In perhaps the most momentous chapter of a saga dating back to the Fall of 2014, the Wesleyan chapter of DKE (Delta Kappa Epsilon) has just won another huge victory in its lawsuit against the university.
Just before 6PM today, President Roth sent out yet another email with the subject line reading “Campus Update.” This time, it was to inform us that a judge ruled that Wesleyan must allow DKE access to 276 High Street at the start of the Fall 2018. Three classes of students have never set foot in the fraternity, located directly across the street from President Roth’s house, but it may soon be open to undergraduates once more.
Wesleyan plans to file an appeal, but the exact path forward remains shrouded in mystery as of this evening. Read past the jump for the full email, and our key takeaways.
You have worked, implicitly and explicitly, directly and indirectly, to make Wesleyan a hostile environment for people of color, students with disabilities, trans students, survivors of sexual assault and pretty much any student who does not fit into your image of the “conservative oppressed by the liberal arts.” What’s more, you have repeatedly refused to engage with students in any meaningful way about the ways in which you’ve created this hostile environment. So I have resorted to engaging with you on your own terms: in a blog post.
WesFest is next week, Zonker Harris Day is a week away, and it is going to be 77 degrees on Tuesday. We find ourselves on the eve of a jubilant week likely to be filled with prefrosh excitement and springtime joy. While I am very excited for what is to come, I must say that there is occasion to celebrate right here, right now!
Today is President Michael S. Roth ’78‘s 60th birthday! President Roth has led and continues to lead a very colorful life more than worthy of celebration. According to this Wesleying post, President Roth is the founder of hemp activism, and the father to Philip Roth, Winston Churchill, and Kanye West. It’s important that we all take a brief second to reflect on the intellectual gravitas and romantic zeal that Michael embodies on the daily. To me, this is most poignantly seen in this video of President Roth at the 20th anniversary celebration of the Freeman Asian Scholars Program.
Okay, now that that brief second is up, take a look at how the rest of the internet is responding to President Roth’s birthday:
At around 1:45pm today, the Chair of the Board of Trustees Donna Morea ’76 sent out an all-campus email announcing the extension of President Michael Roth‘s contract. He will continue to remain President of the University through 2023.
Morea’s email highlighted the success of Roth’s “This Is Why” fundraising campaign; his launch of multiple academic programs during his nearly decade-long run as President; and his future plans for the “Beyond 2020” initiative (although the email doesn’t go into much detail on this front). It makes no mention of the fact that last October, over 200 students called for the removal of President Roth and Vice President of Equity & Inclusion Antonio Farias in a town hall.
Here is the full email text:
I sometimes really wished I watched cable news. You know, among a life of reading, work, class, essays, and more at a Liberal University™, I feel like I somehow miss out on the rather illuminating shows on channels like Fox News. For anyone who might not know, Fox News is that one cable news channel that employs an anchor that declares that, you know, poverty isn’t all that bad because poor people have fridges. It is also the cable news channel that was founded and run by a sexual predator for 20 years. I am so checked out from the channel that I don’t notice when Evil Presidents of Liberal Universities™ are featured as guests (fodder for conservative viewers sitting on their couch in South Carolina eating spaghetti-o’s?).
Over the past few weeks, students have been calling for the removal of President Roth and Dean Antonio Farias. This afternoon, Roth sent an all-campus email with subject line “Campus Update,” asking hard-hitting questions like, “What can we do? What will the administration do?” and seeming to once again expect students to provide him with answers. The email makes no mention of calls for his removal, but does identify three areas of concern: transparency, Title IX processes, and the results of the Equity task force created last spring in response to the IsThisWhy campaign. He calls for more student input on each topic, because the administration can “only do so much.”
Many survivors have been expressing their pain with strength and eloquence, and Roth apparently acknowledges that. His response, however, is yet another call for others to take on much of the work necessary, work that will somehow, inexplicably, lead to “real results.” Full text of the email can be found after the jump.
If you are a current student and were around campus at all yesterday, you likely saw hundreds of posters in Exley, a performance installation outside of North College, and/or the interruption of campus tours.
The multitude of actions occurring yesterday came in concert with October Open House, a yearly event put together by the Office of Admission. Yesterday’s open house (and the next one on November 11th) comes prior to Wesleyan’s November 15th deadline for Early Decision I, and is intended to give prospective students a more in-depth view of Wesleyan life than the normal Admissions programming.
A number of students have been organizing in response to conversations that happened at last week’s WhoRunsWes town hall, where more than 200 students reached a consensus to push for the removal of Antonio Farias and Michael Roth from their positions at the University. The intent of these actions was to highlight administrative failures, disrupt the Wesleyan brand, and make visible the pain students have experienced due to the institution’s shortcomings.
Read past the jump for more on what transpired, images and a video from today’s actions.
“You have no obligation to protect Scott Backer’s reputation. You instead have an obligation to support our community’s uncountable survivors, and they deserve to know the character of the man who judged one of their most painful experiences. They deserve to know, from you, how Wesleyan intends to do better.”
Roth at a forum on need-blind admissions in November 2012.
The following is an open letter from Andrew Trexler ’14 to university president Michael S. Roth in the wake of campus turmoil caused by recently released information about the firing of former Associate Dean of Students Scott Backer. The views reflected here are the writer’s own.
Michael et al.,
Wesleyan assures us that nationally recognized auditors “found nothing amiss” in Scott Backer’s handling of student conduct and sexual misconduct hearings. Although I am skeptical that Pepper Hamilton was able to thoroughly review years of case files in so short a time, this report is not unexpected. The reality is that the national standards for campus adjudication of sexual misconduct are, in the most delicate terms I can accurately put them, very very fucked. It is therefore no surprise at all to learn that Scott Backer’s handling of these cases meets national standards.
The truth of the matter is that the flaws I witnessed firsthand in three years as a process advisor for students and survivors—constant victim-blaming, hostile questioning practices, inconsistent training of panelists, acceptance of character witnesses, to name a few—would not, I suspect, be of interest to Pepper Hamilton. They were not of interest to Wesleyan’s Title IX Officer when I raised them at the time. The “checks and balances” and sparse appeals system are no help to a survivor who’s told her rapist gets to stay on campus because she was wearing a pretty dress that night and his buddy says he’s a good guy.
c/o Abby Cunniff ’17
Last night, at the town hall entitled “WhoRunsWes: An open town hall about community events,” approximately 200 students and several professors gathered in the Daniel Family Commons to discuss the recent news surrounding the firing of Scott Backer.
President Michael S. Roth ’78 is back in the Memorial Chapel tonight for the second annual State of the School Address, organized by the WSA in conjunction with the Ankh and the Argus. At 8 PM, Wesleyan’s own pioneer of liberal education will answer questions submitted by current students, and all of these questions will subsequently be passed on to the Board of Trustees to be discussed at their next meeting.
Last year’s address was the first time the WSA had done anything like this. Enacted by last year’s President Kate Cullen ’16 and VP Aidan Martinez ’17, the annual event was established in order to promote and facilitate transparent discussion between students and the administration. As described by the WSA:
The intention of this event is to provide students the opportunity to speak face-to-face with President Roth, ask meaningful questions and hear his reasoning behind major decisions. Through organizing this dialogue, the WSA strives to raise the student voice in administrative decisions and inform President Roth on how to make better decisions to meet our needs as students.
Naturally, we’ll be liveblogging. The structure is as follows:
- Introduction by the WSA (5 minutes) — intention, history of creation, explanation of purpose
- President Roth’s monologue-type address (20 minutes)
- Question and answer section (1 hour)
- Closing remarks (5 minutes)
A student-only debrief will be held afterward in the Zelnick Pavilion from 9:30-10:30. Click through for our liveblog of the address: