I really don’t think there’s “nothing amiss.”
Yesterday, President Michael S. Roth posted about the revelation that former Associate Dean of Students Scott Backer had been fired from Vermont Academy in 2007 for sexual harassment and misconduct, as exposed in a Boston Globe article published Saturday night. Then, this afternoon, he sent out an email announcement to all members of the Wesleyan campus community realizing that he had never apologized for the situation.
With a subject line reading “An Apology,” Roth’s email expressed guilt and a feeling of responsibility for Backer’s presence at Wesleyan, but both in his original blog post and in his subsequent email, it’s obvious Roth hasn’t really been listening to what students, faculty, staff, and alumni have been saying (or read our editorial).
Almost hilariously, he limits the scope of our outrage simply to Backer’s initial hiring in 2007 and to his leadership position in university misconduct proceedings, ignoring community concerns about administrative opacity, inefficacy, and general shadiness. So I have some stuff to say about his blog post and so-called “apology.”
we weren’t sure what picture of roth to use so here is an older one from 2009 that we dug out of our media archive. this is just a placeholder until i take a picture of the actual setup in the chapel, okay
Dasha, astag_rocky, and I are here in the Memorial Chapel for the first annual State of the School address! This is mostly a production of the Wesleyan Student Assembly, but we are co-sponsoring it with The Ankh and The Argus.
The format is as follows: the WSA will have a five-minute introduction, then Pres. Michael Roth will speak freely for 20 minutes. The following hour is all Q&A, with the questions having been submitted throughout the past week. After Q&A, the moderators will offer final thoughts and encourage you to eat ice cream and attend the following student-only debrief, which will happen from 9:30-10:30. Out of respect for its student-only nature as well as its role as a safe space, we won’t be liveblogging the debrief.
Tonight’s address will be moderated by Henry Vansant ’18 from the WSA, Hailey Broughton-Jones ’18 from The Ankh, and Jess Zalph ’16 from The Argus. There will be paper in the chapel for people who have questions in real time and members of the WSA will also be monitoring their twitter (@wsanews) for any relevant and pressing questions.
If you still have questions when this event and this liveblog are over, the WSA will also be sending out a form for you to submit questions to the Board of Trustees, who meet on campus this weekend. We’ll keep this post updated with info about that as we get it.
Beginning this semester, Wesleying will hold semi-regular meetings with President Michael Roth to ask all the questions about Wesleyan University that we have wanted, but never previously had the chance, to ask him. We have quite a bit of catching up to do. As Thursday, Nov. 20 was the first of these meetings, editors Samira, kitab, and Gabe, with input from Wesleying staff, used our time to ask a variety of questions about relevant issues from the past few years. As per their request, we informed the President’s Office beforehand on the general topics we wished to cover.
Our half-hour conversation, which we are posting here in its entirety, covers sexual assault procedure, coeducation of residential fraternities, fundraising, the endowment, need-blind admissions, and academic programs. This interview was edited for clarity.
Video from the event is here.
Last night, hundreds (by my count, 400+) students, faculty, and staff piled into Beckham Hall for what became an over-three-hour long panel/discussion on issues of diversity and community at Wesleyan. By the end, as the clock approached 11:00 PM, there were still at least 200 attendees remaining. By all accounts, the forum was an immensely powerful and public out-letting of emotion and outrage at our community’s collective failings to address intense ruptures in Wesleyan’s identity as “Diversity University.”
Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Sonia Manjon moderated the discussion, leading a panel that included President Michael Roth ’78, Director of Public Safety Dave Meyer, students Jalen Alexander ’14, Dorisol Inoa ’13, Chantaneice Kitt ’13, and Evan Okun ’13, Professor Alex Dupuy and Professor Elizabeth McAlister. The original intent of the forum was to address diversity in light of recent events, most notably hateful and racist comments on the ACB after Homecoming Weekend, the use of race in Public Safety reports, and allegations of unnecessary use of force by Public Safety, but the conversation touched on many, many more areas of community dysfunction.
There were a few things that were made amply clear to everybody last night, if they weren’t clear already: