Category Archives: News

Don’t Try to Pet the Black Bear Spotted in Middletown

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According to Middletown Patch and the Middletown Press, a black bear sighting in Middletown was reported early evening on Tuesday.

Middletown Police Lt. Heather Desmond advises town residents to stay alert and avoid approaching the bear. Precautionary steps include eliminating any attractants (such as food or garbage) left outside your living spaces.

The original post from Middletown Animal Control:

“No More Freshman Pledges,” University Tells Greek Organizations

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Following Monday’s announcement that Wesleyan’s single-sex residential fraternities (Psi Upsilon, Delta Kappa Epsilon, and theoretically Beta Theta Pi) must fully coeducate within three years, the University has already taken steps to enforcing this policy—but with new requirements affecting all of Greek life on campus. Beginning this semester, all Greek organizations are prohibited from taking freshman pledges.

In an email to residential Greek organization presidents on Tuesday, but which was only today brought to the attention of non-residential organizations (reproduced below), Dean Mike Whaley discussed the hiring of a new Greek Advisor and listed additional “safety measures” that now must be put into place by all Greek organizations on campus. The residential Alpha Delta Phi and Eclectic Societies are impacted, as well as the non-residential fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi (presumably Chi Psi, too) and non-residential sorority Rho Epsilon Pi.

Most notably, the University announced the elimination of “rush/pledging of first-year students,” starting immediately. Under this change, no students will be allowed to join Greek organizations until at least their sophomore year. Outside of frosh, rushing/pledging will continue as planned. In an email to Wesleying, Whaley clarified that “We are not eliminating rush/pledging this year. We are implementing a restriction on first-year students rushing/pledging during their first year on campus. Many institutions have a similar restriction.”

Princeton University passed a policy prohibiting freshman pledging in 2011, which began implementation in the fall of 2012. California Polytechnic State University did so in 2010, following the death of a freshman in an initiation ritual.

“The rationale, in part, is to allow frosh to get established with their academics and the campus prior to rush/pledge activities,” Whaley said. “Frosh can also be quite susceptible to peer pressure so we hope to reduce the possibility of hazing activities by implementing this restriction.”

BREAKING: Residential Fraternities Must Become Co-Ed

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In an email sent to the Wesleyan community this morning, the Chair of the Board of Trustees Joshua Boger ’73 and President Michael Roth ’78 informed the campus of the Board’s decision that all residential greek organizations must become fully co-educational in not just housing but within the greek organizations themselves.

The Board of Trustees convened in their retreat this past weekend, with more than half of the schedule dedicated to the issue of greek life on campus as well as the future of residential fraternities. This comes on the heel of the administration’s decision to declare Beta’s house off-limits to all students just a few weeks ago, in light of the discussions last semester within and outside of meetings in the Wesleyan Student Assembly over the issue of coeducation and residential fraternities.

Update (9/22/14 5:00PM): We asked DKE president Terence Durkin ’16 if the coeducation decision would affect their national membership and how they might implement coeducation. His response:

It is my understanding that our National Charter does not allow co-education, so this unilateral decision by the administration is problematic for us.  It seems to do away with freedom of association for a specific, carefully chosen segment of the so-called Wesleyan “community”.  The University is telling us who our friends are going to be, and who we must choose as our leaders.  This is just not right.  This is just not Wesleyan. We are exploring all options with our Alumni and undergraduates, and we will have more to say in the near future.

Dean Mike Whaley similarly reiterated that the national charter of DKE (and Beta) does not recognize coeducation, while Psi U’s does. He also pointed out that Alpha Delta Phi had a similar conflict with their national charter when they decided to co-educate in 1972. His response below:

I’ve not yet had a chance to work with any of the organizations yet given that the announcement was just made today.  As President Roth’s announcement indicates, “If the organizations are to continue to be recognized as offering housing and social spaces for Wesleyan students, women as well as men must be full members and well-represented in the body and leadership of the organization.” We’ve invited each of the all-male fraternities to develop their own plans for realizing this goal, and I will be working with them as they develop and implement their plans to make sure they are likely to reach our objectives.

Psi U, whose national permits coeducation, has asked to meet with me later this week to begin discussions and planning.

You probably already know that Psi Upsilon’s national permits coeducation, while Beta’s and DKE’s do not.  My understanding is that Alpha Delta Phi had a similar challenge with their national when they co-educated many years ago – how they overcame that obstacle could be instructive for the organizations.

UPDATED: University Librarian Pat Tully Fired Due to Provost Disagreement

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On Tuesday, August 26th—the day before freshman orientation—University Librarian Pat Tully was suddenly and unceremoniously fired. Tully has been at the school since 2004; she began as interm university librarian in 2009, before being promoted to Caleb T. Winchester University Librarian on March 1, 2010.

In an email to the faculty listserv last Tuesday, September 2nd, Tully explains the administrative disagreement behind her firing. As she did not sign any severance contract requiring her silence, we are luckily able to understand her side of the story. This is not a privilege afforded to us or many other teachers and administrators who are let go or fired—especially those who are, by all means, a respected and much-loved part of the school community.

Wesleying has acquired a copy of the letter, which was posted in full online, and has placed it below. We have also confirmed the authenticity of this letter as it was sent to the faculty. The University declined to comment on matters of personnel. Wesleying also reached out to Tully for further comment on the situation, as well as looked into University policy behind employment termination.

We will continue looking into this matter, as well as other recent firings, in the coming days.

What the University Says (And Doesn’t Say) About Firing Employees

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After Wesleying learned of the reasons behind Pat Tully’s firing on August 26, and subsequently posted her letter of explanation, I reached out to a number of administrators to ask for more information about the situation.

In light of the subsequent termination of another University mainstay, Ed Chiburis, Facility and Events Manager for the Memorial Chapel and ’92 Theater, I had some questions how—and why—employees are fired. According to Vice President of Student Affairs Mike Whaley, “Generally speaking, all students should know that (except in egregious situations) a progressive coaching/discipline system is in place to address any performance issues with any employee.  Only after that system has been exhausted would an employee be terminated.” He recommended me to talk with Human Resources about that system.

Director of Human Resources Julia Hicks, after receiving my questions about university policies, referred me instead to the staff handbook, as she could not comment about matters relating to individuals.

Assembled by the Human Resources department, the handbook does explain policies and procedures for administration, faculty, and employees. But it did not nearly answer my questions about how “termination,” as it calls it, is considered, pursued, and justified in a liberal arts university setting. Obviously the points gone over in this handbook aren’t going to be revelatory to any University staff, or really anyone out of college who’s held a real job. Students, however, probably don’t know such things—the handbook is pretty much all we have to understand the University’s side.

So let’s go through it and see what we can dig out and make sense of.

Salon Loves Our Sex Parties, But Is Salon Liberated and Free?

 The first image that came up when I googled “hispter party.”  C/o The Peanuts Gang

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Benjamin Winterhalter ’07 really wants you to know that he’s cool—but not, like, Pitchfork-Modest-Mouse-hipster-on-a-bicycle cool. No, he was cool before cool even knew it was cool. That, I assume, was the point of his Salon article “What I learned at the hipster sex party,” which asks important questions in its subtitle, like, “The place was so hip even the guy from MGMT was there. But were we liberated and free? I guess so.”

He explains up-front what he’s about to share with us: “What follows is my best reconstruction of the events of a party that took place in 2003 on the campus of Wesleyan University, one of the most hipster colleges in America.” Actually, not according to the Huffington Post, or Her Campus, or College Magazine. We’re still getting over the rejections. “It’s a good illustration of certain facets of hipster culture.” Fascinating. “It involves a minor brush with fame.”

I don’t feel like recounting what he says in this story. Read it, or don’t. It’s fun to note, though, that the author was a Philosophy and French double major, did crew, and wrote his honors thesis on The Edge of the World: Facts, Solipsism, and Self-Knowledge in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus.

Unofficial Orientation Series ’14: Rage Update

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(Image: Catherine Avalone, The Middletown Press)

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.

Wesleyan Creates New College of Integrative Sciences

On Wednesday, the Faculty voted overwhelmingly to approve a proposal for a new college, the College of Integrative Sciences (CIS), to join the College of Social Studies, College of Letters, College of the Environment, College of Film and the Moving Image, and the College of East Asian Studies. Students in CIS would have pursue a CIS Linked Major to complement an additional primary major in the Natural Sciences and Mathematics (NSM). According to the proposal, the new CIS aims to “offer Wesleyan students a curricular and research framework that enables new ways of thinking at the frontiers of science.” 

BREAKING: #AFAMisWhy is Marching on Wesleyan

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Beginning at noon today from the Science Library, students have been marching across campus in protest of the administration’s lack of support for African American Studies. This comes at the heels of a massive petition campaign, where other members of the Wesleyan community were encouraged to add their names to a resolution calling for the Provost to prioritize faculty hires in AFAM, to fill the empty lines that are in AFAM currently, as well as demanding a response from President Roth or Provost Ruth Striegel Weissman.

This resolution previously passed the Wesleyan Student Assembly on May 4th, when the WSA decided to suspend their bylaws (in which they are not allowed to vote on a resolution introduced that same day) to vote on the resolution the day of. The resolution passed unanimously and within a week’s time, has garnered over 850 additional signatures from the community.

The March today, entitled “March on Wesleyan,” moved from SciLi into Olin, then across Foss, through Admissions and Usdan, then through North College and ending at South College. Along the way, everyone chanted various phrases, as well as singing the following version of the fight song:

’14 Commencement Speaker: Theodore M. Shaw ’76

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About two months ago, President Michael Roth sent out an email to the entire campus announcing the honorary degree recipients for 2014, as well as the commencement speaker for the Class of 2014. This year’s commencement address will be given by Theodore M. Shaw ’76, a leading proponent of civil rights, previous Wesleyan trustee (twice!), and also a prior recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Wesleyan. You can read the entirety of Roth’s email below.

Shaw’s dedication and work to civil rights and human rights is indeed impressive. Currently a professor at Columbia University, where he also received his J.D. in 1979, he was previously an attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund for over two decades. What’s most notable about Shaw’s work—that perhaps most directly affects us as college students—was his involvement in creating University of Michigan Law School’s controversial affirmative action policy in the early 2000s, something that has been controversial again just last month.