A NYT photo of a Stanford party from outside.
Wesleyan is no stranger to out-of-touch New York Times journalists writing about ~campus life~. In March of 2015, Tatiana Schlossberg (JFK’s granddaughter) wrote an absurd piece about trying to investigate the drug scene at Wesleyan. In 2003, now-fancy-and-serious NYT Correspondent Neil MacFarquhar wrote a piece on WestCo, “The Naked Dorm,” about “how one well-choreographed rite of passage from high school to college life went unexpectedly awry.” In 2007, bizarrely, they also published a fashion shoot of Wesleyan students wearing designer clothes.
While Wesleyan has mostly avoided coverage this fall (though MRoth hasn’t), today the NYT is at it again, with a simultaneously laughable and unsettling piece about responses to college drinking and sexual assault across the country. While both alcohol consumption and especially sexual violence on campuses (and elsewhere) is indeed a big deal, journalistic coverage of these phenomena tends to be stilted and ridiculous. Much can probably be said about this coverage, and how it fits in to broader patterns of cultural representations of college students. For now, though, I’ll let the article speak for itself, after the jump:
In the midst of reading period, President Roth printed a message to students around the country, and especially those that take his classes, in the Sunday edition of the New York Times.
The article focused on the fact that in many classes, students are often quick to criticize authors and point out seeming contradictions while missing the point of the piece as a whole. As Roth explains:
In campus cultures where being smart means being a critical unmasker, students may become too good at showing how things can’t possibly make sense. They may close themselves off from their potential to find or create meaning and direction from the books, music and experiments they encounter in the classroom.
To criticize this piece would be an ironic twist of fate. However, shunning insightful criticism is not Roth’s point either. It is fair to criticize the author, Roth explains, so long as it is taken in the context of the piece as a whole.
“[Fox Searchlight Pictures] received the benefits of their unpaid work, which otherwise would have required paid employees.” – Judge William H. Pauley III on the suit brought against Fox by Eric Glatt ’91 (below) and Alex Footman ’09
In September 2011, we posted about two Wesleyan alumni, Alex Footman ’09 and Eric Glatt ’91 who brought a class-action lawsuit against Fox Searchlight Pictures. The two argued that, when they interned on the set of Black Swan, they performed menial tasks exclusively that had no educational value. By law, unpaid internships must provide some sort of educational experience and cannot simply be used to replace paid employees with unpaid labor. The two interns argued that they had not received the educational experience they should have gotten from the experience.
Just recently, Federal District Court Judge William H. Pauley III ruled that, as Fox Searchlight Pictures treated the workers as if they were regular paid employees and did not provide any sort of educational value to the internship, the interns should have been paid. The judge explained his logic to The Hollywood Reporter:
Joss Whedon ’86 won’t be the most controversial honorary degree recipient at Commencement this May.
A recent New York Times article, Hero of the Bronx is Now Accused of Betraying It, details the rise of our very own (and this year’s lesser-publicized Honorary Degree recipient) Majora Carter ’88. Carter founded the program Sustainable South Bronx, supporting local food production and urban revitalization in the South Bronx. Now she is consulting for corporations like FreshDirect, which has recently occupied a huge lot in the South Bronx, but serves clients mostly in Manhattan and none in the neighborhood around it. That’s not to mention the $500 fee Carter reportedly charges for initial consultations. Journalist Winnie Hu gives the overview:
Ms. Carter’s meteoric rise also made her a polarizing figure. Many former allies and neighbors say that Ms. Carter trades on the credibility she built in the Bronx, while no longer representing its interests. They say she has capitalized on past good deeds in the way that politicians parlay their contacts into a lobbying career, or government regulators are hired by the companies they once covered.
“You can’t have it both ways,” said Eddie Bautista, executive director of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance. “Either you’re an honest broker and accountable to the community, or you’re working for a business interest and accountable to that.”
Carter is accused of betraying her ideals and becoming a fallen hero of sorts. (When Wesleying tweeted out a link to the article, South Bronx Unite and other critical parties were quick to weigh in on the situation as it’s perceived. Carter herself briefly joined in with a YouTube dedication of her own.) Some fellow alumni are making the connection to Wes:
I googled “college admissions stock photo” and this is what came up. Can you dig it?
It’s been a rather turbulent few days for Wesleyan in the news, so here’s some positive news for a change. According to the New York Times’ The Choice blog (which has been surging along since the recent departure of its dear leader/resident Wesleyan hound Jacques Steinberg), total applications to Wesleyan rose by 4.18% for a total of 10,942 applicants for fall 2013. Since we’re all suckers for a good comparison chart, here’s how that stacks up with a few peer institutions:
It’s a comfortable leap (and eerily close to last year’s 4.5% rise in applications), but it’s nothing compared to Skidmore’s freakish 42% rise in applications.
The New York Times Magazine’s “The Lives They Lived” issue features a stirring tribute to Alex Okrent ’05, the Wesleyan alumnus who collapsed and died last July at the Obama headquarters, where he worked, in Chicago. The cause of death was later determined to be cardiac arrhythmia. Okrent, 29, was a College of Social Studies major at Wes, and his passing inspired expressions of condolences from both candidates that day in July:
As journalist Mark Leibovich tells it, Okrent was on board with the Obama cause well before the senator even announced his candidacy in 2007—he took off a semester off from Wesleyan in 2004 to work on Obama’s Senate campaign. Between organizing a campaign book club and dressing up as Tobias Fünke on Halloween in Iowa, Okrent was “demanding, fun and irreverent,” Leibovich writes. “And he was never shy about telling people that he loved them.”
What’s the Twittersphere saying about the Times piece? Click past the jump.
A weekend New York Times article covers Wesleyan’s change in admissions policy, giving a national and international platform to some of the activism surrounding need blind here on campus. With little communication to the alumni and larger Wesleyan community about the recent change in admissions policy, for many alums this could be the first they hear of the policy shift, a topic we’ve been abuzz with for months. Not only did my mom text me this morning to check the article out, but other people are wildly sharing it, too: it is listed in the top-emailed articles on the NYT website, and the tweeting world is hot on the topic.
The article cites financial instability as threatening diversity at small elite colleges, specifically Wesleyan and Grinnell. Small schools like our own have been steadily raising tuition, while families are increasingly unable to meet rising costs in a weak economy. Richard Perez-Pena writes,
As a result, more students need financial aid than did a few years ago, they need much more of it on average, and colleges have fewer resources with which to provide it, though a major expansion of the federal Pell Grant program has made up some of the difference.
Wesleyan is described as having “had the most heated recent debate.” Disappointingly, then, no students are quoted in the piece, but President Roth gives a shout out to student activism, saying “I applaud the students’ commitment to our values,” and adds, “I did not think that the economic model we were using would be sustainable in even the midterm, over the next decade.” This is out of character given his recent confrontations with chalking Wesleyan students and Nemo Allen ’12 from Democracy Now!. Links in the NYT article direct readers to two Argus articles about student activism surrounding the barge-in at the Trustee meeting and protest at the Homecoming football game. Additional coverage here and here. Added to this semester’s memorably heated moments—but unmentioned in the Times—are the artistic chalk bomb, Alumni letter asking to withhold alumni donations, and parent assembly infiltrations.
“Farming appeals to me, and probably to other people, because it’s simple and straightforward work outdoors with literal fruits from your labor,” Abe Bobman ’11 said. “It doesn’t feel like you’re a part of an oppressive institution.”
Yesterday, the New York Times published a piece about the growing trend among young college graduates to pursue the age-old profession of farming. Two Wesleyan alumni, Abe Bobman ’11 and Jordan Schmidt ’08, are featured, along with a number of other Northeastern liberal arts college graduates.
The article sets the tone at the beginning with an image of well-educated young people who, moved by their ideals and values, have chosen to work the land from dawn to dusk, “elbow deep in soil for $10 an hour.” It focuses on young farmers on two small organic New York farms and makes a point of emphasizing that none of these young graduate farmers come from farming backgrounds. Through snippets of these farmers’ mishaps and misadventures and statements of how their parents feel about their profession, the article looks into the issues of coming to agriculture from a well-educated, non-farming background.
“The female body may not be able to shut down conception, but we can at least shut down Akin’s wild claims.”
If you study at a liberal arts college like Wesleyan, you’ve probably already recoiled in disgust at Representative Todd Akin’s comments last week regarding pregnancy and rape.
But if you teach history and science in society at a small liberal arts college like Wesleyan, you’ve probably already
unpacked analyzed the decidedly medieval roots and implications of Representative Todd Akin’s curiously antiquated theories of pregnancy and rape. You may have even gotten the New York Times to publish it as an op-ed.
Enter Professor Jennifer Tucker, who smartly pointed out last week that Todd Akin’s views of rape are in fact quite consistent with science—as long as you’re living in 12th century Germany. Akin, of course, suggested that women are unlikely to become pregnant from rape, because “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Turns out this view is intriguingly consistent with what was preached by Hildegard of Bingen in the 12th century:
“I think the secret to our success is that we don’t think too much about the future.”
If, like me, you’re graduating in less than a year and, like me, you’re not entirely thrilled about the subsequent “growing up” trajectory, feast your cursor upon a new kingdom: “Fortress Astoria.”
Last week, the New York Times’ Hilary Howard devoted a fascinating and (I hate this word) charming feature piece to four best friends who are also roommates: Danaher Dempsey, Luke Crane, Rick Brown and Shyaporn Theerakulstit. They met as students at NYU. Through a role-playing group. (Not the same group that always steals my table at Think Coffee, I hope.) In 1991. Which means they’re all pushing 40.
Which means they’ve been living together, as bachelors—or “roommates,” if you will—for over 18 years. And while their story doesn’t pertain to Wesleyan in any direct way, it is a fascinating portrait that certainly pertains to college life in general, the transition into the Great Beyond, and why sociologists now say post-college life no longer has to suck. Read on if you care.