The review was written with love and gusto, and is possibly the most eloquent piece I have had the pleasure to read during my time at Wesleyan. Whether you have been desperately awaiting a recap of this dazzling performance, or you’ve found yourself with some extra time on your hands, this is definitely worth a read. We recommend you read this piece in Professor Andrew Szegedy-Maszak‘s** voice while cuddled up with a blanket, a steaming cup of hot cocoa, and your cat.

Leaked Documents Reveal New Information on Potential China Campus

Wesleying has obtained access to documents concerning the University’s announcement that it is considering establishing a campus in Hengdian, China. These documents were sent to Wesleying by a student source, and the validity of the documents have been confirmed by the University. 

These documents include a presentation made by the University outlining the motivations behind the joint venture with Hengdian Group, the Chinese corporation that would partner with the University, the costs and benefits of opening the campus, and the financial opportunities associated with the venture. The University seems to still be in the preliminary planning process, and as far as we know, the Hengdian joint venture proposal has not resulted in any concrete commitments as of yet.

The second document included here is a draft presentation by Ernst & Young-Parthenon, a strategy consulting company, detailing the University’s performance in the higher education market. Parthenon, which joined EY in 2014, has been advising in the education industry since 1991.

The last document included here is an email from Heather Brooke, Administrative Assistant to the President, to the members of the Board (presumably the Board of Trustees) sent on September 10, 2019. She mentions that Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld, a dean at the Yale School of Management, would be presenting during the first session of the retreat. She directs the email recipients to a series of news articles that Mr. Sonnenfeld had sent along for review prior to the retreat. The materials include an article in the New York Times titled “Don’t Dismiss ‘Safe Spaces’”, “The Coddling of the American Mind” from The Atlantic, and “How Megadonors Could Rescue America’s Universities” from Fortune.

The release of these documents exemplifies a unique instance where we can observe the inner workings of the Administration’s mindset as it looks towards the future. The Hengdian presentation tells us about the University’s interests and goals in regards to this particular venture. Perhaps of greater importance, the EY-Parthenon presentation opens the door to an entirely different conversation, and provides some context as to why the University is considering pursuing the Hengdian campus in the first place.

The EY-Parthenon presentation describes the challenges facing higher education across the board. The information included in the presentation is in some respects unprecedented; it tells us a lot more than what American universities might currently be willing to reveal when it comes to the challenges that they are perceiving in a rapidly evolving world.

In publishing these documents, Wesleying’s main priority is to ensure that the entire Wesleyan community has equal access to information concerning the challenges the University is facing as it sets its sights on future growth. The Hengdian campus proposal seems to be just one example of potentially many new ventures the University will be pursuing in the coming years.

Four documents are included at the bottom of this post. The first is the original Hengdian proposal presentation. The second is an updated version that was presented to faculty on October 15th, 2019. The third is a draft copy of the EY-Parthenon presentation. The last document is Ms. Brooke’s email to the board.

Hit the jump for a summary of the documents.