Have strong opinions on the tobacco resolution? Get ready to get polled.
Smokers, rejoice: Judgment Day hath been delayed. After much ado, ballyhoo, and brouhaha over a proposed resolution to ban the sale of tobacco on University-owned properties (read: Neon), the Wesleyan Student Assembly decided on Sunday night to table the sequester cuts vote until polling the student body. No, this doesn’t mean the resolution is going away for good. It does mean that it’s postponed.
“We tabled the vote in order to poll the student body and engage more with the owners of Neon Deli,” explained Student Affairs Committee Chair Nicole Updegrove ’14, who first proposed the resolution, via email. “Many of us, myself included, weren’t willing to vote without more opinions from the student body.”
The proposal quickly sparked some loud, impassioned, and occasionally bizarre arguments in the Wesleying comments section (my favorite one notes that “addiction is the gift that keeps on giving—if we start selling cigarettes at Weshop, Pi, and Usdan, it’ll be a big help to the University’s endowment”), and Updegrove has been quick to respond to some of the angrier voices.
Greetings from PAC 001, where an open forum on the proposed bookstore relocation is about to begin. Seats are filling up quickly; so far I spot about 20 or 30 community members, a suited Centerplan representative, a small handful of students, and one or two professors (including Susanne Fusso, famed Professor of Russian Language and Literature). The average age in this room is probably well over 35, which is interesting. Where are all the students? (Update: As of the start of the forum, many more students have streamed in, and there are probably well over 130 people here, of pretty much all ages.)
Community members both inside and outside of Wesleyan’s campus have weighed in on the proposed development. Many, like Wesleyan alum and parent Jen Alexander ’88 and Red & Black owner Ed Thorndike ’89, are against it. Mayor Drew, on the other hand, is all for it, mostly on the grounds of job creation. If recent comments are any indication, there will be some strong views raised at this forum.
Wesleying’s liveblog coverage begins past the jump.
Good ol’ Wesleyan was crowned Most Vegan-Friendly College in the United States by Peta2, beating out 32 other “small U.S. schools” for the prize. Oberlin finished second and Warren Wilson College snatched up third in the competition. On the “big U.S. schools” side, UC-San Diego took home the gold as Cornell and University of North Texas nabbed silver and bronze respectively.
The description on Peta2 about Wesleyan’s vegan-friendliness reads as follows:
When a school has chefs who specialize in vegan desserts on staff, you know you’re in for a treat. Last year’s edible Halloween vegan display was a “graveyard” with tombstones of vegan chocolate and hills of vegan cake. This year’s theme, Gotham City, even included a vegan chocolate-molded Batmobile! If you’re not in the mood for sweets, have no fear. With innovative entrées, including vegan fettuccine Alfredo, Aloo gobi, and Mongolian seitan with wild rice salad and cranberries, students can always find a cruelty-free meal anywhere on campus.
However, Wes dining’s winning streak has not been without its disputes. Controversy struck Wesleyan’s 2009 win for most vegetarian-friendly college when several students had issues with voting practice and procedures. First, people asked how we can compare ourselves to other schools in terms of ‘vegan-ness’. Most of us haven’t eaten the vegan dining options at our own university let alone other universities. The question of who actually eats vegan food at Wesleyan was also brought into question (hint: many people who frequent the vegan section in the ‘Dan aren’t vegan). In addition, there were some suspicious bribery tactics from the dining staff back in ’09 (apparently they gave out free candy to anyone who voted for Wes, regardless of if they were vegan eaters or not).
Despite what seems to be a burgeoning black market for Wesleyan in Peta2 contests, kudos guys, we’re the most vegan-happy.
Note: This postis the first in a series of posts exploringthe argument in favor of scaling back need-blind. Agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments, and keep it civil.
If you go to Google and type in “need blind,” what shows up (in order) is a Wikipedia entry, a fact or fiction essay from College Insider, and an article about Wesleyan. You would have to be living under a rock not to know about the fiery controversy that started during the end of the spring semester last year. Whether it be banners hung at graduation or chalk marks lining the sidewalks, students are speaking up, and for the most part, they are not happy.
It seems, at first glance, that removing the need-blind blanket on Wesleyan admissions is an elitist leap made to help improve Wes endowment. Increasing endowment has been one of President Roth’s goals for a while, and it’s clear why. And what better way to increase endowment than admitting upper-class students whose parents can afford to make private donations? If Wesleyan can see exactly how much a student needs in aid when applying, you can imagine the ease with which they’d be able admit the rich and ignore the poor. When looking through this narrow lens, removing need-blind admissions is nothing short of an evil scheme to get us on track with the other “little Ivies.”
But the desire for huge stacks of money is not totally fiendish. After all, the cost of running a school is great when you take into account all the expenses that factor into it.
Let’s get this right off the bat: this post is about one particular aspect of the aftermath of the Usdan flyer controversy.
You might have heard of it by now, or maybe even seen it. Yesterday, NBC Connecticut vans were spotted on campus grounds, and we later got word that reporters were trying to squeeze soundbites out of Wes students. Later that night, they ran a news story about the Usdan flyer incident. It was short, it was a little strange, and most disturbingly, it was considerably misleading. Then came the newest update: Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, is denouncing Wesleyan from across the country and calling on the university to apologize for the incident.
There has been much heated debate behind the scenes here in the cyberspace office of Wesleying ever since last Friday’s incident. We as a self-accountable collective of bloggers had to confront very difficult questions: what is our role in the student body? What are our duties? How far can we go with moderation and censorship? How do we balance between protection and preservation of the discussion? Most of these questions went unanswered, simply because they are so grey and difficult.
But when the NBC Connecticut story ran last night, it was pretty clear what needed to be done. Bad reporting on what happened here at Wes needs to be covered, and the viewing lens of the story has to re-calibrated for the benefit of the community. This is precisely what this post will try to do. Now, I just want to make clear that this is an insanely difficult and sensitive thing to write about. And I know I’m probably going to get slammed in the face one way or another for doing something or for not doing another thing or whatever, but fuck it—I’m doing it. This is something of a long piece, so hit me up after the jump.
Oh, and one more thing: if you’re on the NBC Connecticut staff, hello! This is for you. Really.
Here’s something of a nice end to an otherwise thoroughly frustrating story.
Back in mid-April, we found out through the Argus (and through the mass verbalization of concerned parties, probably) that the SBC prematurely ran out of funds for the semester—by late March/early April, it seems. This meant that student publications (and whatever student groups had operations late in the semester) were completely denied funding through almost no fault of their own. As the Argus article reported,
Members of publications cited the fact that the SBC requires groups to specify exact amounts when applying for funding, while the exact amounts of money that publications will need will remain uncertain until the end of the semester.
Flash forward to today, and the SBC seems to have managed to come up with the cash late in the fourth quarter to give student publications the funding they need. They did this through a “reassumption” process—which basically involves pressing student groups who have received funding earlier in the semester to cough up leftover cash. (The SBC was able to reclaim about $4,000, which to me is somewhat unsurprising, as it’s pretty well-known that excessive funding requests—and other forms of corruption—is fairly prevalent in the SBC-student group interaction. See relevant awkward bits in the WSA Prez Debate.)
As one would expect, the SBC came out of this entire episode pinned beneath a dense hail of criticism. (But then again, they’re always under fire). In response to this, Cameron Couch ’13, the SBC chair, posted an open letter on the WSA website to publicly acknowledge the criticism, clarify the narrative of the problem, and suggest in which areas improvement can be cultivated. Choice morsels and key points after the jump.
If last week’s epic Matisyahu/Chiddy Bang meltdown demonstrated anything, it’s that students on all sides of the debate have been disillusioned with the inner-workings of concert-booking at Wesleyan. This forum offers a constructive venue for discussion and change:
Booked a show at Wes?
Want to book a show here?
Have ideas for how the concert committee process could be better?
Want to discuss by-law amendments?
Just want to complain?
Grab your lunch and come to this meeting on Thursday 4/14 at noon in Fayerweather 106. We will draft amendments to the concert committee’s by-laws (posted on the home page of this Facebook group) to propose to the WSA on Friday and Sunday. The goal is to have a clear and fair process that better corresponds with the realities of Wesleyan’s concert-bookers and music fans.
There will be a lecture tomorrow night by Benny Morris. Here’s the official blurb about it courtesy of Sam Bernhardt ’10:
Professor Benny Morris: “The First Arab-Israeli War” – Benny Morris is one of Israel’s most distinguished, yet also one of its most controversial historians. His groundbreaking books deal with the sixty years of conflicted relations between Israeli’s and Arabs. Professor Morris will be discussing his new book on the first Arab-Israeli War of 1948. A reception will follow the presentation.
Sponsored by the Jewish and Israeli Studies Certificate Program. Contact Jeremy Zwelling (jzwelling@wes) for more info.
When: Monday, February 02, 2009 at 8:00 PM Where: Usdan University Center 108
The lecture promises to be interesting at the least and horribly controversial at most. Read more about Benny Morris on Wikipedia.