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?
The governor received a standing ovation, at least among Democrats, when he called for background checks on all gun sales. Currently, people who purchase guns from individuals are not required to undergo background checks. But Republicans did applaud Hickenlooper when he called for strengthening the state’s mental-health system in hopes of catching would-be assailants sooner.
Left to right: Michael Bennet ’87, John Hickenlooper ’74, Peter Shumlin ’79
Some Wesleyan alumni are seriously making their ways up in the political ranks, my friends: all three of our school’s top current politicians have been nominated to lead the two official campaign organizations of the Democratic Party. SenatorMichael Bennet ’87 will be the new Chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), and Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin ’79 will lead the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) with Colorado GovernorJohn Hickenlooper ’74 as the DGA vice-chair!
The news broke earlier this afternoon and evening: Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced Bennet’s new position at today’s Democratic Caucus luncheon, stating that “Michael is one of the brightest rising stars in the Democratic Party, and he is exactly the right person to lead our efforts over the next two years.” Later on in the evening, it was announced that the DGA had elected Shumlin as their new chair, along with Hickenlooper as his side-kick. Quite the day for Wesleyan politicians indeed!
For some fun facts about Wesleyan students correcting political journalists on their research skills, look after the jump.
In case you missed it, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana usage this past Tuesday on Election Day, two examples among many progressive reforms that were approved by voters across the country. However, while many were celebrating in the streets, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper ’74 warned Coloradans from indulging in their new rights too quickly. As Fox News reported the governor saying:
“The voters have spoken and we have to respect their will,” Hickenlooper said in a statement Tuesday night. “This will be a complicated process, but we intend to follow through. That said, federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug, so don’t break out the Cheetos or gold fish too quickly.”
“As another skinny Democrat with a funny last name, I was proud to host the convention in Denver five years ago that nominated [Obama]!”
Colorado governor and 2010 Commencement speaker John Hickenlooper ’74 took the stage yesterday at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, rousing support for Obama and boasting of Colorado’s bipartisan legislative gains. Hickenlooper last appeared on the national stage in July, his voice cracking as he reeled from the shock of the Aurora shooting. That tragedy played ample part in the governor’s DNC speech, which sought to draw lessons of bipartisan support from the violence and grief:
We weren’t Democrats or Republicans in that moment. We were simply Americans trying to help one another. These tragedies remind us not to waste time bickering. We had the power to come together, and we need to do this as a nation.
Hickenlooper, who had his Wesleyan diploma “symbolicallyrevoked” last fall, also bragged about his state’s legislative record—and teased Romney for hiding his tax returns:
We’ve been able to pass vital legislation with strong bipartisan majorities. I’m luckier than President Obama. After my election, Colorado’s Republican legislators didn’t immediately start planning my defeat. . . . Some even complimented me for releasing my tax returns in the campaign!”
Governor Hickenlooper has a tough task ahead of him. If anyone knows this, it’s former Governor Bill Owens, who served during the aftermath of the Columbine Massacre. But today the current governor spoke with grace and poise, even as he acknowledged the impossibility of expressing his grief in words. Hickenlooper spoke at a press conference with other Colorado authorities, and his voice cracked as he urged citizens not to “allow people that are aberrations of nature to take away the joys and freedoms that we enjoy”:
Our hearts are broken as we think about the family and friends of the victims of this senseless tragedy. This is the act, apparently, of a very deranged mind. This is a safe city and a safe state and a safe country. And we need to recognize we can’t allow people that are aberrations of nature to take away the joys and freedoms that we enjoy. . . . There’s not one of us—certainly those of use who have children—who does not hear this story and think of that being your child in that movie theater. And that reality makes the pain and the grief too intense for words. We will come back stronger than ever from this, although it’s obviously going to be a very hard process.
The Bill Owens connection (and geographic proximity to Littleton) underscores one revelation: that what is most chilling about the tragedy is not the killer’s combat outfit or his advanced weaponry or booby-trapped apartment or even the on-scene cell phone videos spilling into news reports.
Apparently, an editor at the Middletown Press “misread a student-issued press release” (presumably from the Occupy Wesleyan group on campus); the subsequent post on their website, consisting of an “edited version of that release,” contained the error in question (later picked up by the Denver Post, which has issued no such correction).
Said oversight — specifying that President Michael Roth ’78 had personally revoked Hickenlooper’s diploma (an event that David Pesci, Wesleyan’s “director of public relations and media relations,” stated was both unheard of and, perhaps, impossible) — generated a firestorm of emails from alumni and the Governor’s office itself directed at Roth. According to Pesci, Roth “did correspond with the governor about this and assured him that it was false.”
Additionally, the Middletown Press notes:
Wesleying.org, a blog devoted to life at the university, was also quick to pick up the error, as well as the use of the erroneous information by the Denver Post, and was able to post, under the headline “Ah, journalism,” screenshots of both MiddletownPress.com and DenverPost.com before those sites were updated.
Here’s to hoping I never have to do another post about this story.
I say as much in the close of my “Occupy Wesleyan: A Retrospective” post, but since I highly doubt many of you will make it to the end, here it is again (yes, I quote myself; I’m just that meta):
An interesting case study in how a mistake can reproduce itself: the Middletown Press reported that it was the REAL MRoth who revoked Hickenlooper’s diploma–a story that was promptly picked up by the Denver Post, where it is running on the front page of the site.
Thanks to commenters “BC” and “Colorado”!
An update: the Denver Post has since altered its article to reflect the actual events.
Luckily, we have screenshots after the jump!
Update, part deux: some do-gooder has since changed Hickenlooper’s wikipedia page, citing the Middletown Press/Denver Post articles, to reflect Roth’s supposed revocation.
Again, screenshot appears after the jump.
Updat3: And, at long last, the Middletown Press story has been changed. At least they mention their correction (vs. the Denver Post, which pretends it had it right all along)…
Also, be sure to check out the respective comments sections in the above links… they’re priceless.
By now, the Occupy protests are ubiquitous enough that they have effectively stretched to all corners of the country, even reaching a town so small that the progress of the firearm deer harvest easily makes front-page news (I mean, who doesn’t need to know the effect of wind conditions on patterns of deer movement?). So why shouldn’t we get to take a part in the action (again)?
Today, at 4PM, likeminded 99%-ers and our sympathizers (come on now, we can’t ALL be the 99%) gathered on the steps of Olin for a heady 45-minute march through campus to voice our frustrations to whomever would listen–er, I mean, our corporate masters.
Hickenlooper, the popular mayor of Denver, was widely expected to coast to victory after Tancredo entered the race in July. Tancredo, the former Congressman famous for his vitriolic anti-immigration rhetoric, had demanded that both potential Republican nominees, Dan Maes and former Rep. Scott McInnis, drop out before the primary, as both had been marred by scandal, so that the party could pick a fresh nominee. But both Maes and McInnis refused, and Tancredo jumped in.