Image from AuralWes venue page on the WestCo cafe. Showtunes Sideways went up in the cafe during the weekend of April 28
The following is a write-in from Kai Magee ’18. Kai reached out to us after his concept for a Showtunes Sideways performance was rejected. We decided to publish his statement (modified from an open letter to the Showtunes Sideways coordinators) in order to give a voice to someone on campus who felt like they weren’t being heard, and to hopefully address issues of trans representation and inclusion in our community.
The following views are the writer’s own.
“Burning and defacing the flag is a critique of what American patriotism and the American flag represent.”
On Friday, hundreds of Wesleyan students took part in a multi-stage demonstration that featured testimonies and chants from perspectives ranging from staunchly anti-State to “final stands” of full blown Trump supporters.
The second stage of the demonstration saw students gathered outside of Olin library and several among the crowd ascending the steps to communicate their response to the election results. During this part of the demonstration, we posted a live Facebook video of Yael Horowitz ’17 and Abby Cunniff ’17 spray painting “Amerikkka” on an upside down American flag. The video now has over 22,000 views and 142 shares. Many comments on the video declare their hatred for Wesleyan students, and several have been explicitly threatening and violent. We are posting the following guest submission so that they protesters can explain their motivations. The following views are the writers’ own.
from the Wesleyan Photo Tumblr
The below has been edited and republished with the permission of the writer, Mika Reyes ’17. The original can be found on Medium here.
Imagine you, a Wesleyan student, are staying late at a friend’s place after losing track of time. Then you realize: oh no, there’s no space for you to stay in this room–you can hardly see the floor with all this dirty laundry around, plus there are already 5 other people sleeping over. But, shucks, you live all the way on the opposite corner of campus. It’s 2AM on a cold, wintry night and you don’t want to encounter scary people, the dreadful cold, and possible snow monsters that may come out. Who do you call? The Ride!
The Ride is Wesleyan’s 7PM–3AM campus night shuttle. It is a life saver, especially during dead, freezing, lonely winter nights (AKA the majority of the school year).
This year, I live in Lighthouse, past Freeman, and basically one of the farthest corners of campus. Only consolation is that the community is great (and that I live close to the gym, I guess). I’ve been taking The Ride every night to bring me home and I imagine I will be doing this for the rest of the semester. The Ride drivers and I will all be close buds by the end of it.
Recently, however, they changed the way they handled commutes. Instead of students being able to call in for their services, like a taxi cab, it instead follows a predetermined route, like a bus stop. Last night, I took it, but noticed other things didn’t change along with the change in this system. An important design lesson: systems are intertwined and changing one part of a system ripples through other parts. I wanted to evaluate some problems (outlined below in 3-ish major categories) and imply quick recommendations on design solutions.
“I, like everyone else, have the prerogative to define my ‘I am.'”
Last April, we posted a letter from Andre Pierce, an incarcerated student enrolled at the Wesleyan Center for Prison Education (CPE). The responses to that post were overwhelmingly positive, but there were some comments that questioned Andre calling himself a Wesleyan student. Last year’s CPE fellow printed all of those comments and brought them to Andre in prison. Here is his response to them:
My name is Andre Pierce, and I am an African-American prisoner at Cheshire Correctional Institution. I’ve been enrolled in the Wesleyan Center for Prison Education (CPE) for five years. The CPE offers credit-bearing courses, taught by Wesleyan professors, inside prison walls. The CPE’s student population has expanded from 18 to 36 incarcerated students over the past five years. CPE has been rewarding to me not merely in an academic sense, but also in a personal sense. It has and continues to expand my worldview. It sharpens my critical thinking skills like a blade. It improves my communication skills to the level where I can seriously engage with Wesleyan professors about their academic interests. The CPE has been so life altering for me that I felt the need to share this experience with you, the Wesleyan student body, in the spring of 2013, in an essay titled Wesleyan Aids a Prisoner in Rehabilitation that was published on Wesleying.
“For almost 40 years I have been so proud of Wesleyan students and alumni. But I am not seeing the level of activism that is necessary for this existential fight.”
Several weeks ago, members of a student group calling themselves Wes, Divest! put together a petition calling on President Roth and the Board of Trustees to divest from fossil fuels. The petition has since amassed more than 250 signatures, many with accompanying messages of support. President Roth hasn’t yet publicly responded. When asked about the possibility of divestment at a WSA meeting in March, he suggested that it was highly unlikely—and argued that Wesleyan’s endowment shouldn’t be a “vehicle for social change.”
As the push for divestment first starts to heat up at Wesleyan (as it already has at Tufts, Amherst, and much of the ‘Cac), we’re presenting a guest perspective by Lauren Steiner ’79, an environmental activist and Wes alum who urges all Wesleyan students to take up the fight now, before it’s too late:
“Plant trees, create recycled art, tour a chestnut orchard, work on an organic garden and much more during Earth Month at Wesleyan!” So reads the first sentence of an article in the latest edition of The Wesleyan Connection emailed to me in April. As an environmental activist who attended the first Earth Day celebration 33 years ago at age 12 and who planned an LA solidarity rally to the D.C. Forward on Climate Rally this past February, I found this quite dismaying. When I was at Wesleyan between 1975 and 1979, when we hadn’t even heard of climate change, we were actively protesting threats to the environment and human health. In 1976 and 1977, activists from Wesleyan joined the Clamshell Alliance protesting the construction of the Seabrook nuclear power plant in New Hampshire. Where is that activism now when environmental threats are so much worse?
“I tried to look around myself more critically, and… shit, it was just as awesome a place I’ve always thought.”
This year, for the first time ever, we asked prefrosh to send in their impressions of WesFest for publication on Wesleying. Our first guest post comes from Chris Gortmaker ’17, an Early Decision prefrosh from Belmont, Massachusetts. Feel free to leave a comment, but don’t be an asshole. Here’s Chris:
Wesfest was awesome, but really, I wouldn’t have expected anything less. As an ED1 admit, I went to Wesfest without any doubts as to where I’d be spending my next four years. My decision was in, and my two-and-a-half days on campus did nothing but affirm my choice. The fellow prefrosh I met were consistently great people, and everything from Battle of the Bands at Eclectic to wine and cheese (the cheese notoriously absent) at WestCo kicked my ass with just how right it felt.
My sense of belonging stayed with me throughout, but was put somewhat into perspective at the Wednesday night comedy show in the Nics Lounge. A stand-up comedian whose name I forget—I do recall that he, in full police officer garb and brandishing a nightstick, endearingly harassed me later that night in WestCo—brought up an interesting point at the beginning of his act. He proclaimed that Wesleyan was in all respects the best school there was, and that all of us prefrosh present would be crazy not to choose Wes. I heard my own voice in his, as I had been saying things along these lines all day to the other prefrosh I met. Sarcasm began to creep into his voice as he exaggerated, blowing up his praise for Wesleyan to an absurd extent. He exclaimed, “Wow, what is this—a cult?”
Bernstein ’13, a senior and former member of Spring Fling Committee, reflects on male domination in the Wesleyan music scene—and how it can be changed.
Ally Bernstein ’13 offers a critical view on the 2013 Spring Fling lineup, weighing in on an argument that appeared in the comments section of Thursday night’s announcement post:
As I struggle to match words to my experience, I recall the last time someone wrote an article critical of the gender imbalance in the Wesleyan music scene. Avery Trufelman ’13 wrote a Wespeak in 2010 in response to our general feelings of malaise as well as an upsetting incident of sexual assault at a Titus Andronicus concert. And while she wrote it during the beginning of our sophomore year, as a senior, I wonder how much has changed. At the recent, excellent Potty Mouth concert in the WestCo Café, an overwhelmingly male audience turned out to watch four punk ladies from Northampton churn out sweetly melodic lo-fi tunes. Spring Fling Committee is 72% male. The Spring Fling lineup is 100% male. The majority of campus bands are still male.
Since the Potty Mouth show, I’ve tried to figure out why. Why don’t more female Wesleyan students attend shows, and why don’t more female Wesleyan students play shows? Why are women not engaged by what Wesleyan has to offer? In 2012 I visited a friend living in Olympia, Washington, birthplace of riot grrrl and home base of Kathleen Hanna, who spoke at Wesleyan in 2010. I attended a show at my friend’s house, and every single band out of the four that played had at least one non-male member. Many had more. Not only did these ladies kill it, but the atmosphere in the crowded living room was electric. Men and women and non-binary folks were all feeding off the positive energy of dedicated people making good music. During that trip, I sat in on some band practices where people of all genders were collaborating and sharing and just figuring things out. The attitude was infectious.
The following is a guest post by Ross Levin ’15, titled “An Open Letter to the Wesleyan Community on our Current Situation”:
During the fall semester this year, I was not on campus, but whisperings of the efforts to save need-blind admissions still reached me, through Wesleying, through friends, through maverick independent journalist Ben Doernberg ’13. I was enthralled by all the activity and excited at the prospect of joining in the movement upon returning in January. However, in early October I received a startling email. Apparently, I was being fined $50 for writing a few sentences in chalk on the University’s pavement last April. And evidently, without paying the full $50, re-enrolling at Wesleyan University wouldn’t be an option.
So I replied to the email from our Dean of Students, inquiring as to the provenance of the figure of $50. The Dean wrote back promptly, informing me of the fact that ResLife, the office of the Dean of Students, Physical Plant, and all other institutions, organizations, sub-contractors, and autonomous collectives involved in the hefty task of regulating student-committed acts of chalk against pavement, brick, concrete, and otherwise script-conducive surfaces, have at their disposal a “formula.” This formula is precise in its calculations of financial damage done by the chalk. My $50 fine, I was graciously informed, was exactly equal to, no more and no less, the cost of restoring the Wesleyan University campus to its original state, as if I had never carried out that heinous deed.
Earlier today, Molly Salafia, blogger for the Middletown Eye and town candidate for Planning & Zoning, posted a lengthy Wesleying comment questioning the effects of voter registration drives at Wesleyan and imploring student voters to keep town citizens (read: not students) in mind rather than mere party affiliation. “Please be careful when you vote,” Salafia writes. “There are real families attached to every decision you make.”
I’m not sure why Salafia chose that particular comments forum, but the discussion that ensues is well worth skimming—particularly the comment from prominent M-Town voice Ed McKeon, Democratic candidate for the Board of Education (Ed 4 Ed!) and founder of the Middletown Eye. Today McKeon sends in his own plea for informed voting, arguing that “a misused vote may be worse than a non-vote.” What follows is McKeon’s guest comment in full: “Voting with the Townies.” (Let’s continue the discussion in this comments section as well.)