A NYT photo of a Stanford party from outside.
Wesleyan is no stranger to out-of-touch New York Times journalists writing about ~campus life~. In March of 2015, Tatiana Schlossberg (JFK’s granddaughter) wrote an absurd piece about trying to investigate the drug scene at Wesleyan. In 2003, now-fancy-and-serious NYT Correspondent Neil MacFarquhar wrote a piece on WestCo, “The Naked Dorm,” about “how one well-choreographed rite of passage from high school to college life went unexpectedly awry.” In 2007, bizarrely, they also published a fashion shoot of Wesleyan students wearing designer clothes.
While Wesleyan has mostly avoided coverage this fall (though MRoth hasn’t), today the NYT is at it again, with a simultaneously laughable and unsettling piece about responses to college drinking and sexual assault across the country. While both alcohol consumption and especially sexual violence on campuses (and elsewhere) is indeed a big deal, journalistic coverage of these phenomena tends to be stilted and ridiculous. Much can probably be said about this coverage, and how it fits in to broader patterns of cultural representations of college students. For now, though, I’ll let the article speak for itself, after the jump:
Student activism has led Stanford‘s Board of Trustees to vote to stop investing in coal-mining companies. This action is a significant step in the ever-growing fossil fuel divesment movement on campuses across the country.
In the growingly visible national conversation on sexual assault on college campuses, including a recently launched campaign by the White House to confront the issue, many local movements have been getting increasing attention.
The recent news that a Wesleyan student is suing Psi U due to rape allegations has sparked debate over the role of fraternities in sexual assault, and their presence on college campuses. Zach Schonfeld ’13 has written two in-depth articles on the matter. The first explores the history of various universities that have decided to get rid of their fraternities, and the follow-up wondering if Wesleyan will be the next to do the same.
A recent piece in The Nation explores the worrying fate of publically engaged academic intellectuals in the university system, reflecting on the recent firings of two Columbia professors.
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.
NOTE FROM BZOD: About a month and a half ago, we posted a piece by Cesar Chavez ’15 in which he translated a letter from the custodial staff to President Roth in which custodial staff decried their unreasonable working conditions. That letter was part 1 of 2. This letter, written by Cesar, focuses on the invisibility of poverty at Wesleyan. With that, Cesar’s post:
My name is Cesar Chavez, poor Hispanic male, age 19. I am writing this because as a poor student I can no longer stand and see how I, along with other students, am brought into a cycle of perpetual poverty by this university. It is unfair that this university has the audacity to state that there is no money for poor students and that it forces us to take loans in order to obtain a degree that in the future will become a worthless piece of paper. Likewise, I want to break the silence around the issue of poverty. By not talking about the issue, we allow this injustice to continue. I also would like to direct this critique to poor students currently at Wesleyan. If you are reading this, I encourage you to speak up. I know the frustration and anger that you are all probably experiencing. Do not keep it inside yourselves. Make your voices heard.
Our custodians are not the only ones who have been alienated, marginalized, and oppressed at Wesleyan. Poor student have suffered these ailments as well. I, along with many other students, am a victim of indentured servitude that comes in the form of student debt. I am a poor student going to this “elite” institution so that I can pursue my academic goals and be a member of a productive society. But in my opinion, many people aren’t going to college to learn anymore; people attend college so they can land a decent job. Likewise, we live in a time when a bachelor’s degree won’t get you too far. Because we live in a global capitalist economy dominated by a global plutocracy, students in the United States have to compete even harder for jobs with students from other countries like India and China. In order to stay competitive, one needs to obtain a Masters or PhD. As a result the college and school cultures have changed in recent years to accommodate the growing corporatization. More emphasis is placed on standardized tests, corporate careers, competition, and raising tuition. Now, few people seem to have desire to learn anymore. They simply want to walk in, pass tests, get the career networks they need, walk out and land a decent job. All of this has shown me that higher education is dying and makes me question, “Why am I even bothering with college?”
It was the grading scale he’d used since he started teaching. Professor Peter Fröhlich of Johns Hopkins University had a simple curve: the student with the highest grade on the test would receive an A, and all other grades would be adjusted accordingly. This approach, he says, is the “most predictable and consistent way” of comparing students’ progress to their peers’. Seems pretty okay, right?
During finals week of their first semester this year, Fröhlich’s students all unanimously agreed not to attend his final. The result? Everyone received a zero, which meant it was the highest grade, giving every student an A on the final.
In case you missed it, Wesleyan has missed yet another opportunity for ranking and recognition. We might not care about U.S. News or The Princeton Review or The Huffington Post, but this one hurts. Westboro Baptist Church skipped over ole Wesleyan to select Vassar College as its “Ivy League Whorehouse” (despite the fact that Vassar is not, in fact, a member of the Ivy League), and Vassar students are taking the honor with pride.
In a press release and their schedule, Westboro attacks not just Vassar but the whole of American academia. They hone in on Vassar’s especially inclusive culture:
WBC will picket Vassar College to warn the students, faculty, and alumni that the satanic policies of this nation, especially those of the colleges and universities, are causing God to pour His wrath out upon this nation. Doomed american academics fancy themselves to be smarter than God. They promote the fag agenda with all their might and mock the word of God and His messengers at every turn. Let’s see how that works out for them on the Judgment Day!
God Hates Vassar College for following the satanic Zeitgeist by professing the soul-damning lie that it is “OK to be gay.” That is what the men of Sodom and Gomorrah professed and we see how well that worked out for them. WBC will kindly warn everyone affiliated with Vassar College that the Lord that destroyed those ancient cities on the plain yet reigns. Repent or Perish!
How did Vassar students react? Since our friends over at Mads Vassar are no longer with us, let’s take our own look.
It’s that time of year again: you’re spending winter nights hunkered down in front of the Macbook and drafting cover letters for summer internships so you can work for free, gain valuable experience, and maybe someday sue the shit out of your employer. (You may even get an op-ed in the Times out of it!)
Trying to land an internship at a “boutique investment bank” on Wall Street? Take it from one admittedly average finance major at an admittedly average university who wrote a bizarrely frank, candid cover letter that apparently garnered him attention from “entire listservs of Wall Street bigshots.” Via Gawker:
“This might be the best cover letter I’ve ever received,” exclaimed one recipient. “THIS IS AWESOME,” capslocked another.
Others weren’t interested in wasting time on platitudes while someone else was snapping him up.
“No joke, I think we should consider this guy,” said one investment banker who was two forwards deep. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this guy gets at least a call from every bank out there.”
Do you desire…holistic training for the mind, body, and spirit? Do you excel…in the art of extreme creepiness? Are two heads…better than one? Are you…
Monsters University (MU), “famously located” near Monstropolis, appears to be quite the legit institution. As Chloe Murtagh ’15, who sent me the link, said, “Wow, their website is better than ours!” But in case you’re wondering: no, this is not a parody of Wesleyan specifically. The “Go MU!” and “Show Your Pride” boxes on the homepage above are anything but Wesleyan. A little deceptive, of course, since that athletic field is so reminiscent of Corwin Stadium.
The robust college website is a promotion for Monsters University, a prequel to everyone’s favorite Monsters, Inc. While the film was originally set to come out this November, it’s been pushed back all the way to June 21, 2013. In it, we are taken ten years back in the lives of protagonists Sulley and Mike, to when they first meet and are members of the same frat. In a classic tale of frenemiehood, they start off as rivals before becoming (as anyone who watched the first film knows) BFFs.
The similarities between the Wesleyan and Monsters University sites can be quite detailed, at least in structure. Take, for example, the “At a Glance” pages:
Shout-out to our friends at The ‘Cac for this mostly accurate graph of stress charted by academic year. Shout-out to fellow seniors, too: we’re apparently headed for a cliff. Click past the jump for junior and senior years.