So maybe you’re a freshman, nervous and overwhelmed by all the information coming at you about classes, housing, what to bring from home – and are feeling like you can’t even begin to think about bigger issues on campus. Or maybe you’re a senior and feel like you’ve gotten this far and never really involved yourself in any social/political engagement on campus, so now it’s way too late and where would you even begin if you wanted to. Wherever you might stand, activism at Wes can seem like a huge, widespread and unnavigable thing.
Thankfully, some very committed students are trying to change that sentiment and make activism within the Wesleyan world an approachable and cohesive community. This past week, the Disorientation Guide was released through the University Organizing Centersite to bring together the wide-ranging issues affecting us into one document. The entire Disorientation zine can be downloaded here, and I strongly recommend that everyone take a look at it.
After President Roth’s announcement about budget allocations, there has been a lot of talk about which aspects of our school should/can be cut and which aspects are essential to maintain the integrity of the “Wesleyan Experience.” This will be a neutral space to deeply explore difficult and personal questions about what the “Wesleyan Experience” means to us.
While you were busy sleeping off your hangover/making up an innocuous story about the “philosophical debates” you engaged in Saturday night/whatever else you needed to do to make brunch with your parents bearable, a group of need-blind activists rounded out a weekend of events with a visit to the annual Parents’ Assembly yesterday morning.
Unbeknownst to the event organizers, Peter Myers ’13was on hand to take the microphone and give a guest introduction to President Roth‘s speech, questioning the university’s commitment to transparency and appealing for an open dialogue on the issue. His points were well-received by the audience, who applauded him after his brief speech.
Yesterday, at 1:20, concerned students met to plan an action to communicate the importance of need-blind admissions to the Board of Trustees, who were on campus this weekend for an official retreat. At 6:30, the meeting was reprised, with an extra dose of urgency: “Nobody has this covered; it’s not being taken care of by someone else. It’s just us, your classmates and neighbors, and as many of you can make it.” At noon today, students gathered outside of Usdan, wearing red and finishing up a banner while some brandished cameras. By 12:30, they were in a trustees’ meeting—telling them directly that students want to be included in the conversation.
The video at the top of this post includes much of the climax of the action; after the majority of students ended up going to the Daniel Family Commons, some unfurled the aforementioned banner—reading “BRING US INTO THE CONVERSATION”—outside the meeting room, while others attempted to enter. Public Safety guarded the main entrance while students sat in the open doorway, but a small group bypassed and made it inside the meeting, where they spoke to concerns about need-blind admissions and decision-making transparency.
Watch the video yourself to form your own take on the Board members’ responses to the latest installment in, as one trustee put it, Wesleyan students’ “long and storied” history of entering closed-door meetings. Because legendary camera operator Ben Doernbeard ’13was… held up at the door, the first couple minutes of conversation with the trustees are hard to catch, but a good portion of it is audible—turn up the volume, just to be sure.
Check out photos of the action (courtesy of our very own wieb$) on Facebook, or click past the jump to see them here, along with a couple extra shots of the banner by Zach.
An enthusiastic group of 60 or so students assembled last night on Foss (many of them freshmen) to partake in the action, drawing and writing messages from Foss to the Butts. While it remains uncertain whether the chalk was swept away by rain or by the mighty arsenal of power washers that the University retains for such shenanigans, it’s clear that Wes students will not be taking the new admissions policy lying down (unless, perhaps, it involves blocking the entrance to a building).
Happy “Why is Water on Everything Outside?” Day, dear readers.
Sunday’s informational and planning meeting concerning the upcoming need blind policy changetotally happened. To briefly summarize: the meeting began with a summary of the proposed rollback and the logic behind it, and was then followed by elaborations, connections, and a range of perspectives from students involved at the end of last semester. Then things transitioned into a brainstorming phase for potential routes of action, documented using the high-tech methods seen in the photo above. Afterwards, the group hashed out loose main categories – Outreach, Media, and Direct Action – under which future work should be divvied out. Each of these groups has a couple point people charged with coordinating those areas at the moment – for their contact information, or to find out how to get involved in general, click past the jump for the full post.
If you want to know exactly what was said, you might want to try watching (or just listening to)video of the meeting, recorded by established campus beardBen Doernberg ’13. Skip to 1:20 into the first video if, for some strange reason, you don’t want to hear several dozen people recite their names in rapid succession.
If you’d prefer to just read up, click through the jump for selections from the notes dutifully taken by Campus MenaceWesleying Zach ’13, information on how to get involved, and photos of a bunch of college kids sitting around a table on a Sunday night.
Did you know that President Roth has proposed to scale back need blind admissions?
Come learn about the proposed changes to need blind policy and discuss ways to ensure the student voice is heard on the matter. The student meeting, co-sponsored by the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) and the University Organizing Center (UOC), will be this Sunday, September 2 at 9pm in Usdan 108. Open to students from all class years, the meeting will be both informational and an opportunity to plan campus activism.
Date: Sunday, September 2 Time: 9:00 pm Place: Usdan 108 Facebook event: Link
“Given the deep student concern and the significant consequences related to scaling back need blind, I see tackling this issue as my single greatest priority.”
A few weeks ago, we updated you on a post by WSA President Zach Malter ’13regarding the University’s shift towards need-aware admissions and the concern it has generated among students. Malter argued for more legitimate student input in Wesleyan’s financial decisions: he proposed forming a “Student Budget Sustainability Task Force” to identify areas for cuts and seek alternatives to cutting need-blind. The group would present its recommendations to the administration in November—and, Malter stresses, “no need-blind related decisions should be finalized until then.”
In a new more recent posting, Malter says the task force, which he suggested to President Roth’s office on June 18, will form as planned “within the first three weeks of classes.” Malter managed to speak with President Roth himself about the plan, which Malter calls his “top priority”:
I had several conversations with the President’s office and one with the President himself about the task force. President Roth is willing to work with the task force—to meet with the group, share documents, and answer questions—so they can be sufficiently informed and provide meaningful recommendations. He will also ask other administrators to cooperate. As a result, we will be moving forward with the task force, constituting the group within the first three weeks of classes.
In case you haven’t gotten enough RothNews, here’s some more! Last Friday, June 8th, President Roth wrote a book review for the New York Times on College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be, a book by Columbia University professor and 2011 National Humanities Medal recipient Andrew Delbanco. It discusses the history of American colleges and warns readers that higher education is increasingly becoming a privilege for the wealthy.
In his book, Delbanco claims that the “traditional four-year college experience—an exploratory time for students to discover their passions and test ideas and values with the help of teachers and peers—is in danger of becoming a thing of the past.” In Roth’s own words:
At a time when many are trying to reduce the college years to a training period for economic competition, Delbanco reminds readers of the ideal of democratic education.
Roth explains some aspects of this “ideal” by highlighting colleges’ original role in character formation and offering a communal learning experience to its students. In reiterating Delbanco’s points, Roth further claims that “the so-called meritocracy in admissions is increasingly an excuse for reproducing economic inequality” in today’s elite institutions.