A few weeks ago, I posted a three-part post about the conditions of Wesleyan’s contracted custodial staff (which can be read here, here, and here). Shortly thereafter, the WSA and USLAC drafted a resolution to support the workers push for better custodial conditions, which passed unanimously this past Sunday. Here’s a message from USLAC about this:
On Sunday, October 13, the WSA voted unanimously to pass a USLAC resolution affirming that subcontracted workers are part of the Wesleyan community. The Wesleyan student body demands that Wesleyan create and adhere to our own ethical standards for subcontracted workers. No longer will we look to peer institutions or industry standards to dictate the working conditions in our community.
The resolution encourages the administration to amend their contract with Sun Services and expand the custodial work force by five full-time positions. This will entail the promotion of temporary staff to the status of full-time staff and the creation of an additional full-time position. This and other demands are detailed in the resolution. To read the full content, click here.
Have thoughts about recent incidents involving P-Safe? Head to the Daniel Family Commons right now.
As ehc reported less than half an hour ago, two Public Safety officers have just been reported and fired for apparently viewing and possibly videotaping a female student in her residence. This follows on a long chain of recent incidents involving and sparking tensions between students and Public Safety officers this academic year.
Meanwhile, the administration has hired a University Public Safety Review Committee for an independent review of P-Safe at Wesleyan. According to a recent email from Vice President for Finance and Administration John Meerts, “The assessment will explore whether the Office of Public Safety has adopted and implemented an appropriate campus public safety model, based on our environment and campus expectations.” The reviewer is Margolis Healy, a “nationally reputable firm that specializes in campus safety and security” that has “provided similar services for dozens of other universities and colleges throughout North America.”
If you’re a Wesleyan student, “you are cordially invited to meet with Margolis Healy representatives to share any thoughts or questions you might have about Public Safety at Wesleyan in an open student session to be held on April 30 from 7–8 p.m. in the Daniel Family Commons in the Usdan Center.” You read correctly: that’s happening right now. Talk about timing. In case you can’t make it, Lesanjuan, Solomon, and I will be liveblogging the proceedings. Click past the jump.
Yesterday, John Meerts, Wesleyan’s VP for Finance and Administration, sent an all-campus email with some sobering news, informing the community that an officer with Wesleyan’s Public Safety Department had been arrested for theft.
I spoke with Dave Meyer, Director of Public Safety, yesterday afternoon to clarify the situation, though our conversation was limited by the ongoing criminal investigation.
Meyer reported that he received information before Christmas regarding the thefts. Coordinating with the Middletown Police Department, Wesleyan began an investigation within two days that resulted in the recovery of a number of stolen items, at which point Wesleyan again contacted the police to have the individual arrested. The stolen items themselves—reported to be electronics and cameras—have so far consisted solely of administrative equipment, though there is the possibility that student property may be among the as-yet-unidentified possessions.
Declining to discuss the particulars of the tip or the discovery of the stolen material, Meyer stated that though the investigation was conducted internally, the school worked closely with the police department throughout.
If you’ve kept abreast of (student reactions to) recent happenings in Wesleyan administration – the planned closing of the Art Library, the course load increase for visiting faculty, rising tuition, and beyond – you may be wondering if any kind of follow-up with the wider community is underway. Turns out the WSA has been working to organize a formal venue for a discussion about Wesleyan’s current and impending financial issues, coming out of ongoing discussions with administrators, work by campus activists, and [third thing]. Here’s the email you should have gotten from Evan Weber ’13:
Concerned about rising tuition and the affordability of Wesleyan? Have suggestions concerning Wesleyan’s financial aid? Interested in expressing your budget priorities (i.e. the things here that you’d like to see preserved and the things worth cutting)?
Come to an open meeting on the Future of Wesleyan’s Affordability.
President Roth, Vice President for Finance and Administration John Meerts, and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Nancy Meislahn will attend, present their thoughts, and be available to answer questions.
The meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 24th at 7pm in Usdan 108.
If you have any related questions in advance of the meeting or would like to ensure that questions you ask have a response, please e-mail the WSA at wsa[at]wesleyan[dot]edu and we will forward questions to the administration.
Upon hearing about some questionable labor rights issues raised during the blackout, a group of concerned students organized to address both immediate and long-term, systemic issues highlighted by this emergency. They discussed these issues (lack of childcare for staff, lack of transparency in addressing the emergency, etc.) during the blackout amongst themselves and with staff. They then issued a Call to Action addressed to the Wesleyan administration, linked here. I was a part of this student initiative, and yesterday a response was sent from John Meerts, VP of Finance and Administration, to the “Call to Action” (read the full letter by clicking the image below). As a student, this response has left me feeling disrespected and disappointed.
Two weeks after the deadline, conveniently timed during Reading Week when students are already overwhelmed and soon-to-be-gone for over a month, an email response was sent to Marj Dodson ’13 and Virgil Taylor ’15 displaying the administration’s knack at saying very little in a whole page of words. While I appreciate that a response was sent, I wanted to share this letter with you “students,” to whom it is addressed, along with a few of my thoughts. As a member of this community, I encourage you to take up John Meerts on his offer to receive “constructive suggestions” by emailing him directly. Conversely, as has been stated on multiple student listservs, you can have a voice in a collaborative response by emailing octoberblackout(at)gmail(dot)com.
My thoughts and questions:
- The 4 “calls to action” were not directly addressed.
- Who was and wasn’t included in the meeting between “staff groups” and why isn’t that even addressed in this letter?
- What were the results of this meeting? What plan exists now that didn’t exist before? How can members of the Wesleyan community access this “robust” plan?
- Why is the administration skirting around the issues? In such a small, inclusive community, why must interested parties (including students) be kept in the dark when they are interested in contributing to the dialogue?
- The Wesleyan administration is not an inherently evil organization, and I would love it if students and the administration had a more mutually respectful relationship. The administration’s decisions are supposed to reflect the needs of the community, so why haven’t a diverse range of voices with a stake in the process been included in a substantial way?
Ezra Silk ’10 was inspired by our earlier post about Michael Roth’s salary to do a little digging through other people’s tax returns and provide us with some interesting research on faculty compensation. Thanks Ezra. Check out his article in the Blargus. Highlights include:
Thomas Kannam, VP & Chief Investment Officer: $460, 610
Barbara Jan Wilson, VP President for University Relations: $260, 334
John Meerts, VP for Finance and Administration: $240, 060
Jeanine Basinger, Chair of the Film Studies Department: $213,420
Many of those who commented on our earlier post bemoaned the fact that many of our program budgets have been cut while our president is paid so much money. Just to clarify the discussion, we are working on compiling a list of the programs whose budgets have been cut. (Any help in this effort would be appreciated.)