Tag Archives: bennet

Unofficial Orientation Series 2018: Dorm Living FAQ

Holly and Xue wrote the first version of this post in 2006 and it has been reposted every year since then. Dorm Life never changes much. Unless Fauver becomes Bennett (wow this joke is old). [Or unless Clark goes on fire a few times]

Pictured: A bright-eyed young freshman shakes his groove thang, eager to impress his lofty peers. Taken by Rachel Pincus '13.

Pictured: A bright-eyed young freshman shakes his groove thang, eager to impress his lofty peers. Taken by Rachel Pincus ’13.

This is part of our 2018 Unofficial Orientation Series. A quick reminder that you can check out the welcome post here and past years’ series here.

Dear frosh of 2022,

As you are probably fretting about your first day of college, a sense of melancholy (or jittery excitement and increased WesAdmits activity, if you hated high school) has creeped up on you. Are you making lists of toiletries and getting boxes from Staples to pack your life into? Wondering how much action your soon-to-be bed has gotten in the past? A lot, probably.

(Melisa’s note: Our cheery freshmen selves a wee [two years] ago ventured onto the wilderness of Waste Not, and my friends ended up purchasing a futon for very cheap. We ended up *probably* spending the same amount on febreeze that we ended up dousing said futon in. This is to say that even your futon isn’t safe from the wonders of college sexuality.)

But don’t be too frazzled. Before you finish your housing form, get your roommate(s) assignment, and make dorm Facebook groups that no one will check after October, Wesleying‘s here to answer your 40ish most pressing questions related to waking-up-and-instantly-having-200-or-so-of-your-peers-to-hang-out-with.

The pertinent FAQ doesn’t change much from year to year, so we tend to update/repost much of the original guide by Norse Goddess Holly-and-Xue ’08 (cuz it’s still damn good and we’re still damn lazy) every year. This re-vamped guide is up to date and full of Wesleyan lingo:

Unofficial Orientation 2016: Dorm Living FAQ

Holly and Xue wrote the first version of this post in 2006 and it has been reposted every year since then.  Dorm Life never changes much. Unless Fauver becomes Bennett.

Pictured: A bright-eyed young freshman shakes his groove thang, eager to impress his lofty peers. Taken by Rachel Pincus '13.

Pictured: A bright-eyed young freshman shakes his groove thang, eager to impress his lofty peers. Taken by Rachel Pincus ’13.

Dear frosh of 2020,

As you are probably fretting about your first day of college, a sense of melancholy (or jittery excitement and increased WesAdmits activity, if you hated high school) has creeped up on you. Are you making lists of toiletries and getting boxes from Staples to pack your life into? Wondering how much action your soon-to-be bed has gotten in the past? A lot, probably.

But don’t be too frazzled. Before you finish your housing form, get your roommate(s) assignment, and make dorm Facebook groups that no one will check after October, Wesleying‘s here to answer your 40ish most pressing questions related to waking-up-and-instantly-having-200-or-so-of-your-peers-to-hang-out-with.

The pertinent FAQ doesn’t change much from year to year, so we tend to update/repost much of the original guide by Norse Goddess Holly-and-Xue ’08 (cuz it’s still damn good and we’re still damn lazy) every year. This re-vamped guide is up to date and full of Wesleyan lingo:

A Decade Without Chalking, Part Five: An Interview with Dean Mike Whaley

Follwing a portraiture chalk project and guest post by Ross Levin ’15, our five-part retrospective on the Chalking Moratorium wraps up.

One Friday morning in October, I trekked across campus to Dean Mike Whaley’s office to talk about a chalking controversy that took place about a decade ago. The previous weekend, two students had gotten into a physical confrontation with President Roth for chalking on Wyllys Avenue during Homecoming. A few hours after chatting with Dean Whaley, I took part in a massive legal chalk-in on Church Street sidewalks as midday traffic cruised by. Dave Meyer strolled by and tried to confiscate the chalk. We explained that the sidewalks are Middletown property. He continued on his way.

Institutional history has a funny way of working in cycles, and Dean Whaley, who arrived at Wes in 1997 and was Dean of Students in 2002, probably knows this better than anyone. Surprisingly, Whaley told me that he loved the queer chalking when he first arrived at Wesleyan. He also mentioned that President Bennet specifically reached out to him, an openly queer administrator, for advice. But unlike the former students I interviewed, Whaley framed the conflict primarily in terms of a hostile work environment. “The problem was, OK, you don’t like the ban, we get that,” Whaley said of the protestors. “But how do we resolve this hostile work environment?”

Was the answer to adopt some vague notion of “community standards”? Or geographic boundaries for chalking? Or an end to the anonymity? Or ought the Wesleyan community realize, as Professor Potter argued, that “no one has the right not to be offended”?

A Decade Without Chalking, Part Four: An Interview with Nicholas Myers ’05

“I’m not sure I would have been able to have that kind of rapid acceptance of myself as I did if I hadn’t had that community-driven chalking experience.”

Shortly after posting the most recent installment in Wesleying’s multipart retrospective on the Chalking Moratorium, an interview with Claire Potter, I read an essay by Dan Abromowitz, a friend of a friend (dare I say friend?) who goes to Princeton. Abromowitz’s piece is titled “Physical Princeton,” and reading it I realized more vividly than before that campus debates over free speech, public space, and personal expression on university property extend well beyond Wesleyan’s borders.

Not that there’s ever been much of a chalking culture at Princeton. Abromowitz can only recall a few instances, but they stuck with him long after their whitewashing. The practice has been labelled vandalism. “But chalk isn’t vandalism,” Abromowitz responds. “It’s the very mildest attempt at staking out a bit of temporal space for yourself outside of closed doors at an institution that cannot survive as such if you pass through it like anything more violent than a breeze. A university that rejects even that gesture is one that would very much like for its students not to really exist, one that operates essentially mechanically, as a series of abstract investments and returns, rather than a space unto itself.”

I reference this essay here because Dan Abromowitz told me to it fits well, I think, with the perspective of Nicholas Myers ’05, a Wesleyan alum who was closely involved in chalking with the queer community in 2002. Myers recalls chalking as a formative and empowering part of his queer identity. It was also a means of reclaiming space, carving a niche for himself on a campus where “queer visibility” was not an impossibility. Chalking the night before National Coming Out Day was “‘one of the most liberating experiences I have ever had,” Myers told the New York Times in 2002. “I’m not sure I would have been able to have that kind of rapid acceptance of myself as I did if I hadn’t had that community-driven chalking experience,” Myers told me over the phone ten years later.

Bennet, Shumlin and Hickenlooper Moving Up in the Political Ranks

Left to right: Michael Bennet ’87, John Hickenlooper ’74, Peter Shumlin ’79

Some Wesleyan alumni are seriously making their ways up in the political ranks, my friends: all three of our school’s top current politicians have been nominated to lead the two official campaign organizations of the Democratic Party. Senator Michael Bennet ’87 will be the new Chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), and Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin ’79 will lead the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper ’74 as the DGA vice-chair!

The news broke earlier this afternoon and evening: Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced Bennet’s new position at today’s Democratic Caucus luncheon, stating that “Michael is one of the brightest rising stars in the Democratic Party, and he is exactly the right person to lead our efforts over the next two years.” Later on in the evening, it was announced that the DGA had elected Shumlin as their new chair, along with Hickenlooper as his side-kick. Quite the day for Wesleyan politicians indeed!

For some fun facts about Wesleyan students correcting political journalists on their research skills, look after the jump.

A Decade Without Chalking, Part Three: An Interview with Claire Potter

The Tenured Radical reflects on Bennet’s moratorium, student activism, and the meaning of chalking today.

Wesleying’s multi-part retrospective on the 2002 chalking moratorium continues with a faculty perspective: a conversation with Claire Potter, Professor of History and American Studies at Wesleyan from 1991–2011.

In the wake of President Bennet’s moratorium announcement in October, 2002, Wesleyan faculty from across the disciplines spoke up to register their views. Some authored a Wespeak supporting the ban, arguing that the “free exchange of ideas . . . is not facilitated by the hostile, racist, or sexually explicit slogans” reportedly contained in chalkings. Others expressed dissent, culminating in a 44-8 faculty vote asking Bennet to overturn the moratorium. Perhaps no faculty member, though, argued for free speech as forcefully and passionately as Professor Potter.

According to the Argus, just before the vote, she spoke up at a faculty meeting on chalking:

Chair of the American Studies Program Claire Potter also spoke at length to the faculty. She cited the Constitution and Bill of Rights as upholding free speech and said the 1st Amendment of the Constitution also holds true for obscenity.

“No one has the right not to be offended,” Potter said. [ . . . ] Addressing some of the comments from faculty members who viewed the chalkings as an inept way of expressing themselves and talk of helping students better express their views, Potter asserted that it is not the faculty’s place to interfere with student expression.

A Decade Without Chalking, Part Two: An Interview with Matthew M ’05

“The ultimate goal wasn’t to be able to chalk. It was to exhibit control over their environment.”

Ten years ago this autumn, President Doug Bennet ’59 sent out an all-campus email and banned chalking at Wesleyan for good. When I set out to mark the tenth anniversary of that Moratorium, I only meant to reflect on a heated and surreal episode in Wesleyan’s activist history and share the story behind a once-treasured campus medium that stills pops up every now and then.

Then this happened. And this. And this. And this Homecoming banner drop (which bears stark similarity to events described in the following interview). All of a sudden, chalking was in the news again.

Wait. What?

History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme. What follows is an unexpectedly timely conversation with our first interview subject, Matthew M. ’05, who not only passionately fought the chalking moratorium, but went so far as to hack into President Bennet’s email and inform the Wesleyan community that the Moratorium was over. (Spoiler: It wasn’t.) According to Matthew, the chalking controversy wasn’t just about chalk. It was about widespread discontent over “fewer and fewer outlets for organized student autonomy”—a sentiment that brewed well past the fall of ’02 and culminated with over 250 students trapping President Bennet in his office in December, 2004. (No, really. Ask your older sister about it!)

The full interview is past the jump (it’s a long one), and the introductory post is here. Since he openly admits to perpetrating email fraud, Matthew asked me to withhold his last name. Our chalking Westrospective will continue later this week with another interview reflection.

Tea Party with Imaginary Friends

Josh Katz ’16 sent us a real event submission about imaginary friends:

I will be hosting a 24 hour tea party with all my imaginary friends. Everyone should come and bring their imaginary friends. Conversation may get heavy so please no jokesters or wise guys.

Date: Saturday, October 27 – Sunday, October 28
Time: 1 pm – 1 pm
Place: Bennet Lounge
Cost: $15

WESTROSPECTIVE: A Decade Without Chalking, Part One

Ten years ago, Doug Bennet ’59 declared war on chalk. In a multi-post series, we’re looking back.

On October 3, 2002, President Douglas J. Bennet ’59 sent an email to Wesleyan students, faculty, and administrators. It contained 335 words, but the message was brief: the chalking on campus, much of it sexually explicit, had gone too far.

The practice “undermines our sense of community and impedes substantive dialogue,” Bennet wrote. Though storied, “it is not a lofty tradition.” Plus, “there are more constructive ways to communicate.” With that, the president was declaring a moratorium on the practice. Temporary, of course. But indefinite.

A decade later, chalking remains banned.

With that single memo, Bennet set in motion the controversy that would rock campus that autumn, ten years ago this month. The chalking moratorium enraged queer groups, divided faculty (spoiler: they voted 44–8 against the ban), and inspired flurries of activism all over campus. (There was even a protest at a closed Board of Trustees meeting, recounted here and here. Its details are eerily similar to the occupation last month.) It spawned more Wespeaks than probably any single controversy while I’ve been at Wes, including need-blind. And it captured the imagination of the New York Times, who sent a journalist to cover the drama in a generous feature piece.

From the Argives: Doug Bennet ’59 Becomes Wesleyan’s Fifteenth President

Ah, 1995: the year of the OJ Simpson trial, the fourth busiest hurricane season on record, and my 1st birthday (yeah, I’m a youngster, but I rocked those 90s children’s overalls so hard). More importantly, this week in 1995, Douglas Bennet ’59 was inaugurated as Wesleyan’s fifteenth president.

Bennet is more than just the new name of Fauver (or if you’re anyone who isn’t the class of 2016, the name of the dorm is in fact still Fauver). He has been involved with Wesleyan as a student, a parent, an alumnus, and an administrator.

During his time in the Oval Not-Very-Oval Office, Bennet had his share of ups and downs. Though he greatly improved several important aspects of university life (like nearly doubling the size of the endowment and overseeing the construction of many buildings on campus), he was criticized by some students for the lack of student involvement in Wesleyan’s decision-making process. Eventually, student dissatisfaction with Bennet culminated in a 250-person sit-in outside his office in 2004.