Tag Archives: eclectic hosting ban

Eclectic Event Hosting Ban Is Over

President Roth apparently lifted the Eclectic social event hosting ban last night.

The Eclectic society is on probation for the rest of the year and Reslife penalties will remain, but as far as we can tell the previously canceled shows once again have a venue and the Sound Co-op is back in action.

Good decision! More details as they come.

[EDIT: 11:14 pm]
President Roth posted a concise, characteristically level-headed explanation of the entire fiasco, as well as the terms of Eclectic’s probation, on the Roth blog:

If you follow news of Wesleyan, you already know that there has recently been disciplinary action taken by the Student Judicial Board against Eclectic because of an incident at the house in December. The student board that heard the case found that the society had been guilty of violations of the party and noise policies and a failure to comply with requests from Public Safety. They thought a proper penalty for this would be to forbid Eclectic from hosting social/musical events at night through the end of April.

Many students have been very upset about this ruling because it doesn’t only affect Eclectic but the whole musical culture of Wesleyan. I understand the basis for this concern: the society does provide a vital function for the presentation of music in a distinctive setting. Much of the great musical culture we prize at Wesleyan passes through Eclectic. However, if the society can not present music in a way that is safe and that recognizes the rights of the neighborhood, then Eclectic won’t be able to play that role in the future.

I am confident that the SJB and Dean Backer acted in accordance with our procedures, and that their findings in regard to the events of December 8, 2008 were correct. However, based on communication with Eclectic since that time, and my belief that the society is committed to acting as responsible hosts for events, I have reconsidered and modified the sanction in this case.

I take seriously (and appreciate) Eclectic’s desire to host events in a way that works for the artists, is safe for those who attend, and respects the rights of neighbors. This is also my intention and the intention of Student Affairs. So, rather than ban events for the remainder of the semester, I have asked Marshall Ball, Eclectic’s President, and Dean Rick Culliton to work together on a written agreement that delineates Eclectic’s responsibilities for events going forward. If they can reach the agreement quickly, events can resume under the specific guidelines. As long as the events continue according to those guidelines, the ban will remain lifted.

At the end of the semester representatives of Eclectic and Student Affairs can discuss what went well, and where we need to pay more attention to run the kinds of events we all want. If we are unable to run events this term in accord with the principles with which we all agree, then we will not plan any social or musical events at 200 High Street going forward. Thus, this is a probationary period that should allow us to move to a better platform for events in the future.

I very much appreciate the difficult work that the Student Judicial Board did in sorting out the facts in this case. I also am grateful for the thoughtful responses from many in the Eclectic Society, and others who cherish the vibrant music scene on campus. I hope that by developing a framework for hosting events at 200 High Street we will continue to have interesting artists perform in a context that is exciting and safe for those who attend, and that is respectful of the community in which we live.

So Eclectic is on probation for the rest of the semester, and has to work on a detailed list of responsibilities for events with the Dean which they have to uphold. If all goes well at the end of the semester they should be good to go; if more things go wrong, no more Eclectic events next year.

Harsh. At least it resolves the issue for now – hopefully no more unfortunate incidents go down this semester to make that a possibility.

Eclectic Petition Now Closed

The “Overturn Eclectic Housing Restriction” online petition is now closed after having received 721 signatures. Here’s a message from Eclectic:

Thank you so much for your support.

Unfortunately, due to spam, the petition is now closed. We strongly urge you to contact Assistant Director of Student Affairs Scott Backer (sbacker@wes) or President Michael Roth (mroth@wes) to vocalize your concerns.

We’re taking the link down from the sidebar.

Open Letter from the Eclectic Society

Eclectic has posted an open letter to the Wesleyan community on their website.

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Open Letter from Eclectic:

First, we want to thank you for your support so far. There are almost 700 signatures on the petition to overturn the House Hosting Ban. Musicians, event organizers, WSA members, faculty, enthusiastic students, and alums have expressed unease with the SJB and the administration’s actions in this case.

Unfortunately, President Michael Roth rejected our formal appeal. Before break, we were hesitant to release a factual public statement before we had gone through the provided channels of appeal, out of consideration for the pending status of our appeal, and the individual students implicated therein. Now that we’ve exhausted formal channels, President Roth is back from Asia, and we are all back from break, we turn to you.

Here are the facts as we see them: on December 8, the last day of classes, there was a party at our house. A neighbor called in three noise complaints in a row, with the intent of getting the event shut down. Some Eclectic alums had come to visit, and, disappointed that the event was stopped, moved upstairs to the Gote room with a smaller group of people. That gathering too was broken up, and the vast majority of guests left. An individual Eclectic resident started to play music in his room later, with no more than 10 friends. Public Safety stopped him. The SJB charged the Society as a whole for these infractions, despite alums and hosts’ willingness to take individual responsibility for their actions.

Our objection to this punishment is manifold: We were given an abbreviated hearing rather than a full hearing, but given a punishment that can only be dispensed by the full SJB. We believe that Assistant Director of Student Affairs Scott Backer, rather than the SJB as a whole, decided upon this ban. In the flurry of meetings that ensued with Backer, Dean Mike Whaley, and President Roth, Backer was inconsistent. The SJB sanction dated 2/26 specifically banned “performances, gatherings, parties, or any events”. After students expressed shock on Wesleying and other forums, Backer hastily sent us a new letter, back-dated to 2/26, with revised wording restricting “social events, parties, concerts, or other events that fit the requirements of the Social Event Policy”. Furthermore, Backer first told us that he was punishing irresponsible event hosts rather than Eclectic; however, in his formal “Rationale” for the punishment, he cited untried individual infractions of both members and non-members all the way back to September. He particularly alluded to guests who showed up intoxicated to our ticketed, non-alcoholic events, and required medical assistance. We are surprised to be punished for assisting students, none of whom were Society members, in what we thought was compliance with University expectations.

The student body and our Society are being antagonized for unrelated incidents that took place over a long period of time, rather than any specific, punishable incident. We believe that this punishment undermines the legitimacy of Wesleyan’s judicial system. Most importantly, we strongly believe that the punishment is overly broad, punishing not only Eclectic, but the Wesleyan student body: the dedicated hosts, musicians, organizers, and attendees that make Eclectic, and the Wesleyan campus, what they are. 70% of student-run events are scheduled to take place at Eclectic this semester. We hold Scott Backer accountable for his misled intent to squash student social life, just as he was misled when he suggested prohibition of alcohol on campus last year. We hold Michael Roth accountable for overlooking our appeal in favor of blind trust, despite the established appeals system.

We will continue to look to you for support in the coming week, and will keep you posted on our plans. Already, the Sound Co-op has expressed their solidarity with Eclectic and the student body, and disappointment with the administration’s complacency. We welcome any suggestions you might have for additional ways of communicating to the administration that student social life is not dispensable.

Sincerely,

The Eclectic Society

Open Call to Anybody Losing Money on the Eclectic House Hosting Restriction

This post is a call for information about anybody who is losing student group money due to contracting issues and the Eclectic House Hosting Restriction.

There has been a severe lack of balanced information regarding this whole controversy; the only public statements are being issued by members of the Eclectic society, while the SJB are most likely bound by confidentiality restrictions and are thus unable to respond to Eclectic’s accusations. While I don’t want to call Eclectic a bunch of liars, there is evidence that Eclectic may be misrepresenting their case.

This is mostly due to a comment by Anna W on Aural Wes post Free Eclectic (and one of the few actual pieces of information from the Administration):

Here is the notice Eclectic’s house manager received in his mailbox yesterday, explaining what it would mean for Eclectic to be on “disciplinary probation”:

“200 High Street as a venue for performances, gatherings, parties or any events is restricted through April 30, 2009. This restriction will be lifted to allow the previously contracted event to occur at 200 High Street during accepted candidates’ weekend.”

We’re relaying the information as it is relayed to us. More as it comes in.

The wording of this letter strongly implies that the ban is being lifted on Wesfest is due to “previous contracting,” as opposed to the idea that (as Eclectic has been asserting) “selling the school to prospective students is more of a priority than maintaining a thriving student culture.”

However, as I mentioned earlier, I do not want to unduly accuse anybody of intentionally misleading the student body. What’s more, “strongly implies” by no means “proves” that this is the case. Still, there is enough room for doubt in the situation that it is important for the full story to be available to the students, as the House Hosting Restriction affects us all.

Thus, I am calling for anybody who has actually contracted a band to play and actually lost student group money due to the house hosting restriction to come forward and prove that the lifting of the house hosting restriction for Wesfest is a result of the administration’s desire to woo admitted students, rather than uphold previously contracted agreements.

If the information does come to light, I will be the first to call the administration on its bullshit and support Eclectic against the administration’s decision. However, if this doesn’t happen, then we, as the student body, have reason to believe that Eclectic is intentionally distorting the facts of the situation in order to appear sympathetic. I personally hope the former is true, but we, as critically minded students, cannot blind ourselves to the possibility of the latter.

Sound Co-op cancels its events for the semester

This is its letter to the student body in full:

In light of the decisions made by Scott Backer and the SJB, and the subsequent appeal that was denied by Michael Roth (read here: wesleying.blogspot.com/2009/03/sjb-shuts-down-all-eclectic-events-for.html), I have decided that the Wesleyan Sound Cooperative will cease functioning as of Sunday March 29th until the Eclectic event-hosting ban is repealed or a satisfactory settlement is made between the school and the Society allowing for access to the venue. This means that all events currently scheduled are considered canceled until further notice. Shows this week (23rd – 28th) will still be happening, as there is obviously not enough time for organizers to plan around the shutdown. If you currently have a show planned later than this week, you will or already have received an email from a WSC member. Please do not contact me or any other co-op members regarding this decision, as there will be no special exceptions made and no questions to be answered except, ‘has the school overturned the decision?’ As soon as the answer to this question is ‘yes,’ the cooperative will run again as usual. We are still taking event requests on our website (wesleyan.edu/wsa/wsc) in the hopes that this situation is resolved quickly. If you are disappointed or concerned by the turn of events, I ask that you politely email either Scott Backer (sbacker01@wes) or Michael Roth (mroth@wes) to explain how the shutdown affects you and ask that they reconsider their actions so that an amplified and vibrant campus culture may continue at Wesleyan.

Members of the Eclectic Society founded the sound cooperative almost 20 years ago in order to facilitate musical events that would otherwise be impossible to fund using professional audio companies. The co-op allows anyone who is interested the opportunity to learn life long skills in technical audio production and event planning. As a result of its creation, and in spite of the fact that to this day Wesleyan refuses to create a viable administration-organized free event space, the Sound Co-op saves Wesleyan students somewhere on the order of $30,000 – 60,000 a year in professional audio service fees. This allows for many more events to be funded, which in turn means that the co-op runs slightly over one hundred shows every year. By this count, I have organized sound for over 300 shows during my time here at Wesleyan and am fortunate to have many talented people transitioning into control as I will be graduating this semester. The co-op has expanded during my tenure to include many events not related to live music, which I see as a great development.

Unfortunately, the decision rendered by Scott Backer and the SJB aims to discriminate between where and what type of event is allowable on campus, thus dictating the realms of campus culture. I personally find this detestable and am of the opinion that the full ramifications of the punishment levied have not been thoroughly considered. The shutdown of the co-op aims to help rectify this oversight.

I am basing my decision around the argument that if the Wesleyan administration wants to define campus culture and what is or is not allowable based on how ‘problematic’ or how much of a ‘liability’ they perceive an event to be for them then it is folly to have a student-run and student-funded business continue to facilitate a culture we ourselves are not in control of. The ethos of the co-op is one of absolute indiscrimination, as long as we have the equipment and someone signs up to work, we will work an event. Despite the fact that the shutdown will result in lost wages for co-op workers including myself, I feel that this is the only acceptably principled response to an unprincipled and poorly considered punishment.

Historically, the administration has been happy to allow students to organize and pay for their own shows and events because student-run and student-funded events increase Wesleyan’s social capital at essentially no cost to the school. Utilizing the WSA, SBC, and SALD for assistance allows for an incredible number of student-run events to take place every week. However, with the Eclectic shutdown, the administration is asserting that they do indeed have a say in how student funds are to be distributed and thus what events may or may not take place on campus. Eclectic is the only free student-run venue on campus that has a seating capacity of over 100. Therefore, unless the SBC has the funds to pay for pro audio services at other venues, I will consider the school to be the party responsible for funding and organizing sound services for student events. I do not report to any school administrator, I help run a club funded by the SBC in order to make campus life more exciting and vibrant. The co-op works in direct service to the student body but will not be coerced into accepting fluxuating social ethics determined ad hoc by the administration.

I’m sure you can surmise that the school has neither the resources nor the desire to take up the slack left over by the co-op (except perhaps regarding WesFest), so I will preemptively make the assertion that it is now YOUR job to organize and fund sound services for events you would like to have or plan to have on campus. Again, please understand that I am not doing this to punish the student body, but instead to force those who utilize the co-op and those that directly benefit from it’s existence to make their displeasure known to the administration. I know this decision will be incredibly unpopular but I ask that you fully reflect on the historical and ongoing relationship the co-op has to events held at Eclectic and consider this a sign of solidarity and not a dismissal of individual student groups or events. Regardless of your personal opinions concerning the Eclectic Society or the events held there, I urge you to consider that the series of decisions made by the administration are of a discriminatory nature regarding what types of events the school implicitly condones. The fact that the administration is now trying to dictate how students should spend their own money is nothing short of insulting. The more you make your displeasure known to administrators, the faster we can move on from this terrible decision and get back to having great amplified events across campus.

Sincerely,
Yale Yng-Wong ’09, President of the Wesleyan Sound Cooperative,
Amanda Contrada ‘10, Co-President of the Wesleyan Sound Cooperative, and Max Krafft ’09, Ben Bernstein ‘10, Tom Brewer ‘12, Adam Gunther ‘11, Bill Kirstein ‘10, Sam Long ‘12, Mary Longley ‘10, Sam Lyons ‘12, Dana Matthiessen ‘09, Howe Pearson ‘12, Jeff Rovinelli ‘10, Fareed Sajan ‘09, and Harrison Schaaf ‘11

SJB’s WesFest Exemption for Eclectic, Revealed

So probably the most contentious thing about Eclectic being banned from hosting any more events this semester is that one exception in particular was made: a concert on WesFest weekend.

From the WesFest event catalogue:

09:00 PM – 01:00 AM

Alumni Music Extravaganza ft. Francis and the Lights, Das Racist, Acrylics, and See/Saw!

This will be a dance party night to remember, featuring three successful Brooklyn-based Wesleyan alumni bands and one current student band. Not to be missed for fans of MGMT!

Location: Eclectic House (200 High St), Ballroom

DIRECTLY REFERENCES MGMT.

Come, prefrosh! Look at our music scene! JUST KIDDING.

Well, it’s incredibly convenient that the only show escaping the effective shutting down of Wesleyan’s student music scene falls during WesFest and is only the most prominent example of said music scene this semester.

And the fact that this is the one event they’re letting slide undermines the stated rationale for banning events in the first place: because of a noise complaint. All this talk about the event that’s being exempt from the Eclectic shut-down… what is it? A talk, an academic lecture, a convention? IT’S A SHOW. A Wes alum band showcase. THAT WILL BE NOISY.

I’m really looking forward to hearing the Student Judicial Board’s rationale behind this in detail, when/if it becomes available. We’ve heard Eclectic’s side of the story, but it’s necessary to get a more complete picture of why the punishment seems so much implausibly harsher than the crime as it’s been described so far.

But from the way it looks now, it just seems that there was a remarkable lack of foresight in the making of this decision. More info as it comes in.

Petition to Overturn Eclectic Hosting Ban

An online petition to lift the ban on social events at Eclectic is up. Here’s what you’re signing for:

The Eclectic Society has recently been informed by Scott Backer and the Student Judicial Board that all events, lectures, gatherings, and shows taking place at 200 High St. this semester – including those already scheduled – must be canceled due to a “House Hosting Restriction.” Backer and the SJB have made one exception: WesFest weekend. We feel that in eliminating Eclectic as a campus-wide venue, these restrictions threaten to eliminate an integral campus space necessary to foster the creative and intellectual energy upon which Wesleyan prides itself. We will be appealing this mandate this week and hope that wide student support will help the case.

In signing this petition I declare my support for the Eclectic Society’s efforts to overturn the House Hosting Restriction in order to maintain all previously-scheduled events for the duration of the semester.

If you’re somehow resentful of Eclectic, be clear about the distinction between your sense of schadenfreude and the seriously negative impact this ban will have on life at Wesleyan. Shutting down all events taking place at Eclectic for the rest of the semester doesn’t just punish Eclectic members, it punishes the campus as a whole.

Eclectic is unmatched as a consistent venue for events at Wesleyan, and you’ve got to understand the benefits of having it available as a public space for students even if you don’t personally attend these events .

And if you do appreciate live music, just look at this sad, sad list of events from Aural Wes and note how many are potentially no longer happening:

UPCOMING EVENTS

march 4: buru style & special guest (public)
march 5: noms, decora, sewing machines, tall tales (eclectic) CANCELLED
march 5: chris white, stephanie nilles, captain coconut (earth house)
march 25: cassorla, dear lamp (earth house)
march 26: pink reason, hue blanc’s joyless ones (eclectic)CANCELLED
march 26: dar williams
march 27: ryan leslie (eclectic)CANCELLED
march 28: kentucky fried doom, sourvein, ehnahre, relics (eclectic)CANCELLED
march 28: raina rose, rebecca loebe (earth house)
april 3: buru style, barefoot junction, banish the rabbit (psi u)
april 3: big tree, shai erlichman, tall tales (eclectic)CANCELLED
april 4: pissed jeans, drunkdriver (eclectic)CANCELLED
april 10: previously on lost (eclectic)CANCELLED
april 11: art show with musical guests adam gunther, zully adler, celia hollander (eclectic)CANCELLED
april 16: das racist, francis & the lights, acrylics, tall tales (eclectic)CANCELLED – oops, this one will still happen!
april 23: battle of the bands (eclectic)CANCELLED
april 24: ponytail, miracles of modern science (eclectic)CANCELLED
april 30: mice parade (eclectic)CANCELLED
may 1: japanther, ninjasonik, grocery thief, michael jordan (eclectic)
& more! (send us your shows)

The SJB should really consider other ways of sanctioning those students responsible for the infractions that led to this restriction, which aren’t detrimental to the greater student body.

Read Aural Wes editor Anna Wiener ’09‘s impassioned plea to students here. Paper petitions will be distributed all week during meal times at Usdan, but be sure to sign the online one as well.

Judging by the interest expressed by readers in the previous post, we will easily get 1,000 signatures over the next few days.

Online petition to lift the ban on social events at Eclectic.

SJB to shut down all Eclectic events this semester

Wesleying just received the following e-mail from Alex Chaves ’12 on behalf of Eclectic Society:

Recently Scott Backer and the Student Judicial Board has informed the Eclectic Society that all events, lectures, gatherings, and shows will be canceled and prohibited at Eclectic due to a “House Hosting Restriction” through April 30th, with the exception of the weekend of WesFest for pre-frosh.

These charges are being made over noise complaints during one night last semester. As a society we are distraught; if this Hosting Restriction is to remain, it will mean that NO EVENTS will be able to occur at Eclectic for the remainder of the semester. We as a society feel that the exception for WesFest indicates that the administration is more interested in creating the appearance of student life for prospective students than actually supporting student culture.

This ban includes a Das Racist and Ponytail concert, an STI testing day, lectures by Lynn Owens and Patricia Clough with the Sociology department, a college in prison fundraising event with Bro-zone, along with many other events. Many students outside of the Eclectic Society have worked hard to plan these beneficial events, and we as a society want to provide a space for them. We feel that these charges will do great damage to the Wesleyan student body, and will undermine the purpose of Eclectic’s presence on this campus.

Eclectic is asking you, the student body of Wesleyan, to help support us in lifting these charges and maintaining the planned events over the course of the semester (events we all were looking forward to). We will be distributing a petition for this Hosting Ban, please sign. We feel that Eclectic makes a positive contribution to the intellectual and artistic atmosphere of Wesleyan’s campus and this punishment is overly harsh. We have tried to provide Wesleyan with fun and stimulating events that improve student life at Wesleyan, please support us in continuing this tradition.

Please join us in appealing these charges,
The Eclectic Society

So, I’m conflicted. On the one hand, in my experience, the SJB tends to be pretty fair. When they dish out harsh punishment, it’s usually justified. Minor violations really are given warnings. Without further details about the violation that led to this punishment, I’d be hesitant to sign a petition.

That said, this totally sucks for the entire campus. Some of the proposed events benefit the whole community in remarkable ways – the free STI testing is an obvious example, but so are the academic lectures and cultural events. (Patricia Clough? As a soc major, can I just say, that’s AWESOME.)

I know we at Wesleyan tend to get very angry very quickly, but I urge Wesleying’s readers to channel that frustration. Instead of getting angry at the administration/SJB without knowing the facts, let’s try to find a way to react calmly, while still appreciating the fantastic events Eclectic throws every semester, and finding a way to help Eclectic continue doing so.

[edit 12:30am] Anna Wiener ’09 wrote a letter on AuralWes that clarifies what Alex wrote, and has more information about where to find the petition to sign. Definitely read that.

[edit by Sheek, 3/3, 2:15 pm] An online petition is also up, sign it!