Tag Archives: professors

Wesleyan Community Demands a Staff Position Dedicated to Sexual Violence

The following is also published as a Wespeak in today’s Argus. Keep an eye out for a response from the administration:

The one-year anniversary of Johanna Justin-Jinich’s murder is fast approaching. This Thursday, May 6th will mark for the Wesleyan community one year that has passed since we lost Johanna in what was undeniably one of the most horrific acts of violence this campus has, and ever will, experience. Her murder was a hate crime, a ruthless act of gender violence and anti-Semitism.

Gender violence is a persistent problem on this campus, as was once again brought to the fore by the recent Wespeaks written by students who have been sexually assaulted at Wesleyan, as well as those written by staff and students calling for greater administrative accountability to issues of gender violence prevention and response. Additionally, at the forum on campus violence on Tuesday, April 27th, students, staff, and alumni came together to discuss possible improvements to Wesleyan resources.

Students have been working with the university for years to improve University policy, response, and prevention around issues of sexual and gender violence on campus but still have found little sustained administrative support. The only way more effective resources, policies, and prevention efforts can be put into place is to establish a full-time staff position that would be responsible for advocating on behalf of survivors of sexual and gender violence, heading sustained prevention efforts, and helping all members of the Wesleyan community work together to build a campus that is safe for everyone. Safety means a community in which everyone is accountable for creating an environment that promotes respect, consent, critical thinking, and sex-positivity.

Persistent student pressure on the administration resulted in the creation of the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) Intern, but this position alone cannot adequately address a campus climate of gender violence. The intense responsibilities of the position are too demanding for any one student to carry out effectively. Although there are various support systems in place for students (i.e. the faculty/staff on SART & OBHS), it is unfair and unsustainable that the only person on campus who is paid to be specifically knowledgeable about sexual assault and gender violence is a ten hour per week student position that isn’t even written into a specific departmental budget. The Intern position currently gets its funding through the SBC.

The University has a responsibility to invest in a staff position which would allow us to address this pervasive violence. This isn’t a question of available funding, but a question of priorities. Comparable schools such as Barnard, Amherst, Trinity, Bates, Bard, Skidmore, Bowdoin, Colorado College, Lewis and Clark, Whitman, and Brown have invested in at least one staff position, and it’s time for Wesleyan to follow suit.

The above document circulated via the internet for only three days and, in that time, received formal support from 536 members of the Wesleyan community: 405 students, 47 alum, 37 parents/family members, and 27 members of the Wesleyan faculty/staff.

*CANCELLED* Counterterrorism research lecture at ADP

Cancelled until later date:

Max Rodriguez ’10 sends word of a lecture tomorrow at ADP:

Professor Erica Chenoweth will be speaking at Alpha Delta Phi about her research project on counterterrorism, and the use of new technologies to measure, analyze, and understand it.

Professor Erica Chenoweth is an Associate Professor of Government at Wesleyan. She is also the director of Wesleyan’s Program on Terrorism and Insurgency Research. This will be an exciting and informative lecture about research that is being done right here at Wesleyan by our own students and professors.

: 3/23
Time: 4 PM
Place: ADP Greene Room

Sponsored by the Adelphic Educational Fund

A Request to Diversify Wesleyan’s Faculty

melanye-priceA group of students have drafted an open letter about the under-representation of faculty of color at Wesleyan, largely in response to the recent denial of tenure to Government Professor Melanye Price, but also questioning the University’s apparent lack of commitment to hiring and retaining Black and Latino/a faculty members.

It should be appearing as a Wespeak in the Argus today, but here’s the full letter – read the whole thing after the jump. What do you think?

Diversify the Faculty of “Diversity University!”

At a recent meeting for student of color leaders, President Roth asked, “How can Wesleyan help students of color? What are the important issues?” After much discussion and careful reflection, we have come to the conclusion that Wesleyan needs to make a sincere commitment to recruiting, mentoring, and retaining faculty of color, more specifically Black and Latino/a faculty members.

The university website states that 17% of Wesleyan’s faculty members are “persons of color,” roughly 62 full and part time faculty members of a total 356. Question, where are they? Better yet, can you name them? This number is misleading, as this statistic most likely includes recently retired faculty members and professors of international origin who may not identify themselves as people of color.

Furthermore, faculty of color tend to be concentrated in certain academic departments or programs such as Anthropology and African-American Studies while some have no professors of color at all. For instance, there are no Black and Latino/a faculty members in the natural sciences, Art History, Art Studio, CSS, or Film, just to name a few. Why is that?

Aside from the Office of Affirmative Action and the Office of Diversity and Strategic Partnerships, we have been hard-pressed to find institutional efforts to redress the lack of racial diversity in many academic departments and programs at Wesleyan.

Although there have been individuals who have tried to address these critical issues, they have frequently found themselves exhausted because of the dearth of institutional support. An important situation—right now—is the case of Assistant Professor Melanye Price of the Government Department.

This semester, many students were surprised to hear that Professor Melanye Price was not granted tenure. Though shocking, this decision is indicative of the Government Department’s dedication (or lack thereof) to retaining faculty of color.

Jazz Night @ ADP

Tonight, in ADP, there will be a Jazz Night. I’d describe it, but

I’m happy to report that the first concert will do its part to reverse continental drift, combining the drumset magic of Wes drum teacher and sometimes Jazz Ensemble director Pheeroan Aklaff with the 10 ten able fingers of David Nelson, our resident Solkattu and South Indian Percussion teacher (he’ll be playing mridangam). They’ll be joined by Hartford resident Mixashawn, who draws on everything from free-jazz to Native American music in his saxophone and flute playing and singing.

WHERE: Living Room/Foyer of ADP
DATE: Today, Thursday, Feb 19
WHEN: 7pm.
COST: Free

Sponsored by the Adelphic Educational Fund and the WSA.

(Via Aural Wes and Nick Field ’09)

Things could be worse…

Much has been made of the administration’s proposal to institute a one-year salary freeze for professors, staff, and librarians. That has understandably upset a number of people, but it pales in comparison to what’s going on up at Brandeis: Professors are considering reducing their salaries by one percent to avoid staff layoffs:

Lawyers are still vetting the details of the proposal but, in short, interested faculty would contribute to the cause either by forgoing 1 percent of their paychecks, or via a charitable contribution to a reserved Brandeis fund. Faculty would volunteer individually and anonymously (“only the payroll office would know,” Flesch said), without any cuts to their listed base pay. And, to avert concerns about freeloading, contributions would kick in only if there is a critical mass of willing faculty — if those who volunteer collectively earn at least 30 percent of the total faculty salary pool within the College of Arts and Sciences.

Concerns voiced about the Brandeis proposal at a recent faculty meeting reflect, at least in part, questions of trust. According to Flesch’s account, and an account in the student newspaper, some faculty raised concerns that the foregone pay would be used for purposes other than shielding staff, and, more philosophically, that the administration would see the move as a concession suggesting that faculty could be paid less in the future.

I don’t know how the salaries of Brandeis professors compare to those at Wes, but this seems like a pretty drastic step to take. Talk about altruism.

Inside Higher Ed: Taking One (Percent) for the Team

Tenured Radical on Helicopter Parents

Professor Claire Potter has a great entry about helicopter parents up at Tenured Radical:

Yesterday several of us were reminiscing about being dropped off at college. The big topic was: “How did you get them to leave?” — them, of course, being parents. Not everyone, of course, had this problem. Parents used to the boarding school routine knew what other parents did not: that it was only a precious nine weeks to Thanksgiving; they literally dropped their offspring on the curb with a stereo, a typewriter and a duffel bag, and gunned it out of there. Several of my friends who came East (or went West) to school remember just being put on a plane with a couple suitcases. My parents, however, made the ritual drive to Oligarch. When it looked like my mother was about to start ironing my socks in a strategic ploy to not return home without me, my father said brightly, “I could really use an ice cream!” and spirited everyone onto the street. After that, wrapping Mom in duct tape and putting her in the trunk was a cinch. And I was free! Good old Dad.

It’s more difficult to get rid of parents in a timely way now. Administrators in charge of this crucial life transition have responded to parental hovering by creating formal, structured activities for the (soon to be) bereft grown-ups so that there can be an equally formal transition to the moment they are asked by other grown-ups, firmly but politely, to leave. Now, please. This means that being dropped off at college is now at least a two-day event, if not longer, where the moment between meeting your roommates and one of them saying happily, “Who wants to get high?” has been prolonged indefinitely. […]

Can you relate? Read more at her blog.

NYTimes: Progressive professors a nonrenewable resource?

In an article today headlined “The ’60s Begin to Fade as Liberal Professors Retire,” the NYTimes suggests that the hippie-influenced activist Baby Boomer professors are starting to retire – and their academic replacements are leaning more and more toward the moderate and inoffensive.

Yet already there are signs that the intense passions and polemics that roiled campuses during the past couple of decades have begun to fade. At Stanford a divided anthropology department reunited last year after a bitter split in 1998 broke it into two entities, one focusing on culture, the other on biology. At Amherst, where military recruiters were kicked out in 1987, students crammed into a lecture hall this year to listen as alumni who served in Iraq urged them to join the military.

In general, information on professors’ political and ideological leanings tends to be scarce. But a new study of the social and political views of American professors by Neil Gross at the University of British Columbia and Solon Simmons at George Mason University found that the notion of a generational divide is more than a glancing impression. “Self-described liberals are most common within the ranks of those professors aged 50-64, who were teenagers or young adults in the 1960s,” they wrote, making up just under 50 percent. At the same time, the youngest group, ages 26 to 35, contains the highest percentage of moderates, some 60 percent, and the lowest percentage of liberals, just under a third.

When it comes to those who consider themselves “liberal activists,” 17.2 percent of the 50-64 age group take up the banner compared with only 1.3 percent of professors 35 and younger.

“These findings with regard to age provide further support for the idea that, in recent years, the trend has been toward increasing moderatism,” the study says.

The authors are not talking about a political realignment. Democrats continue to overwhelmingly outnumber Republicans among faculty, young and old. But as educators have noted, the generation coming up appears less interested in ideological confrontations, summoning Barack Obama’s statement about the elections of 2000 and 2004: “I sometimes felt as if I were watching the psychodrama of the Baby Boom generation — a tale rooted in old grudges and revenge plots hatched on a handful of college campuses long ago — played out on the national stage.”

As commenters have pointed out, professors overall still seem to be overwhelmingly Democrat-supporting. Anyway, somehow I don’t think this is going to be as huge an issue at Wesleyan… recalling certain recent young Wesleyan professors like Ly.nn Owens and Eyal Rabinovitch (though they aren’t at Wes anymore)…

Professor Out on a Lim

If you’re a political junkie you might be interested in “Out on a Lim“, Assistant Professor of Government Elvin Lim‘s aptly named blog on current American presidential politics. Link added to “Wes 2.0” sidebar.

Thanks to Bradley Spahn ’11 for the tip.

More Newly Tenured Professors

The Board of Trustees is granting tenure to three more faculty members this summer:

Katja Kolcio — Associate Professor of Dance
Katja’s research interests are focused on social somatic theory, the role of somatic creative experience in practices of knowledge production, namely pedagogy, research methodology, and technology.

Edward Moran — Associate Professor of Astronomy

Edward’s area of specialization includes cosmic x-ray background radiation, obscured active galactic nuclei, black holes in the nuclei of dwarf galaxies, and the nature of power source in LINER galaxies.

Cláudia Tatinge Nascimento — Associate Professor of Theater
Cláudia’s teaching and research interests lie in the intercultural and avant-garde performance, ritual and performance, and in Brazilian theatre.

Congrats to these professors, more info about them can be found here.

Prof. Potter’s comment

By request, here’s the comment that Prof. Claire Potter, aka Tenured Radical, wrote on Ed McKeon’s blog:

As a blogger myself who has often been criticized for responses to things that are too quick and idiosyncratic, I don’t want to come down too hard on you. But — allowing for the fact that students were drunk and undoubtedly overreacted because of that — that the police showed up with dogs, tasers and pepper spray in the first place is outrageous. Tasers are sometimes a lethal weapon, not a harmless crowd-control device. Pepper spray, if it gets in the eyes, can cause permanent damage. To be attacked and bitten by a dog is a terrifying and possibly life-changing experience. At its worst, the party was a noise nuisance: students were not trying to interfere with a function of government, nor were they doing anything more harmful than being a pain in the ass to some of their neighbors. Students did not deserve riot control tactics typical of Birmingham in the 1960’s or the West Bank for acting as kids do when they are confronted by authority. While I wish our students had simply been compliant and not escalated the confrontation, not being deferential to unreasoning, violent authority should not make anyone — Wesleyan students or Middletwon citizens — subject to assault and battery by the police.

The Middletown Police response is a function of the ways law enforcement in general has been amped up in the past eight years by Homeland Security money, using a non-existent threat of domestic terrorism as an excuse. The MPD used this as an excuse to make an example of Wesleyan students — nothing more, nothing less. And an argument that says the students deserved it because they didn’t follow orders is just absurd. If your kid doesn’t do what you say, do you have the moral — much less the legal — right to whip him?

There is tremendous resentment of Wesleyan in Middletown, something the university has been trying to address and needs to keep working on, and in this case, the MPD are the leading edge of that resentment. But there are two issues internal to Wesleyan that also need to be addressed: Wesleyan Public Safety’s decision making here, and their possible grievances in terms of what they have to deal with all year (rudeness, aggression from students when they are trying to do their jobs) in relation to such events while also being available 24-7 to be cab drivers, open locked dorm doors, and transport students in various states of inebriation and disrepair; and the possible consequences of Wesleyan’s policy of selling off its houses, which will bring private homeowners in Middletown into closer contact with student events like this one.

Claire Potter
Professor of History and American Studies
Wesleyan University