Category Archives: Featured

Grand Cousin’s Debut EP Dropped, And (No Surprise) It’s Great

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Things have been going pretty well for Grand Cousin: Henry Hall ’14Evan Low ’14, and Robby Caplan ’14 have been more active than ever since graduating in May, and they’re getting all sorts of press about that “music” thing they do. From The AV Club writing up their single “Oxygen” to Paste Magazine premiering their other song “Better” to other publications that aren’t Wesleying doting over their guitar-smart, upbeat, catchy-as-anything “alternative pop” (their descriptor, but I think it’s pretty apt), this band is not finding it too tough to burst the Wesleyan bubble. (Maybe soon, they’ll stop talking about the band in reference to a certain entertainment figure that a certain member is related to! A kid can dream.)

Now you can hear their debut EP, coming out tomorrow. Big step for a new band, although they’ve been together since 2010 so it’s about time. But be glad they gave it such close attention, because the immaculately-produced EP is full of musical goodies—I wouldn’t call it “easy on the ears,” because even though Hall’s voice is sweet and sunshiney, and every song has a sharp hook, the band is playing their instruments like they’re aiming for the big leagues. “Wring Your Hands” has a jaunty pace but off-putting (in a good way) guitar popping up in the background here and there. “How I Care” has a mean bass solo midway through that took me by surprise, and even the Grizzly Bear-like “Oxygen” features some bright guitar noodling. (“Oxygen” is a serious song-of-the-summer contender.) “Better” gets a little more rocking with the drum fills competing for most prominent instrument, while “Me Time” shows them slowing down with no less attention to detail.

Grand Cousin personally described the EP in an interview with A Music Blog, Yea? as “Anxious lyrics, deep grooves, tasty melodies.” Fitting? You can hear for yourself and stream the whole album at Nylon Guys Mag, and it will be out the rest of the world tomorrow, I assume via the usual retailers/ask your friend of a friend for a burned cd. Meanwhile, enjoy the thoroughly hilarious “Oxygen” video below.

Beloved Faculty Leave Wesleyan’s AfAm Department

from left: Professor Mahurin, Elsa Hardy '14, Professor Leah Wright. Photo courtesy of Melody Oliphant '13

from left: Professor Mahurin, Elsa Hardy ’14, Professor Leah Wright. Photo courtesy of Melody Oliphant ’13

As students flock back to Middletown, CT in late August, two professors will be missing. Professor Sarah Mahurin and Professor Leah Wright, cornerstones of the University’s African American Studies Department (and, dare I say it, Wesleyan itself), will not teach courses next fall. In the midst of all of the commotion surrounding the status of the AfAm Department—one knows something made a splash when President Roth writes not one, but two blog posts about the issue—their departure from Wesleyan deserves recognition and further scrutiny into AfAm’s history and current status.

During their time at Wesleyan, Assistant Professors Mahurin and Wright advised the majority of students in the AfAm Department, numerous Mellon Mays fellows, and students in their other departments of English and History, respectively. Beyond providing generous academic support for their students, they were both immersed in other spheres of campus life: they hosted forums on the intersection of pop culture and race; they showed up to student performances, readings, and athletic events; and they always had students coming and going from their offices in the Center for African American Studies (CAAS) building, sometimes asking for help with essays, sometimes asking for life advice. Their absence will be felt acutely across campus.

Rising Frosh Feature: Maya Peterson ’18 of BuzzFeed Fame

c/o Buzzfeed

“What happens when a prep school’s black student president mocks her white male classmates?” a recent BuzzFeed article asks.

Well, she gets ousted as school president and then attends Wesleyan.

Maya Peterson’s tenure at Lawrenceville School, a prep school in New Jersey, focused on bringing awareness to diversity issues, whether that was trying to ease implicit racial tensions or bring gender neutral bathrooms to campus. The trouble started when she and some of her friends posed with their fists in the air in a “black power” photo in their yearbook. After some students complained to the principal about this, Maya instagrammed a photo of herself as a typical “Lawrenceville boi,” teasing her main critics, with hashtags like #romney2016,” “#confederate,” and “#peakedinhighschool.”

“You’re the student body president, and you’re mocking and blatantly insulting a large group of the school’s male population,” one student commented on the photo.

“Yes, I am making a mockery of the right-wing, confederate-flag hanging, openly misogynistic Lawrentians,” Peterson responded. “If that’s a large portion of the school’s male population, then I think the issue is not with my bringing attention to it in a lighthearted way, but rather why no one has brought attention to it before…”

Mercury In Regular-grade, Van Vleck Equipped To View It

Does this mean that our telescope is still 1 inch longer than Amherst’s?

Although I’m not currently on campus to confirm this breaking news, the Van Vleck Observatory might look a little different these days. The almost 100 year-old 20-inch refractor telescope is getting computerized, so that it will be much easier to use. The telescope itself was built in 1916, but it was installed in 1920 (there was a bit of a delay because the glass lens was ordered from Germany and so World War I made speedy delivery impossible). I suppose it was worth the wait because, according to the Astronomy Department, “the glass quality was found to be very high across the whole disk, allowing a 20 inch aperture rather than the 18.5 inches that had been ordered.” The telescope was used to help Walter Scott Houston research his lovely column that ran in the 1950s, “Deep-Sky Wonders.” 

The good news for younger students is that once the project is completed in 2016, the observatory will be open for viewing on every clear night, not just twice a month. You can stay up-to-date with the restoration process by following the Astronomy Department’s twitter feed.

Recent Wes Grads on Where They’ll Be in 20 Years

Greg Faxon ’14 asked members of the class of ’14 “where do you see yourself in 20 years?” the day before graduation. Answers ranged from “studying medicine” to “pondering my first career.” See for yourself where other recent grads see themselves in two decades.

Leave a comment below if you want to answer Greg’s question! Between graduating and turning 41, Wes alums have gotten married, traveled the world, and had successful careers in basically any field you can think of.

Stouck ’15 Drops Brand Spanking New Album + Video

David Stouck ’15, otherwise known by his rap pseudonym Dae, has dropped a bilingual (English+Chinese) concept album based on the story of Jonah and the Whale. It’s called Inherited High and it’s available for download here.

While you are waiting for the album to download, check out this sweet video. And make sure to read more about the album below!!!

Stouck writes the following:

Inherited High is as much an auto-biography as it is a concept album. Based on the Story of Jonah and The Whale, the songs work together to expose the reality of my privileged experience attending private High School in Washington, D.C.

Read more after the jump!

More All-Gender Bathrooms to be in Effect by the Fall

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By the fall, Wesleyan will have a mix of new all-gender single-use and gendered multi-use bathrooms. After the trans* activism in the fall, when gendered bathroom signs were taken off most campus bathrooms, new all-gender bathroom signs popped up in many campus buildings (Exley, Usdan, North College, 41 Wyllys are the ones I noticed firsthand). By the end of this summer, “a new all-gender bathroom will be created on the ground floor of Olin, next to the existing men’s and women’s rooms,” according to University Librarian Pat Tully. “It is being created out of an existing custodial closet, which will be moved just down the hall.”

Physical Plant has gradually installed new bathroom signs across campus, and they committed to complete the installation before the end of the summer. Vice President for Student Affairs Dean Mike Whaley pledged to publish a list of the all-gender bathrooms online once the installations are done. According to him, “We actually have quite a lot of single-use all gender restrooms across campus, but awareness about where they are located needs to be better.”

On a related note, the fines paid by the trans* activists for taking down the original signs only represented a “tiny fraction of the total cost” of the new all-gender signs, according to Dean Whaley. And instead of paying fees, some of the activists worked to install the new signs. The gendered multi-use bathrooms will also have new signs that indicate where the location of the nearest all-gender bathroom is.

Below is the full memo by Dean Whaley and the WSA (originally drafted 11/20/13) outlining plans for de-gendering bathrooms and posting new all-gender signs. These plans should be completed by the end of the summer: 

Wesleyan Commencement 2014 Liveblog

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Welcome to the 2014 Commencement liveblog, in which Wesleying reports what is seen and heard during the graduation ceremony. Stay tuned for photos and live updates after the jump. You can view the live stream of the ceremony here, courtesy of IMS. Congrats Class of ’14! May you walk down Foss and up the podium in brazen, red glory to Korean drumming.  

Go for Perfect, Wes

Fare ye better. -- pyrotechnics

As I contemplate my impending graduation in a matter of hours, I find myself wondering what Wes will be in the next semester and beyond. What should Wes be?

Wesleyan is not a perfect place, and only our Admissions brochures pretend that that’s the case. We’ve got problems, big problems. We’ve got deep, meaty, institutional problems. We’ve got acrid, calcifying, traditional problems. We’ve got murky, messy, cultural problems. For the moment I’ll let you define precisely what those are–the point is, Wes is not a perfect place. We all spend days here unhappy, frustrated, hurt. And by and large, we try to change that.

That’s a long, lonely road, but a good one.