Category Archives: Politics

The Impeachment that Exposed the WSA: An Investigation

this article has been the collaborative effort of  sdz,  hen,  fern, and  fos

Late in the evening on Thursday, April 30th, an anonymous student published a blog post on Medium.com titled “On Impeachments & Coverups.” The article alleged misconduct on the part of several WSA members and cited the impeachment of Huzaifa Khan ‘22, who was then running unopposed for the WSA presidency. Until this point, few outside of the WSA had heard about Huzaifa’s impeachment and proximal resignation. The post was disseminated to the student body via the WesAdmits Facebook groups by Fitzroy Pablo Wickham ‘21. Several hours later, Khan issued his own lengthy response via Wes Admits 2023, announcing the end of his candidacy.

These developments came as a shock. Wesleyan’s student government wields far more power than its counterparts at peer institutions (including being directly in charge of over $800,000 in funds), and the members of the WSA are now tasked with leading the student response to an unprecedented global crisis. The last we knew, the WSA was working hard to advocate for students, and its efforts appeared to be running smoothly.

The WSA is pursuing measures to bring aid to Wesleyan students, and many of its efforts have a particular focus on students of first-generation, low-income (FGLI) backgrounds. Alongside the rest of the Leadership Board, Huzaifa took the lead on these initiatives, and was a public-facing advocate for students, both at meetings and on social media. In the eyes of most students, and of this here blog, it seemed that the WSA was fulfilling its duty to represent student interests to the Administration. 

So what went wrong? And why should you care about the wheelings and dealings of our student government? After all, any student group is prone to miscommunications, drama, and other issues, right?

Unfortunately, the Medium post is just the latest in a series of bizarre events we uncovered as we started investigating the impeachment. We learned that Huzaifa was impeached, that he resigned hastily before the WSA could notify the school, that the WSA covered it all up, and that he then ran for president unopposed is nothing less than bizarre. And the fact that this was all happening amidst a moment of not only campus-wide, but worldwide chaos? Well, we were just floored.

It’s true that during this global pandemic, senators have worked tirelessly to distribute funding and critical information. But, these developments raise questions. How did the WSA, an institution meant to represent the interests of the student body, become so entrenched in its own mess? And, how can we trust the WSA to serve students and hold the administration accountable when it seems like it’s struggling to hold itself accountable?

[Editor’s note: a fellow Wesleying editor was personally involved with the people and events detailed in this article. The editor recused herself from this piece.]

 

Click here to see a timeline of the events

Mar. 8 – Mar. 29 – Wesleyan announces suspension of in-person classes and transitions online WSA creates WSA Supplementary Emergency Fund to provide relief to students dealing with COVID 19-related costs.

Mar. 30 – Apr. 12 – Huzaifa messages an applicant for the Emergency Fund via Facebook Messenger. Applicant emails WSA president Justin Ratkovic ‘20 and SBC chair Aditi Shenoy ‘20 informing them of the incident, saying that Huzaifa’s behavior was “outside the limits of professionalism.” Later, Huzaifa sends a message to the applicant apologizing for his behavior.

Apr. 13 – Apr. 19 – Huzaifa decides to run for WSA president. Then-Chief of Staff Adam Hickey ’22 serves impeachment to Huzaifa. Adam and Huzaifa resign. WSA does not continue with impeachment hearings. Two WSA senators withdraw from the presidential and vice presidential elections.

Apr. 20 – Apr. 27 – A haze. Nothing too exciting. WSA elections begin. 

Apr. 28 – May 1 – sdz and hen don’t leave their laptops for 96 hours. Wesleying receives an open letter, and begins working on an article. Three days later, an edited version of the open letter is anonymously leaked on Medium. Following the posting of the letter, Huzaifa suspends his presidential campaign.

May 2 – This article is posted.

 

Michael Roth, Protest, and Free Speech (Part 2 of 2)

This is Part 2 of a two-part article. Read the first part here.

Activism is used by Wesleyan as a means of advertisement, made into a commodity

Spring 2019 – Police Reports

Police reports from April 11th

According to Middletown Police reports, Public Safety called the police on April 11th not once, but twice, once at 9:17 AM, and again at 2:16 PM, with no actual presence from the police occurring for the first call.

Michael Roth, Protest, and Free Speech (Part 1 of 2)

 

Many students, myself included, feel that Roth’s advocacy and authority on free speech and campus protest do not line up in reality given his record of activity concerning these topics at Wesleyan, using his perceived advocacy to both profit himself (such as the release of a book that addresses his advocacy for his brand of free speech), as well as Wesleyan itself. Let’s take a look at his and Wesleyan’s record in recent times.

Art+Feminism: Wikipedia Edit-a-thon

Bad-ass sophomore Rebecca Rubenstein ’21 writes in:

There is massive gender inequity in Wikipedia – both in terms of topics/people represented, and contributors. We can change that! Come learn the basics of Wikipedia editing to increase representation of/boost access to the work of marginalized artists, activists, and game-changers.

THERE WILL BE PIZZA Y’ALL.

Date: Thursday, May 9
Time: 12:30-1:30 PM
Place: Boger 115

Students and Custodians Allege Labor Violations against Wesleyan

Wesleying stands in solidarity with our custodial workers in their fight to be treated with dignity and respect as they clean and care for our campus. We affirm their demand for Wesleyan to hire five more workers, and offer our platform and support to the workers and students who are organizing to achieve this.

Tomorrow (Friday, April 26), at noon, students, campus workers, and community members will join together at North College to rally for Five More Workers: Support Good Jobs at Wes. Students, other Wesleyan workers, community organizations, labor unions, artists, and even two sitting Congresspeople (Rep. Pramila Jayapal WA-07 and Rep. Andy Levin MI-09) have expressed their support for Wesleyan’s custodial workers, and Friday’s rally is anticipated to be the largest action yet.

This comes just two weeks after United Student/Labor Action Committee (USLAC) organized a series of protests and disruptions during WesFest to call attention to the unreasonable workloads of our school’s custodians and to demand that Wesleyan hire five more workers. (If you want to know more about the WesFest actions, the Argus did a great job covering them.)

Since WesFest, the administration has failed to take action on (or take seriously) the protesters’ demands and workers’ testimonies, citing data shared in an all-campus email from Chief Administrative Officer, and Treasurer Andy Tanaka on Wednesday, April 24 as justification. USLAC responded by sharing a point-by-point rebuttal of the “facts” presented in Tanaka’s email.

A graph compiled by USLAC to explain perceived flaws in the administration’s data analysis

As mentioned in these documents, there have been new developments with regard to the legality of Wesleyan and SMG’s employment practices. On Friday, April 19, Wesleyan students and custodians worked together to file a National Labor Relations Board charge against Service Management Group (SMG), a custodial services subcontractor, and Wesleyan University as joint employers. This occurred after custodians and students reviewed SMG’s corporate handbook and identified several violations of federal labor law.

Read on to learn more about the violations, their significance, and to view the full redacted complaint.

WRP’s Advocacy Week: “Art and Migration”

Caroline Kravitz ’19 writes in:

Join us for Wesleyan Refugee Project‘s second annual ‘Advocacy Week’! Throughout the week, various artists and activists will be visiting campus to perform and speak about storytelling through art. Events include film screenings, panels, fundraisers, and performances by local artists. This week is intended to spark conversations both on and beyond Wesleyan’s campus about art as a form of activism, empowerment, or other times as exploitation. By raising these questions, we hope to re-examine our definitions of crisis, activism, art, and agency. We also hope to think critically about how we frame and engage with one another’s voices.

A brief outline of the lineup of events is as follows:

Mon. April 22nd:
‘Greening the Camps’ Conference call and lunch: 12-1pm
‘Another News Story’ Film screening: 7-8:30 pm

Tues. April 23rd:
‘Know Your Rights’ Training: 12:15-1pm
‘Art & Ethics’ Panel and dinner: 5:30-7pm

Weds. April 24th:
Film-Aid Short Film Screenings & Fundraiser Dinner: 6-8pm

Thurs. April 25th:
‘Matangi/Maya/M.I.A’ Documentary Screening: 7-8:30 pm

Fri. April 26th:
‘Post Advocacy Week Round Table Discussion’: 12-1pm

**Be sure to check out our flyer, in addition to individual facebook event pages/posts as next week approaches!**

ALL EVENTS ARE FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!

Date: Monday, April 22 – Friday, April 26
Time and Place vary per event. Check out the Facebook Event for more information!

Divest Now: Wesleyan University’s Institutional Obligation to Address Climate Injustice

Written by Ben Silverstone ‘22 and Ernest Braun ‘22 on behalf of WesDivest, Climate Action GroupWesDems, Sunrise, and a coalition of other sustainability groups, this guest post addresses climate injustice and what Wesleyan must do now to ensure our planet’s future:

“12 years from now, in 2031, Wesleyan will celebrate its bicentennial anniversary. In 2030, the UN’s IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) warns that we will reach environmental tipping points that will speed up the pace of the climate crisis. The catastrophic warming resulting from the extraction and burning of fossil fuels which has already begun to ravage our planet will be irreversible for millennia. As the students, faculty, and administration reflect upon Wesleyan’s accomplishments over the past 200 years, perhaps they will wonder what Wesleyan may look like in another 200 years, or even in 50. Unless we take drastic actions to reduce our emissions now, we already know the answer to that question.

We are WesDivest. We formed to urge the administration to divest our endowment from the fossil fuel industry, to commit to renewable energy and reduced consumption, and to lead by example in the fight for the futures of our generation. We formed because all of human civilization is implicated in the same challenge for the next decade: to stop greenhouse gas emissions before we make the planet uninhabitable. With this challenge in mind, any institution that ignores the reality of climate change is contributing to its own demise and doing a moral disservice to humanity. Therefore, all people who are invested in Wesleyan’s enduring success – and that of its students  – should seriously consider divestment from fossil fuels and begin building a more sustainable future.

Read the rest of this guest post after the jump:

Bernie Sanders Town Hall Watch Party

From Wesleyan Democratic Socialists:

Join Wesleyan Democratic Socialists to watch Bernie Sanders give his first town hall of his 2020 presidential campaign!

All are welcome, whether you knocked doors in 2016 or are just curious to hear more about his policies and democratic socialism!

Snacks will be provided!

Date: Monday, February 25
Time: 8 PM
Place: PAC 001
Facebook Event

Cracking Open a Pecan

This fall, I taught a student forum through the American Studies department called “Critical Perspectives on Texas.” Historically Texas has served as a site of settler colonialism, racial domination, strict reification of gender roles and repressive sexuality, and economic importance with its oil and agricultural industries.

To name a few topics, the class examined: Texas’s modern-day electoral politics in sociohistorical context; intersectional feminist border studies and the Drug War; health care disparities, race, and climate change in Houston; gentrification and segregation in Austin; the legacy of plantation slavery in the influential Texas prison system; cowboy culture and the myth of the frontier; and indigenous resistance to the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

I grew up in Austin, Texas, and as an American Studies major, a growing activist, and someone who has become obsessed with regionalism since coming to Wesleyan, teaching this forum was a way for me to better understand my home and to help other students learn about the state through a critical lens. I wrote this piece, “Cracking Open a Pecan,” as a final project for our last day of class: