(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.
For those of you who Wesleying’d last year and saw our 2012 Year in Review post, brace yourselves: the 2013 Wesleying Year in Review is here. So, how does our Buzzfeed-esque list of all things Wesleyan work? In here, you’ll find the top ten biggest moments to hit campus during the 2013 year, along with a bunch of honorable mentions. For each point, we provide numerous links to Wesleying articles so you can become schooled if you missed anything during the year.
The big takeaway from this post is to remember that these issues are forever ongoing; just because something happened at the beginning of 2013 doesn’t make it any less important now that 2014 is upon us. We have a ton of bizarre, interesting, obnoxious, awesome, and freaky things happen on this campus, and it’s crucial to keep the institutional memory alive.
My usual disclaimer: Obviously, I didn’t get to everything. So instead of leaving us a snarky comment saying that we’re a bunch of Internet-addicted hillbillies, feel free to leave your other big Wesleyan moments in the comments section.
In addition, these events are in no particular order of importance, severity, seriousness, or enormity. The order is seriously random.
Read after the jump to see what Wes events made the list!
Newsweek used this photo in their article to contrast the liberal values
that the school likes to think it has with the conservative mindset it actually practices.
Maybe Wesleyan University learned a lesson today: Not all press is good press.
Today’s in-depth and certainly unflattering Newsweek article by Katie Baker (who wrote that Jezebel piece in May ridiculing the administration for its medieval Tour de Franzia threats) asserts that “Wesleyan seems to be slinking away from its weird and activist roots to attract rich students and even richer donors.” What could the school have done to deserve this sort of criticism?
As we are quite aware, the answer is: a lot. Baker’s article (following on the heels of two Autostraddle and Youngist articles) begins with the issues over degendering bathrooms, with several trans* students speaking up about their not-so-welcome experiences on campus, both from other students in the bathroom (“Wrong bathroom, fag!” one gender nonconforming student heard) and from the administration as a whole. After the group Pissed Off Trans* People organized students to remove gendered bathroom signs and replace them with “All Gender Restroom” signs, the Student Judicial Board singled out three trans* students (claiming they were the only identifiable ones) and charged them with property destruction, at the cost of $157 per sign— $5,245 total.
After a four-and-a-half hour hearing, the board lowered the fine to $451 and gave each student three disciplinary points (10 earns a suspension or dismissal). “The SJB action was taken because vandalism occurred,” Vice President of Student Affairs Mike Whaley said in a statement. “The board does not strive to determine the legitimacy of a protest/action, only whether such protest/action is done in a manner that violates our community’s standards.”
The three students tell Newsweek they feel they were unfairly singled out for actions committed by many but were most concerned with the symbolism of it all: This was the first time anyone knows of that the administration had punished individuals for LGBT activism.
“We’re talking about economic sanctions on activism at a school that profits off a reputation of being a progressive, activist-friendly space,” says Ben, a Wesleyan junior. “Being trans and fighting for trans justice is not profitable or shiny or appealing.”
NOTE FROM BZOD: About a month ago, a group called the Pissed Off Trans* People pulled down a number of gendered bathroom signs around campus, replacing them with paper all gender bathroom signs and a manifesto entitled “All Gender Bathrooms Now.” Two days ago, an anonymous poster published the following article on tumblr under the title “Complete Bullshit: An Update on the Trans* De-Gendering Bathroom Situation.” I was contacted by the author of the post and the students being SJB’d and confirmed the story. The complete text of that tumblr post is reproduced below.
So, a few weeks back, there was an outpouring of trans* activism. I mean that like when you put a lot of pressure on a water balloon and then the water bursts out of a hole. Yeah, the water made the hole and hurt the balloon. But the water only gushed out because of all the fucking pressure being put on the damn balloon. (and why was this water being trapped in a balloon in the first place?)
My point being, yes, fed up trans* students and angry cis allies took down and broke the single-gender bathroom signs around campus. They did this because they were sick of the system that marginalizes and endangers trans* folk. This move was pretty controversial on campus. But that’s not what I want to write about today.
Today, the issue at stake is the University’s response. Now, students taking part in this action knew they were doing something illegal/against the rules/risky. As such they have remained anonymous when participating in media coverage and the action was instigated under the anonymous Facebook account PissedOff Trans* People. They provided materials on Facebook for marking bathrooms as all-gendered. These materials have been downloaded 200 times, which gives you an idea of the scale of interest and possibly participation in this action.
I’m sitting right now in 41 Wyllys Room 112 for the Open Forum on Gender-Neutral Bathrooms and Trans* Activism. This forum is co-hosted by WesDEF, Wesleying, Open House, and QueerWes, and will be facilitated by WesDEF – specifically, Mariama Eversley ’14 and Leah Bakely ’16.
This will be a safe space for people to discuss their thoughts, concerns, and opinions of the recent trans* activism that has been de-gendering bathrooms in the last few weeks. Given that this is a safe space, Wesleying (in this case, hermes, sneeze, and I) will not be recording the names of participants. This will also be a serious liveblog. We will be providing an as-close-to-verbatim-as-possible record of what is said in the forum without critiquing opinions with which we may not agree.
We’ll be going over definitions and vocabulary surrounding trans* issues at the start of the forum, but check out TransWhat if you’re interested in a short glossary of relevant terms and information on what it means to be trans*. If you’re bewildered by the fact that this discussion forum exists or are wondering why all the bathroom signs have vanished recently, read my post “All Gender Bathrooms Now” – Pissed Off Trans* People on the DIY Gender-Neutralizing of Wesleyan’s Bathrooms. I’ll also be putting a few more features related to this up in the next few days.
Click past the jump for the liveblog.
BZOD UPDATE, 11/5/13, 4:09 PM: We’ve officially moved this across the hall from 41 Wyllys Room 115 to 41 Wyllys Room 112 due to space concerns.
On Tuesday, November 5 at 7:00 PM in 41 Wyllys Room 112, WesDEF (Wesleyan Diversity Education Facilitators), Wesleying, Open House, and QueerWes, will be hosting an an open forum to discuss people’s thoughts, concerns, and opinions about the recent trans* activism on campus – including, but not limited to the gender-neutralizing of bathrooms. The forum will be facilitated by WesDEF and will include vegan snacks.
Wesleying will be doing a liveblog of the discussion (which will, of course, not log names of anyone speaking). Anyone who has opinions about gender-neutral bathrooms or trans* activism, or wants to better understand trans* issues, should attend. We’d love to have as many sides as possible represented in the discussion.
The sign that has recently been appearing on bathroom doors across campus. Sign courtesy of MyDoorSign.com, which has been making, marketing, and donating these awesome inclusive bathroom signs
If you have been on campus recently, you have likely seen the above sign. In the last week or so, the plastic or wooden bathroom signs that normally read “Men” or “Women” have been torn down and replaced with paper signs like the one above. In many cases, these paper signs were accompanied by a manifesto titled “Desegregate Wesleyan Bathrooms,” which explains the logic behind the replacing of the bathroom signs. Unfortunately, the manifesto was not posted with every gender-neutral sign, and has frequently been torn down when the bathrooms were re-gendered. For those who are confused about why people have started gender-neutralizing the bathrooms, the text of the manifesto is reproduced below:
We demand that Wesleyan University stop segregating bathrooms along gender lines and provide all-gender bathrooms in all buildings in the University.
We believe gender-segregated bathrooms create uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situations for trans and gender-variant presenting people.
We believe gender-segregated bathrooms reinforce trans* invisibility at Wesleyan.
We resent statements by Wesleyan Administration that all-gender bathrooms are widely available on this campus, when they are in fact often difficult to find or unmarked, in inconvenient locations, or simply not available.
We acknowledge that some people, particularly women, may feel unsafe in bathrooms that are no longer gender-segregated. We invite further discussion about this issue, but are currently not aware of any studies suggesting women are more likely to experience harassment or harm in all-gender bathrooms. (Citation: Rothblatt, Martine Aliana. The Apartheid of Sex: A Manifesto on the Freedom of Gender. New York: Crown, 1995.)
We believe it is not the duty of trans* or gender-variant students to self-advocate for all- gender bathrooms on their hall/place of residence, and that residential bathrooms should be all-gender.
We want to remind white and documented people and people with class privilege that those most likely to experience violence and increased surveillance from gender- segregated bathrooms are people of color, poor people, and undocumented people.
Celebrate the start of the semester by pooping somewhere new.
Image obtained from http://www.mydoorsign.com/
Most of us don’t think twice about the bathrooms on campus—we generally use whichever ones are most convenient at the time—but is there anyone else out there like me who has walked in and walked out of a bathroom entirely, simply because you just didn’t feel comfortable?
If so, you’re in the right place. We all have those moments in unfamiliar parts of campus when we don’t know where to turn (or sit), and that’s why I’m here for you, and so is the rest of the staff at Wesleying. Finding the perfect bathroom is a joyous moment in a person’s life, and we want you to have your moment, your time, to sit back, relax and use the bathroom in peace. We want you to realize that the world is bigger than your dorm, building or house—and since we can’t guarantee you’ll find a bathroom with this guy in it, we’ve done some exploring for you.
Here is a comprehensive list of what we’d like to think (as self-proclaimed bathroom enthusiasts) are Wesleyan’s best bathrooms. In no particular order: