Two weeks ago, Antonio Farias emailed out some updates to Wesleyan’s policies and support networks relating to issues of sexual assault on campus. In the email sent on February 1st, which can be read in full on the Equity & Inclusion blog, Farias announced the hiring of Johanna DeBari, M.A. as the director of the new Office of Survivor Advocacy and Community Education (or SACE, for short).
DeBari partially fills the role of Alysha Warren who, before she took a job at Williams beginning Fall 2017, was in charge of survivor advocacy, running the We Speak We Stand performance during New Student Orientation and bystander intervention training programs, and worked in CAPS as a licensed therapist specializing in trauma resulting from sexual violence.
After the email was sent out, I reached out to Johanna for a Wesleying feature on the new office, her goals for the position, and her past research on sexual violence on campus. We ended up doing an email interview. Here’s what we talked about:
University Provost Joyce Jacobsen and President Roth emailed the entire campus earlier this semester about two “facilities forums.”
You: “Wesleying, wtf is that?? It sounds like a snoozefest!”
Wesleying: “It very well might be, but we do think it’s going to cover a lot of important issues and we wanted to liveblog so that other folks who can’t attend know what’s going on.”
According to the email, the folks in North College “are reaching out for broad input” on what improvements to make to different physical spaces around campus. The email mentioned a list of things being considered:
- Moving the DAC collections into Olin Library
- Expanding the current digital design studio into a larger digital design commons
- Renovating the south gallery in Zilkha
- Building the third phase of the Center for Film Studies
- Renovating the PAC and building
- A new science building to replace Hall-Atwater
Yeah, it seems important. So here we go:
In perhaps the most momentous chapter of a saga dating back to the Fall of 2014, the Wesleyan chapter of DKE (Delta Kappa Epsilon) has just won another huge victory in its lawsuit against the university.
Just before 6PM today, President Roth sent out yet another email with the subject line reading “Campus Update.” This time, it was to inform us that a judge ruled that Wesleyan must allow DKE access to 276 High Street at the start of the Fall 2018. Three classes of students have never set foot in the fraternity, located directly across the street from President Roth’s house, but it may soon be open to undergraduates once more.
Wesleyan plans to file an appeal, but the exact path forward remains shrouded in mystery as of this evening. Read past the jump for the full email, and our key takeaways.
Yesterday, Joyce Walter, Director of Davison Health Center sent an all-campus email alerting the campus that DHC is moving forward with the search for a director of Survivor Advocacy and Community Education, ostensibly to replace Alysha Warren, who was the inaugural Sexual Assault Resource Coordinator/Therapist until she left Wesleyan earlier this fall.
Wesleyan solicits donations from alumni year-round to support the many fundraising campaigns that keep Wesleyan afloat (but somehow still not need-blind…). Over the summer, I spoke with Cade Leebron ’14 about her own campaign for alumni to speak up about the many issues that students and alumni alike see at the school. She began Text Wes Back to collect actual responses that she and other alumni sent back when Wesleyan texted them to donate money to the school.
Read below the jump for the full interview.
Content warning: This interview discusses sexual assault.
If you’re on campus, you likely received an all-campus email from Joyce Jacobsen, Wesleyan’s provost, earlier this afternoon with the news of University Librarian Dan Cherubin‘s passing after a battle with cancer. His passing is a tremendous loss to the Wesleyan community, and to almost all who knew him.
Dan came to Wesleyan at the beginning of last year and made explicit commitments to make the library a space for all. His Twitter, @skalibrarian, was like none other. We interacted quite frequently through the social network, and I came to know how committed he was to Wesleyan students, faculty, and staff. The full text of Provost Jacobsen’s email is after the jump.
You have worked, implicitly and explicitly, directly and indirectly, to make Wesleyan a hostile environment for people of color, students with disabilities, trans students, survivors of sexual assault and pretty much any student who does not fit into your image of the “conservative oppressed by the liberal arts.” What’s more, you have repeatedly refused to engage with students in any meaningful way about the ways in which you’ve created this hostile environment. So I have resorted to engaging with you on your own terms: in a blog post.
This afternoon, President Michael Roth ’78 sent out an email informing the campus community that DKE has won its lawsuit against the University. The trial, which was public, began on June 6th, and President Roth testified on June 7th.
The original suit was filed by DKE and Kent Literary Society, which is DKE’s alumni chapter. DKE accused the University of discrimination and deceptive practices in its handling of DKE after the decision that all fraternities on campus must be co-educated. DKE had submitted plans for co-education that did not meet the University’s requirements.
The University has not said what will happen with DKE’s house, or whether it will re-achieve program housing status. Roth states that the University is searching for further legal avenues to pursue, and the University must also decide what to do in terms of its plans for coeducation.
The full text of the email is below:
“Admitting that a man with a long history of sexual predation acted inappropriately and hurt students’ lives in his role as Associate Dean of Students for almost ten years is a necessary first step, and further changes and amends also need to follow.”
Content warning: This article discusses issues of sexual assault involving current and former Wesleyan students, faculty and staff.
Since last Monday’s news of Scott Backer’s arrest, many in the Wesleyan community have been responding with renewed frustration and anger at the current administration for their present and past handling of sexual misconduct cases.
One survivor has stated publicly that Scott Backer allowed for statements about a respondents character (e.g. “He’s such a good guy.”) during a hearing, despite this being against University policy, according to their account. Other accounts tell of Scott Backer asking invasive personal questions during the investigation process.
As a result of these stories and others, a petition was created calling for Wesleyan to admit that Scott Backer mishandled cases of sexual assault during his time on campus. Back in October, when the Wesleyan community was notified of the real reasons for Scott Backer’s firing 3 months after Wesleyan announced his departure sans commentary, President Roth mentioned that after a consultation from Pepper Hamilton, they found “nothing amiss” in the four years’ worth of sexual misconduct cases that Backer oversaw. Since then, there has been no detailed public mention of how Pepper Hamilton went about reviewing cases.
The petition has been circulating on social media and in other channels. It demands for an acknowledgement of Backer’s mishandling of Title IX cases; a disclosure of how Pepper Hamilton conducted its review; and a commitment to “[taking] real steps to make amends for the harm [Backer] caused,” suggesting a task force made up of more students than administrators to conduct Title IX reform as a possible solution. The petition was later updated to include a demand that Wesleyan acknowledge Backer’s mishandling of disability services, which he also oversaw as Associate Dean of Students. Read past the jump for the full text of the petition.
“As someone who identifies with the political left, I welcome this intellectual diversity–and as a teacher, I know that education requires it. If you are on the right, you might call this a remedy for political correctness; if you are on the left, you might prefer to call it the ‘new intersectionality.'”
c/o the Wall Street Journal op-ed
In the haste of reading period and yesterday’s news, we missed big news from President Roth’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal calling for affirmative action for “conservative, libertarian and religious modes of thinking” on college campuses. The op-ed generated quite the buzz on Twitter, and even received mild praise from notable conservative magazine the National Review. Roth’s op-ed, entitled “The Opening of the Liberal Mind” was published in the Wall Street Journal behind a paywall last Thursday, May 11. Luckily, thanks to the Wesleyan Library’s databases, Wesleyan students have access to the op-ed.