Tag Archives: follow-up

Follow-up: Classism at Wesleyan

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Classism is complex, no doubt. Talking about money is supposedly tactless — hey oh last weekend’s This American Life — but Americans do it all the time. And even if we didn’t, a person’s wealth or, more accurately, assumed wealth, is presumed through many a factor — where they’re from, what (who) they wear, their skin tone, their manners, their speech, their prior education, the list goes on… Many Wesleyan students feel a discomfort when confronted with issues of class; this discomfort may be born from being privileged in one’s upbringing, feeling a lack of understanding of class issues, or being keenly aware of the difficulty of living on a relatively low income in the U.S — and this is certainly not an exhaustive list of sources of discomfort in discussing class. But however complex, uncomfortable, or delicate the conversation, it’s time everyone at Wesleyan recognizes and becomes sensitive to the fact that Wes is no haven from classism.

As an introduction to wealth inequality in America here’s a video. For thoughts on class at universities, check out this recent magazine article from Yale. Also, this excellent exhibition at Skidmore (and source of the photo above) titled “Classless Society” provides some great fodder for thinking about class.

At Wesleyan, the general concept of classism is usually articulated in relation to quests for social justice on campus. For example, a search of the Argives for “classism” will return Wespeaks and pieces such as this and this. Of course, during the last couple years, issues of classism have become more specific: the elimination of Wesleyan’s “need-blind” label, calls for alumni to halt their giving, and recent USLAC efforts and protests of the conditions under which university employees work (for more on this subject, read BZOD’s great three-part series, or check out this post about the Privilege & Policy forum on classism).

1002588_10151723365390509_1599490200_nOf course, experiences of class difference are not limited to these pretty well-publicized, institutional level efforts. With this in mind, the goal of this write-in was to give voice to some of the more every-day influences of class difference students experience. Many respondents felt the need to start at the beginning:

Follow-up: Weird Wesleyan?

360268455_d39790574dIn fall 2006, in reaction to a series of crackdowns including the painting over of the Butts tunnels, relocation of the Halloween party from Eclectic, and the infamous chalking ban, and concern over the loss of Weskids’ “counter-cultural edge“, a Facebook group sprung up calling for students to Keep Wesleyan Weird. Here’s Roth’s statement from back in the day on the subject (for inspiration, ya know?). You may have– like me– first heard mention of the student-led “Keep Wesleyan Weird” campaign in Margot Boyer-Dry ’11‘s Senior Class Welcome. Since then, I’ve been a-wonderin: Have we been keeping it weird?
First off, a submission that gets right to the point:

Weird is a social construct. –Anon ’14

You weren’t the only one questioning what it is to be weird, Anon ’14.

as a freshman i entered a nics 6 bathroom and saw a large quantity of human hair in the trashcan, arranged in such a way that it looked like it could have still been attached to a head… i really cautiously pulled on a lock of the hair. to my relief, it was not attached to anything. i was really high when this happened, and maybe objectively it’s not that weird, but weirdness is in the eye of the beholder. –Anon ’13

You may even have a preference of weirdness.

I prefer the everyday acts of weirdness done not to create a spectacle but with genuine purpose, like the group of bros currently practicing some sort of interpretive dance routine outside of Usdan … I admire their devotion and total lack of embarrassment. You do you, bro dancers.–Ella Dawson ’14

Weird is a social construct? Obvs. Only, I daresay Wesleyan’s construction of weirdness differs from Amherst’s. If I learned one thing from this write-in, it’s that Wesleyan’s out-of-the-ordinary happenings and simultaneous criticism is exactly what makes Wesleyan “weird”.  There’s something about these unusual or inexplicable happenings that captivates Wesleyan’s students and fans.

After the jump– the rest of your submissions! (seriously, you want to read them)