Content warning: This article discusses issues of sexual assault involving current and former Wesleyan students, faculty and staff.
It has been more than 24 hours since keys were due to ResLife for all who aren’t seniors or people who are working for senior week. Campus is much quieter and there are 96% fewer parents on campus today than there were yesterday.
In anticipation of the frenzy of move out day, a collection of students have taken this time to bring light to some of the issues surrounding cases of sexual assault at Wesleyan. At several prominent locations around campus (Music House, Community Engagement House, WestCo, and Hewitt), banners were hung reading “Reject Sexual Predators Emboldened by Institutional Power.”
“I see students going about business as usual, as if there’s not something so grossly and monumentally messed up with the state of Wesleyan University.”
In middle school, I distinctly remember having to say, in a classroom full of my peers, that Holocaust jokes are not okay. That my grandmom was a Holocaust survivor. That so many of my family members died.
I also remember the uncomfortable silence that followed. Afterwards, people would stop making those “jokes” around me, or at least made them knowing that I would call them on it, that they couldn’t get away with being that awful. I remember a lot of uncomfortable silences after that.
I also remember wondering what happened when I was not in the room. I remember wondering if the people I spent all of my time with—in classes, in activities, in the community at large—ever made a Holocaust joke when they knew I wasn’t there to make them feel guilty for it.
I remember thinking a lot about the word “integrity.” What you do when nobody’s watching. I remember feeling like I did not trust the integrity of the people who stopped making Holocaust “jokes” around me because I saw them make other hurtful comments that targeted other groups, and passing it off as humor. I remember wanting to say something, but not wanting to be the buzzkill, the girl who took everything too seriously.
I’ve thought about that a lot this week.
Sarah Small ’18 wrote a powerful piece on her blog Hapaholla about Roth’s email regarding the Is This Why demands (which you can read here), and she’s given us permission to share it below. If any other students are interested in sharing their thoughts on Wesleying, feel free to email us at staff(at)wesleying(dot)org.
Small’s piece is after the jump.
“I had a good experience getting my ESA approved at Wesleyan.”
Author’s note: This article discusses suicidal thoughts.
Several days ago, we published a feature on one student’s account of dealing with the administration when they kicked her out of her original senior housing and ordered her to remove her Emotional Support Animal from campus. At the end of that post, we had a call for submissions, and a 2014 alum (who wishes to remain anonymous) wrote in with her experience.
If you would like to discuss your dealings with the administration, please email us at staff(at)wesleying(dot)org.
The story is after the jump.
Hundreds of students have been protesting about racial inequality present on campus, and today — known as the National Day of Action — a list of demands written by students of color went live on the website IsThisWhy.com:
President Michael Roth, past presidents, and the bureaucracy of this institution have actively neglected to address issues that pertain to students of color and empower them with the same level of resources, consideration, and inclusion historically available to white students. Thus, we present the following demands:
WE DEMAND EQUITY & INCLUSION
We, members of the student of color community (SOC), demand to be holistically included as part of Wesleyan University’s student body, to have our demands heard on campus, and to be recognized and respected as individuals, not simply as numbers to fill the institution’s diversity quota.
STATEMENT OF ACCOUNTABILITY
We demand a written statement addressed to the Wesleyan Community, within 48 hours, from the President of Wesleyan University, Michael Roth, and Vice President for Equity and Inclusion/Title IX Officer, Antonio Farias, to commit to these demands by the specified deadlines via an action plan that works towards a more equitable and inclusive campus environment. This statement should highlight the administration’s inaction and lack of dedication to adequately support students of color and acknowledge the ways that the senior administrators have failed the SOC community, including but not limited to:
This post is the first in a small series of reflections on the recent events on campus, to be published over the next few days. If you have anything that you would like to contribute, please feel free to reach out to us.
I am writing this in response to the traumatic and overwhelming events that have happened over the past few days – the hospitalization of a dozen students and the arrest of four others, as well as the media and institutional reactions. I hope that this can be a space of positive dialogue and solidarity, where we share our thoughts and reflections with compassion and humanity. I hope to counter the intense and destructive negativity and inappropriateness of some of the language being used to address these events in our own community, in person and online, in the media portrayals and in the administration’s emails. These events remind of us of the importance of fostering a supportive community, one that we must build on our own, as the student body. These thoughts hope to help support that process of reconciliation, healing, and empowerment.
For anybody who was a fan of the bunny in the Nics last year or a certain cat on Home this year, a search through the Argives (Argus archives) has unearthed something for you. A short hop up to floor 3A in Olin revealed that in our past, pets were a welcome part of the Wesleyan community. In a series of articles and opinion pieces between 1973 and 1975, Argus writers covered not only the changes to the school’s pet policy but also the student outrage after the changes were made during summer break.
By the 1974-1975 academic year, having a pet was looked down upon by the administration. In the words of Dean Edgar F. Beckham, “when pet behavior is not carefully monitored and controlled, Wesleyan becomes a bad environment for many pets and a much worse environment for man members of the community.” Perhaps we can forgive the gendered language as a sign of times past.
The first article, “Beckham Defends Pet Policy” by Chris Mahoney ’76, exposes the controversy that would surround the pet policy for weeks. At the end of the 1973-1974 academic year, the Student Affairs Committee (SAC) and administration refused to implement a new pet policy because they thought it would be “‘inappropriate’ to take such action over the summer without campus discussion.” Then, over the summer, the school asked the SAC to vote on proposed new pets restrictions via mail during the summer recess. The restrictions included a $30 registration fee and tags for all uncaged animals. The SAC members voted in favor of the proposal.
In the growing movement of campus fossil fuel divestment campaigns, not everyone is on board. James Lawrence Powell has written a piece on why rejection of such policies is so problematic, inspired by recent dismissals of divestment action from the presidents of Brown and Harvard.
Our second (and maybe final) presidential interview is with William Chace, president from 1988 to 1994.
William Chace was only president of Wesleyan for six years, but between firebombings, racially charged graffiti, student occupations, and hunger strikes, he probably dealt with enough strife and campus unrest to fill two decades of Wes history. Twenty years later, Chace, a literature scholar and former Stanford administrator, still wrestles with his Wesleyan experience. “Those were the hardest years of my life,” President Chace told Wesleying. “It was a tough place for me.”
“Perhaps some of the problems were of my own making,” he conceded, “but I didn’t bomb my own office.”
Back in the fall, we contacted President Chace, who left the presidency of Emory University in 2003 and now lives in California, for an interview. “Well, of course,” Chace soon replied. “But please keep in mind that I left Wesleyan in 1994, some 18 years ago, and I do not have with me records of the time. So it will be memory, all memory, a facility at once pregnant with apparent certitude and often quite erroneous.”