Tag Archives: Courant

Police Investigating Reported Shooting on Flower St

According to the Hartford Courant, Middletown police are investigating a reported shooting about an hour ago on Flower Street, which lies a little less than a mile from High Rise, near Middlesex Hospital. Here’s all the info that’s being reported so far:

Police are investigating a shooting on Flower Street.

Officers responded shortly before 9 p.m. for a report of a person shot in the leg. The victim was taken to the hospital in a private car.

Police have crime scene tape blocking access to Flower Street.

The above map shows the location of the shooting in relation to campus (though there’s no indication that the incident was Wesleyan-related). We’ll update this post if more details roll in.

[Hartford Courant]

Here’s an image of the crime scene, via Fox CT:

News Coverage Round-up: Former Student Files Lawsuit

If you have no idea what I’m referring to then you might want to read this first. Or this. Or this, or this, or this. Also this. And maybe this, too.

Anyway, the point: this story has been getting a good deal of news coverage, all the way from Wesleying and The Argus, to the Hartford Courant, to HuffPost, Salon, and more. In addition to this post on the coverage, keep an eye out for a more substantive post from pyrotechnics this weekend. Round-up with brief sketches of coverage below:

BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed is the first source to challenge some of the contentions of the lawsuit, in particular the campus identity of Beta Theta Pi as a “Rape Factory.” BuzzFeed contacted several current and former students, including our very own Zach, to inquire after the use of this particular term around campus. Some commenters on our earlier piece questioned its use, as did many quoted in the BuzzFeed article, but most do note a stigma around Beta that isn’t exactly positive. All in all, BuzzFeed seems to have done some proper research before writing, taking the time to discuss Beta’s historical image, Beta’s relationship with the University, and some of the confusion surrounding events of the 2010-2011 academic year.

Wes Research Team Finds High Mercury Levels in CT River

If you see Johan Varekamp today, give him a high-five and/or fist bump of your choice: the Wesleyan earth science professor and geochemist just led a research team that discovered an estimated more than 500 pounds of mercury in Wethersfield Cove on the Connecticut River. And here you thought earth science professors just sat around classifying rocks all day. (That’s just all night.)

Also included in the research team were Wesleyan grad students Kristen Amore, Luis Rodriguez, and Julia Rowny.

Professor Varekamp presents his findings (working title: “Wethersfield Cove: A 300 Year Urban Pollution Record”) this week at the Geological Society of America’s annual meeting on Minneapolis. According to Courant coverage, Varekamp compares his research to CSI investigation:

Varekamp, a tall, bearded, genial man, likens his studies of sediments in Long Island Sound and the Connecticut River to crime scene investigation. It was his sleuthing 10 years ago that traced mercury pollution in the Housatonic River to historic Danbury hat factories. In Wethersfield Cove, the Wesleyan professor believes high mercury levels are also linked to past industry – in this case an experimental electrical generating station that used mercury vapor turbines to produce power.

WesAlum Recalls Rape

The Hartford Courant recently featured a piece in which Wesleyan alumnus Jaclyn Friedman ’93 remembers the story of when she was raped almost two decades ago.

It’s no wonder that rates of rape in the U.S. haven’t declined at all in the 18 years since I was assaulted at Wesleyan University, where I was a junior.

She laments that the school, at least then, did not act adequately and the risk it inherently imposes on members of the campus community.

When I brought campus charges, he pleaded “no contest” and was kicked out for a semester. He took some classes elsewhere, transferred the credits back when he was allowed to return — without any further penalty — and graduated with his class. I have no idea whether he had raped anyone before me, or if he raped again once he returned — but the school seemed perfectly content to take the risk that he might.

The full story and its gruesome details are available here.  In light of recent happenings, Friedman’s article could better educate the Wesleyan community about this type of act, especially on our campus.

Unlocked Makes Courant Feel Sexy; Is On Gawker

Unlocked coeditor Yannick Bindert ’10 contemplates Jacob D‘s body.

Perennially Wesbashing (More here. And here. And here.) Manhattan gossip blog Gawker, failing to do any sort of journalistic footwork on its own,* commented on an article in the Hartford Courant about Wesleyan’s (unofficial) sex magazine, Unlocked.

Obligatory copy-pasted excerpt here:

“We note that Wesleyan, the most annoying liberal arts school in the US, has launched a new sex magazine called…wait for it…Unlocked. Uh, unless this is like Wesleyan’s 267th different sex mag, may we just say about time, kids? Despite the fact that almost nothing in all of collegedom could be more tritely predictable than a sex magazine at Wesleyan (pictured: a photo shoot), this news was enough to warrant credulous coverage in the Hartford Courant

(Picture of Jacob D ’11 Via Gawker, Via the Courant)

Of course, there’s a variety of anti-wes comments for you to read. My personal favorite comment is one by Mount Prion:

 

Mount_Prion 2:13 PM

I assumed that picture was cover art for a new MGMT album before I read the article.

Of course, both articles fail to take into account that nobody really believes Unlocked is “edgy,” but rather, simply falls into the category of “another student magazine that focuses on things students like to do”… in this case, each other.

Hartford Courant: Wesleyan Sex Magazine Features Nudity
Hartford Courant: Behind-the-scenes Unlocked photo shoot
Gawker: People Still Care About College Sex Mags

*Of course, i’m not doing much better by simply posting a link to the blogpost itself. Pot, meet kettle.

Deja Vu: Anti-Wes-student comments from community re: Fountain

Possibly this discussion is tired by now, but an anonymous tipster points out the emerging comment discussion on the latest Courant article about the Fountain incident. Most of the comments seem to revolve around how we, as Wesleyan students, are over-entitled, privileged, whiny brats who only want to party and don’t deserve to be in college (or gain the status associated with having attended such a college). I quote the first comment by “Wesleyan Embarrassment” as an example:

It is utterly absurd that a “student leader” at any university would not understand that part of growing up and becoming a contributing adult is to be able to recognize unacceptable, childish, and unruly behavior — not to mention that this student leader is unable to recognize that it is outrageous to engage in middle-school-like antics such as throwing beer bottles at police cruisers, houses, and people.

The primary problem you have at a very-leftist university is that a disproportionate number of the rowdy participants think that they are subject to a different standard than everyone else. This condition is exascerbated by an enabling university administration that is afraid to enact and invoke even the most modest standards of control and enforcement.

When UConn students threw beer bottles at police cruisers, people, and otherwise misbehaved; they were arrested — and later expelled from school.

On the other hand, when Wesleyan students — on a public street — throw beer bottles hitting people on porches, hitting police cruisers, smashing debris, etc., these students instead expect to be treated by a different standard — involving huge bureaucratic policies outlining what constitutes unruliness when a Wesleyan student is involved.

The problem with being a trust-fund, spoiled brat is that it clouds reality — not just in the present, but for life.

What I think is an intelligent response from a Wes student:

I would like to respond to these comments as a current senior at Wesleyan.

I think it is important to start by saying that I do not believe Wesleyan students were completely in the right during the incidents on Fountain Avenue. The report that a beer bottle was thrown at a police car is certainly inappropriate and inexcusable. I also believe that the Middletown Police serve a vital job in our community and should come when they are called by Public Safety or any other Middletown resident. I resent the mentality of many (but certainly not all) Wesleyan students who argue that Middletown Police have no right to be present on our campus.

That being said, I feel the need to express discomfort and sadness at the blatant resentment of and disrespect for Wesleyan students that is displayed in these postings and written in this article.

The Courant article writes: “When students refused to disperse after being asked to by Wesleyan public safety officers, the officers contacted Middletown police. Students reacted to the increased police presence by throwing bottles and getting more unruly, prompting city police to request support from state police and police in Cromwell and Portland. After the incident, Wesleyan students claimed the police used unnecessary force in dispersing them.”

This quotation leaves out many important elements of the incident on Fountain Avenue. Never did the Courant article mention that police came with K9 units, whose dogs viciously mauled many students, more than one of whom was sent to the hospital. The article did not mention that multiple Wesleyan students were pepper sprayed and tazed by the police in attempt to get them to move off of their own street.

This was not a riot. It was not a protest or a giant drunken keg party with people jumping off roofs and fighting in the streets that needed to be violently broken up by police officers. I feel that it is very important for that to be understood. It is one thing for police to respond to a call and try to clear a party, it is another to unleash dogs on a crowd and pepper spray individuals standing in front of their homes.

To write that Wesleyan students “claimed” that police used unnecessary force in dispersing them delegitimizes the students and assumes that their side of the story is only a claim and thus false. By mentioning beer bottles thrown at police and never mentioning how the police chose to retaliate, Peter Marteka shows his disinterest in representing the full story for his readers.

The Fountain Incident is incredibly complex. It cannot be boiled down to finger pointing and a discussion of right vs. wrong and spoiled Wesleyan students vs. violent police. I would hope that as one of Connecticut’s most well respected newspapers, the Hartford Courant would be able to see that. I also would hope that its readers wouldn’t be so quick to judge Wesleyan students by an offensively written article and their own judgments of the Wesleyan community.

We are all residents of Connecticut. If this incident has showed us anything, it is that we need to learn to bridge the gap between what we expect from each other and how we try to get it. Poorly informed articles and verbal hatred from one group to the other, one both sides, is not the answer.

I personally think that what this points to, more than anything else, is a continued lack of ideal relations between Wesleyan and Middletown and the rest of the surrounding Connecticut community. I don’t know about the rest of you, but in my three+ years here, I’ve grown to really love this city. How do we begin to repair – at least, from our side – this broken relationship?

Thoughts?

Another Courant article: "Wesleyan Students, Youthful Offenders Collaborate"

Some may remember the controversy about a previous article about Wes students and individuals at the CT Juvenile Training School working to put on plays. The article was considered problematic in some ways.

A more recent Courant article from today features a slightly different angle, and makes for an interesting read, talking about the performances of ‘The Tempest’ and ‘Waiting for Godot’:

“It’s been an interesting academic experience, but also a personal one,” said Jordyn Lexton, a senior from Manhattan majoring in English. “You walk in here the first day and they have an impression of you and you have an impression of them based on preconceived and very superficial notions of what the other is going to be like.”

By working toward a shared goal, walls began to erode as a sense of trust grew, said Lexton, who is 22 and not sure whether she’ll work as a teacher after graduation or take a job in the sports division of HBO.

Most of the juvenile offenders who participated in the program have never acted before.

“At first, I was like, ‘This is going to be boring. I’m not sure I want to be here,'” said a 16-year-old convicted robber from Hartford. Initially, he only stuck with it because it was a way to avoid a class, he said. (The state Department of Children and Families, which runs the juvenile training school, insisted on anonymity for the incarcerated youths.)

Soon, however, the 16-year-old hit his stride. “I got more into it and I wanted to stay,” he said. He especially liked improvising, “making something out of nothing.” He is due to be released in September and plans to attend public school, with the goal of joining the Marines one day, he said.

Read more

Columnist lambastes student behavior on Fountain

Rick Green of the Hartford Courant has some harsh words for Wesleyan students in his May 23 column, “Wesleyan Protests Dishonor Activism.”

Green uses the ol’ there-are-bigger-and-more-important-things-going-on view not only to ignore the questionable police response to the party, but also to make a claim that we’re fighting for our right to party, rather than fighting what looks like an overreaction by the police.

Green’s claim copies, word for word, the thoughts of Middletown resident and blogger Ed McKeon, who wrote—a week before Green took up the topic—an entry on his blog Caterwauled, saying:

This was a Beastie Boys protest. Do any of us really care about fighting for the right to party?

Calling student actions on that now-infamous Friday morning an “embarrassment to this school’s noble tradition of bona fide protest,” Green goes on to criticize students for relating the MPD’s tactics to similar abuses in the past:

I don’t know what’s more depressing, reading the online comments from students comparing their brave bottle-throwing on Fountain Street to the civil rights movement or pulling out the yellowed clips from the not-so-long-ago days when a Wesleyan protest meant more than “This Bud’s for You.”

Green then goes on to overlook the legitimate issues at hand, I suppose because, for him, the fact that this started as a party and not some long-planned political protest means that police overreaction isn’t anything that needs to be mentioned in a column about a party whose only reason for notoriety… was police overreaction.

You may also want to check out the Topix forum on the column, which has some interesting and occasionally on-point reader comments.

Thanks, Ashley Casale ’11, for bringing this editorial to our attention!

1:10 AM: It’s a column, not an editorial. Thanks, Shoutboxer.

Courant article: way problematic?

Wes theater prof Ron Jenkins wrote an article headlined “Shakespeare’s Words Resonate With ‘Thugs’” in the Hartford Courant about Wesleyan students working with incarcerated teenagers at the Walter G. Cady School at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School. The article is currently being featured on Wesleyan’s homepage.

However, the article is controversial, possibly trivializing the experiences of the CJTS teenagers and Wesleyan students alike, as though this were a mere social experiment or charity event, and ignoring the underlying problems implied by a system where students clearly just as intelligent and capable of analyzing Shakespeare are instead incarcerated and prevented from reaching that potential. Jenkins writes:

The Wesleyan students had learned to see much more of Sam than the narrow sliver the rest of the world might call a “thug.”

To them he was a scholar. They brought him a stack of books as a going-away present. I gave him a copy of “The Tempest” to remind him of the insights he had gleaned in our class.

However, Joss Lake ’08 has another perspective, which provides an important counterpoint to the view represented in the Courant article:

I was shocked and deeply embarrassed by the headline on the Wesleyan homepage that read “Jenkins: Wesleyan Students Share Bard with ‘Thugs’.” Although the term “thug” was taken straight from a teacher’s statement about her students at the Cady School (part of the Connecticut Juvenile Training School), Prof. Jenkins in no way qualified the statement – in fact, his article seemed bemused that “we would be learning as much about Shakespeare from the Cady School students as we would be teaching them.”

The use of the word “thug” and Prof. Jenkins’ framing of the program seems to ignore the systemic racism and classism that underlies the prison system and appears entirely insensitive to the unequal power dynamics between privileged Wesleyan students and students who attend a juvenile training school. His tone within the article expressed a prejudiced surprise that the Cady School students could engage with such an icon of “high” literary culture, Shakespeare. Rather than calling into question elitist assumptions about intelligence, readership or perspective – assumptions that the program should have dealt with before it ever became a Wesleyan-sanctioned course – Prof. Jenkins’ comments seemed to reinforce them. I admire the potential the program might have had as a way of de-centering the university classroom as the site of legitimate knowledge, but as far as I understood the program based on the article, I don’t think the program questioned notions of power and privilege within academia.

The end of the article goes so far as to say that “the Wesleyan students had learned to see much more of Sam than the narrow sliver the rest of the world might call a ‘thug.’ To them he was a scholar.” Yet even this statement expresses sentimental surprise at the apparent incongruity between an incarcerated young adult and a Shakespearean scholar. I think the headline should be removed, of course, and that the foundations of the program itself should be questioned.

Thoughts are welcome.

Professor Finn on Presidential Power

Professor John E. Finn
Government Professor John E. Finn has an op-ed in the Hartford Courant today on the latest John Yoo memo, which basically asserts that the president has the authority to do whatever he thinks is necessary to do the things he thinks need to be done, constitution be damned.

Have a look at Professor Finn’s opinion:

Immediately following the terrible attacks of 9/11, President Bush promised an aggressive and comprehensive global war on terrorism. Every war seems to necessitate restrictions on civil liberty, but the president assured us that this war, the war on terrorism, must be understood as “a fight for our principles and our first responsibility is to live by them.”

Apparently those principles do not include the responsibility to abide by the constitutional document that gives them voice. The public release Tuesday of a memorandum on presidential power, prepared by John Yoo for the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice and later sent to Department of Defense, confirms what critics of the Bush presidency have said for years: This is an administration that has no respect for the rule of law, and which takes the astonishing position — sometimes called the unitary theory of the executive — that the Constitution imposes no limits on presidential authority during times of crisis or warfare.

Who decides if we are at war or in crisis? Who determines when (or if) the crisis has ended? Those decisions, too, the theory holds, are entrusted to the president and only to the president.

There’s more at the Hartford Courant.