Tag Archives: Dean Mike

Beyond Scott Backer: Accountability at Wesleyan in the Sexual Misconduct Judicial Process

This article has been the collaborative effort of kitab, Maya, and wilk.


Last night, the Spotlight team at the Boston Globe published the latest installment in their “Private Schools, Painful Secrets” series detailing New England private schools’ repeated mishandling of reports of sexual misconduct and assault involving administrators. The Globe article, titled “Educators accused of sexual misconduct often find new posts,” exposed more explicitly that one of these administrators turned out to be Wesleyan’s own former Associate Dean of Students, Scott Backer.

The Globe team focuses on how the lack of public accountability at private schools allows offenders to “rewrite their pasts,” going on to hold positions at other institutions. Administrations keep quiet to avoid scandal, more concerned with image than the wellbeing of their own and other students. The article makes little mention of our own administration, however.

Interested in structures of accountability at Wesleyan, we looked into the timeline of Backer’s employment and his role in the institutional structures already in place for reporting and adjudicating sexual misconduct. What we found suggests that there are very few processes by which student and faculty complaints about administrative conduct can be heard or taken seriously.

That Wesleyan employed an offender for eight years–despite accounts from students that he was not doing his  job properly–and then failed to be transparent about his “departure” from the university is an example of a broader pattern. The problem is larger than Scott Backer.

All-Campus Email: “Open Container” Policy In Effect

A new week at Wesleying typically means a new issue for Wes students to get angry about, and the summer’s no exception. The Tour de Franzia debacle blew over and Mytheos’s trademark vitriol lost its edge, but Vice President of Student Affairs Mike Whaley flies to the rescue with an all-campus email announcing an amendment to Wesleyan’s AOD (Alcohol and Other Drug) Policy: a ban on misuse of prescription drugs and, more controversially, a ban on open containers of alcohol on University property:

Wesleyan policy also will prohibit open containers of alcohol on University property beginning this fall. This change brings our policy more in line with our peers, and should help us address problems associated with transient public drinking, clarify expectations for alcohol use on University property, and resolve discrepancies between University policy and existing City ordinances.  The new policy will not prevent students of legal age from responsibly consuming alcohol in their residences (or in the backyards of senior houses); nor will it apply to registered events, such as University-sponsored activities, approved student parties, Spring Fling, etc.  At the suggestion of some of the student leaders with whom I’ve consulted, members of the Wesleyan community who are of legal age will be permitted to responsibly consume alcohol on Foss Hill during daylight hours.

Previously, public consumption of alcohol by students of legal age was only banned in Usdan, academic buildings, and within 15 feet of a sidewalk or street. The possibility of an open container policy was discussed in an April 16 Argus article, wherein current WSA President-Elect and then Chair of the Policy and Accountability Committee Micah Feiring ’11 stated his firm opposition to the proposal:

Dean Danny Leaving Wes

Dean of Diversity Danny Teraguchi is apparently leaving Wesleyan next month to take up a similar position at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Vice President for Diversity Sonia Mañjon will temporarily take over his job until a successor is found.

Dean Mike Whaley’s campus-wide email:

During his two years at Wesleyan, Danny has helped build our collective intercultural competence and fostered our ability to have meaningful conversations about difficult diversity issues. He has played a major role in supporting students and student-led initiatives focused on improving the campus climate.

At Hopkins, Danny’s position will focus on excellence in student diversity within the School of Medicine. This job opportunity was also compelling for Danny because his wife lives and works in Washington, D.C.! I will certainly miss his perspective and contributions as a member of my leadership team. Please join me in thanking Danny for his significant work and wishing him well in his new role.

Farewell Reception for Dean Danny Teraguchi (open to public)
Date: Wednesday, September 24th
Time: 3:30 pm-4:30 pm
Place: Beckham Hall

Argus: University Welcomes First Dean of Diversity

Dean Mike Gets an Upgrade

Dean Mike Whaley is now Vice President for Student Affairs Mike, effective immediately, as Michael Roth has announced via campus-wide email:

“Dean Mike” (as I suspect he will always be called!) has been serving as Interim Dean of the College. In addition to supervising a large and complex office, he has worked imaginatively with the Vice President for Academic Affairs to develop programs that connect faculty and students outside the classroom in a variety of co-curricular activities. The change of title to Vice President for Student Affairs more accurately reflects the duties of the position as it has evolved at Wesleyan, and positions the office as an integral part of the educational enterprise.

Mike has a true gift for hearing students, for understanding their issues, and for working with them to enhance the meaningfulness of their time at Wesleyan. That’s part of the reason why the Wesleyan Student Assembly so strongly expressed support for this appointment. The importance of his efforts cannot be overstated; the academic success of our students and the impressions of Wesleyan they take to heart depend heavily upon what happens outside the classroom. Mike believes we can do much more to infuse co-curricular activities with intellectual excitement, and I share his enthusiasm.

Mike holds a B.S. in microbiology from Cornell, and masters degrees in counseling and higher education from Central Connecticut State University. Since 1997, he has served with distinction as Dean of Student Services, becoming Interim Dean of the College in 2007. He has worked with students and faculty in numerous capacities, including the development of a strategic facilities plan, improvement of relations with city residents, enhancement of services for students with disabilities, oversight of the student judicial system, and improvements to orientation activities. Throughout his tenure he has been a strong advocate for effective student governance as well as active student participation in institutional decision making.

Mike is well known on campus and admired for his sensitivity and his thoughtfulness, his leadership and his ability to engage diverse aspects of the student body in building a joyful community of learning. Please join me in congratulating him!

WTF is the internet?

Dean Mike sent out an all-students-on-campus email today regarding the RIAA’s lawsuit-fest-07, reminding us that illegal filesharing can get us caught. He continued on to quote the ITS computer usage policy.

ITS’ computer usage policy states that, “users must observe intellectual property rights including, in particular, copyright laws as they apply to software and electronic forms of information. For example, running a program which allows illegal sharing of copyrighted music or video is prohibited.”

Uhoh… I can think of lots of things that allow for illegal sharing of copyrighted music or video. Should we be deleting Mac OS X’s Finder and Windows’ explorer.exe?

Save me from myself.