“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?
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. Senator Michael 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 Governor John 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.
Happy Day-Before-Decoration Day, all. Hopefully those of you recently anointed with a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctorate are too busy avoiding goodbyes (from the awkward anticlimaxes to the drunken and dramatic) to read this post in a timely manner. As for the rest of you…
Wesleying – which has always aspired to be a forum for student voices, controversial and not – presents you with some thoughts on Commencement speaker Michael Bennet ’87 and his record as a Democratic U.S. Senator from Colorado, written by Dan Fischer ‘11.5. (If you’re looking for the full roundup, rest easy – it’s on the way.) Readers might find Dan’s observations interesting, especially in light of Bennet’s comments on the domination of narrow interests in Washington and the need for “disruptive” and “transformative” change in politics and education (click here for a transcript of Bennet’s speech). Feel free to put out your own thoughts in the comments, or in chalk in front of Obama Hill. Without further ado:
Today, Senator Michael Bennet delivered the commencement address. Roth describes him as “a pragmatic and independent thinker who embodies the values of the western state he represents, and whose work has contributed to good in the world”. I decided to do a little research and found that Bennet, as you would expect of a U.S. Senator, has also contributed to a lot of war-mongering, neoliberalization and power-concentration in the world.
The moment we’ve all been waiting for is in. Michael Bennet ’87 will be this year’s commencement speaker (save the date: May 27). The announcement isn’t such a huge surprise since Wesleyan seems to like bringing politicians and alumni to commencement, and
Hickenlooper Bennet satisfies both criteria. Artist Glenn Ligon ’82 and Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards P’13 will also be receiving honorary degrees.
Bennet graduated with a bachelors in history from Wesleyan, but that’s not his only connection: his father, Douglas Bennet, was President of the university from 1995 to 2007 (Roth’s immediate predecessor). His official biography can be found after the jump, and stresses his interest in education and America’s youth as a whole. In relation to past commencement speakers, Wikipedia notes that Bennet advised 2008 speaker Barack Obama on education and was even speculated for the Secretary of Education spot. Bennet also formerly served as 2010 speaker John Hickenlooper’s Chief of Staff.
Tickets will go on sale at 10AM at the Box Office on Thursday, so get your sleeping bags and port-a-potties ready. You might also care to know that Bennet is a co-sponsor of PIPA, so you can always argue with him if you didn’t get a Scalia ticket.
Props to anyone who replied to the email asking who we’re getting for Spring Fling, but direct that towards the Spring Fling Committee. Here’s the full email itself:
An update from last night’s post: Senator Michael Bennet ’87, of Colorado, will indeed be holding onto his senate seat, trumping Republican opponent Ken Buck in one of the nation’s closest races. Bennet responds:
I am grateful to the the thousands of Coloradans who made this victory possible, who gave so much to our campaign, knocking on doors, making calls, and working tirelessly to ensure we leave more opportunity to the next generation. Yesterday, Colorado chose to move our state and this country forward. I will do everything I can to live up to the confidence you have placed in me.
Full story at The Denver Post. And in case you haven’t been following closely, Wesleyan alumni now hold Colorado and Vermont governorships and a Colorado senate seat—not the Connecticut governorship, as an anonymous shout-boxer faultily reports.
It’s official! Last week, Michael Bennet ’87, son of former Wesleyan President Douglas Bennet ’59, was appointed to the Senate. Bennet takes over for Senator Ken Salazar who is now Obama’s Interior Secretary.
In a recent Washington Post article, Bennet reflects on his father’s influence.
“He said find things that interest you, that compel you, and when it’s time to move on, something else will present itself,” Bennet said. “In the end, it doesn’t matter what job a person ends up in if it’s an opportunity to make a difference.”
Many sources close to Governor Bill Ritter have confirmed that Denver School Superintendent Michael Bennet ’87 is expected to be selected as the next Senator from Colorado. He was considered a longshot for the job by many; John Hickenlooper ’74, Ed Perlmutter, and Mike Miles were some of the other frontrunners.
In fact, Bennet served as Hickenlooper’s chief of staff while he was mayor of Denver, before he became Superintendent of Schools. Michael Bennet had formerly been considered a possibility for Obama’s Secretary of Education, but that choice went to Arne Duncan. Bennet was at least back to visit Wesleyan in 2006, where he gave a Weseminar called “The Education Race.”
Michael Bennet is also the son of our university’s last President, Doug Bennet.
Read up about Michael Bennet and his selection for the position of Senator:
A fun story from 2003 about the relationship between Bennet and Hickenlooper
Congrats, Michael Bennet! We’re proud of you.