Many of you non-freshmen (with one possible exception) may remember last year’s cataclysm that closed school and is now referred to affectionately as the “Snowpocalypse.” It was a terrifying time, filled with stories of hardship and the need to adapt to post-apocalyptic living standards. Yet even during the worst days of of isolation there were still small, heartwarming moments of compassion that allowed us to make it through the trying times.
Just in time for Halloween and the first anniversary of that fateful storm, a new terror looms on the horizon. This is not a drill, not a conspiracy, not a troll. The Frankenstorm is coming. It is currently predicted to hit the day before Halloween (Tuesday), and there’s already speculation about potential blackouts affecting ballot casting in areas where early voting is occurring.
The New York Times reports that Hurricane “Sandy” has the potential to become a “perfect storm,” the likes of which we haven’t seen since 1991. CBS News provides a great video breakdown of just why we’re so totally fucked (again).
Upon hearing about some questionable labor rights issues raised during the blackout, a group of concerned students organized to address both immediate and long-term, systemic issues highlighted by this emergency. They discussed these issues (lack of childcare for staff, lack of transparency in addressing the emergency, etc.) during the blackout amongst themselves and with staff. They then issued a Call to Action addressed to the Wesleyan administration, linked here. I was a part of this student initiative, and yesterday a response was sent from John Meerts, VP of Finance and Administration, to the “Call to Action” (read the full letter by clicking the image below). As a student, this response has left me feeling disrespected and disappointed.
Two weeks after the deadline, conveniently timed during Reading Week when students are already overwhelmed and soon-to-be-gone for over a month, an email response was sent to Marj Dodson ’13 and Virgil Taylor ’15 displaying the administration’s knack at saying very little in a whole page of words. While I appreciate that a response was sent, I wanted to share this letter with you “students,” to whom it is addressed, along with a few of my thoughts. As a member of this community, I encourage you to take up John Meerts on his offer to receive “constructive suggestions” by emailing him directly. Conversely, as has been stated on multiple student listservs, you can have a voice in a collaborative response by emailing octoberblackout(at)gmail(dot)com.
My thoughts and questions:
- The 4 “calls to action” were not directly addressed.
- Who was and wasn’t included in the meeting between “staff groups” and why isn’t that even addressed in this letter?
- What were the results of this meeting? What plan exists now that didn’t exist before? How can members of the Wesleyan community access this “robust” plan?
- Why is the administration skirting around the issues? In such a small, inclusive community, why must interested parties (including students) be kept in the dark when they are interested in contributing to the dialogue?
- The Wesleyan administration is not an inherently evil organization, and I would love it if students and the administration had a more mutually respectful relationship. The administration’s decisions are supposed to reflect the needs of the community, so why haven’t a diverse range of voices with a stake in the process been included in a substantial way?
Upon hearing about some questionable labor rights issues raised during the blackout, a group of concerned students organized to address both immediate and long-term, systemic issues highlighted by this emergency. You may have heard about some of the fruits of these working groups, including the student-run food drive and childcare.
We also wrote up a Call to Action, which you can read after the break, that highlights what we see as the main issues and the first steps that we hope the administration will take to fix the gaping holes in the fair treatment of hourly staff, especially during times of crisis. Please click HERE to sign the petition
(if you haven’t already).
Please forward widely and sign by Monday (tomorrow)
! Click here
to look at the process that led to the Call to Action. Thank you!
An email sent out by Fran Koerting of Residential Life at 5:14 PM tonight (one of the few emails that the administration has sent back regarding the restoration of power) has revealed that power has been restored to most of campus. The email indicates that the “outages have been reduced” to only a few unlucky residences:
- 142, 146, 168, 170, 182, and 192 Cross Street [EDIT, 2:16 AM, 11/4/11: According to the comments section, 146 Cross now has power!]
- Knowles Avenue
- 151 Church (International House)
The following residences have “partial power” – which can mean a variety of things, including outlets working while overhead lights don’t, lack of heat, some rooms out of power, etc.:
- 202 Wash (Full/Writing House)
- 230 Wash (Lighthouse/Interfaith House)
- 240 Wash (La Casa)
While the email may be disappointing for residences of these places, it means a return of normalcy for students living on High Street (including DKE, Beta, Psi U, Eclectic, and Alpha Delt) and a return home for those evicted by the power outage
and relocated to “alternative housing.”
This email does not address whether 156 High now has hot water or heat; rumor has it that their boiler malfunctioned (or exploded, depending on who you ask) sometime around Monday. [EDIT, 2:16 AM, 11/4/11:
156 High has both heat and hot water.]
At any rate, condolences to those who do not have power; we hope you’ll get it back as soon as possible. Read past the jump to see the full text of the email from ResLife:
Shuttles will continue to run today to take volunteers to the Middletown Shelter at the nearby Middletown High School.
The shuttle will leave Usdan at the following times (same as yesterday):
4 pm, 5 pm, 6 pm, 7 pm, 8 pm, 9 pm
Shuttles will leave the shelter and head back to Wesleyan at the following times: 5:15 pm, 6:15 pm, 7:15 pm, 8:15 pm, 9:15 pm, 10:30 pm.
If you have any questions contact Zachary Malter ’13 (zmalter(at)wesleyan(dot)edu, 914-420-8827) or Frank Kuan (860-550-5580).
UPDATE 7:40PM: The shuttles are no longer running because power has returned to much of town.
“If you think we’re crazy over the last few days, just keep in mind that we’ve kind of been homeless.”
As classes resume, as many (though far from all) campus houses light up with full power, and as we return to what President Roth calls “the normal rhythms of our educational mission,” one group of increasingly manic refugees continues bearing the aftereffects of the storm, living on the boundaries of sanity and shelter in the Clark Lounge.
They are the residents of 200 Church—the lively group of freshmen forcefully evacuated from their house on Tuesday afternoon—and they’ve been occupying the dorm lounge ever since, sleeping on couches and floors, 10 or 15 to a room. “I used to think it was great that all of my friends are in 200 Church, living in my house,” one resident told me. “But now it’s a problem. Because I have nowhere else to go.”
BZOD and I stopped by Camp TwoHo last night during our late-night drive through campus to investigate where power has (and has not) been restored. It’s a surreal scene. Students are red-eyed, exhausted, trying to remain positive. Clothes, laptops, food wrappers, banana peels are strewn indiscriminately throughout the living space. Conversations descend into manic laughter. Bitterness pervades the room as the surrounding campus returns to normalcy. So this is what “alternative housing” looks like. When will these frosh get to go home?
Ladies and gentlemen, the moment we’ve all been waiting for is here. No, it’s not that your dorm has power again. WesWings is back. Although they haven’t explicitly said “dinner tonight” yet, it looks like that’s going to happen. The WesWings Facebook page has provided a continuous stream of humor since the blackout began, including:
- “we are now using “CL&P” to replace swear words. Example: That CL&P totally cut me off at the intersection.”
- “I fear this blackout may last longer than Kim’s marriage. “
- “We are still hopeful that we get it back overnight so that we might return to the normal rhythms of our food service mission” (compared to President Roth’s “By resuming classes we aim to return to the normal rhythms of our educational mission”)
Hey all! Before this blackout madness, I posted about a submission drive for Historical Narratives scheduled to end on October 30. This deadline has been extended to November 7 in light of difficult blackout-related circumstances. Here is the text from the initial post, for any who are interested:
Historical Narratives is looking for your best work to be edited and published in a sleek bound academic journal.
Submissions must be original papers of 5-30 pages that, broadly defined, relate to history. We encourage papers from courses outside the department. It does not need to be polished, and will be read anonymously by our editorial staff. If accepted, the paper will go through an extensive editing process and will be printed in the spring.
If you are feeling doubtful about yourself, just remember our motto: “If a professor liked it, we will too.”
Submit via attachment to hnarratives[at]gmail[dot]com by Monday, November 7 or contact Charlotte Robertson ’12 at crobertson[at]wesleyan[dot]edu with questions.
Hey folks! Lights are popping on all around campus, including the peripheries. As of now, I know for certain that Buddhist House, Fountain, and Pine are lit up – and have heard that a number of other locations also have power. This post will be updated with specific locations as more news rolls in.
BZOD EDIT, 5:03 AM: By the way, if you didn’t see it yet, Zach added a gallery of photos from our adventures around campus. Check it out!
BZOD EDIT, 11:31 PM: Zach and I have finished our drive, and we’re currently interviewing refugees from 200 Church. Here’s the full update on power though, past the jump: