Public Safety has had an interesting year at best. First alleged racial profiling during homecoming weekend, then allegations of Public Safety assaulting a Wesleyan student, and in January, an officer was fired for allegedly stealing equipment from faculty offices. This was followed by today’s email (see below) in which two Public Safety officers were involved in viewing and possibly video recording a female student in her residence. The two offending officers have since been fired. According to an email from Dean Mike Whaley, Wesleyan “is cooperating with Middletown police in an ongoing investigation.”
Following last semester’s forum, President Roth ’78 had an independent review look into Public Safety’s current practices and relationship with the University. Tonight, from 7 p.m.-8 p.m. in the Daniel Family Commons (third floor of Usdan), you can attend an open student session and meet with the representatives of the independent company conducting the review, Margolis Healy. It’s some pretty strikingly appropriate timing, considering today’s email report.
Watch a student-produced documentary about recent tensions involving Public Safety here.
Date: Tuesday, April 30 (today)
Place: Daniel Family Commons
Read past the jump for the full email.
Image c/o Shannon Welch ’14 and the Wesleyan Argus.
On Wednesday night, students, faculty, and staff gathered in Tischler Hall of the Exley Science Center for the second Diversity University forum of the year. This program, entitled “Diversity University: In the Classroom and Beyond,” was a follow-up to last semester’s forum, “In Theory and In Practice.”
From the very start, it was clear that the atmosphere of this forum was very different from the first one. Not only were there fewer people in attendance, the emotional level, though high, was distinctly more subdued. Clearly this time of year is particularly busy for Wesleyan students, and I can only imagine that that was a major factor in keeping the numbers down. But there was also not the same feeling of urgency, the immediate need for such a gathering—which, all in all, is probably a good thing.
Last fall’s forum was organized in the wake of a series of upsetting incidents of attacks on students, and subsequent issues of racism, targeting, and exclusion that arose from conversations, Public Safety reports, and WesACB threads. In Wednesday’s forum, while there was an expression of similar concerns and issues of diversity, but there was not the same shocking outpouring of powerful emotion.
For the fifth or tenth or maybe even twentieth year in a row, hundreds of students gathered on Foss Hill at 4:20 on April 20 to submerge the Middletown skyline in a sea of smoke as potent as any since the Grateful Dead serenaded Foss in 1970. Only this time Dean Rick Culliton gave the practice a name. He called it “protesting existing marijuana laws.” Did you have a civically engaged weekend?
Leave it to students to give it a hashtag:
Once again, the weather was quite a bit friendlier to 4/20 than it’s been to Spring Fling in recent years, and members of Public Safety harshed some students’ mellow by tramping around with video cameras and stamping out joints left and right.
9 hours. 13 acts. Brochella. April 13th. 1pm-10pm. Butt(s)hole.
Come one, come all: ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, illegal pets out of their Weshop bags to enjoy the sun for once in their sad lives.
That is because tomorrow is Brochella, brought to you by Wesleyan’s Alpha Psi Chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi, the National(ly Renowned) Jewish Fraternity. This epically long music festival features 13 bands and is sure to rock your socks off, get your jimmies jangling, and what’s more, it is completely free. There will also be a barbecue. Our new deal is four patties for a box (of Franzia). Score some points with P-Safe.
- WHEN?: Tomorrow from 1-10pm
- WHERE?: The Butt(s)hole
- FACEBOOK?: Here.
Click after the jump for the full schedule!
This morning, we all received a Public Safety Alert informing us about a physical and sexual assault that occurred this morning at Beta Fraternity House on High Street. The survivor was able to escape during the assault, reported the assault to Public Safety, and was transported to Middlesex Hospital for minor injuries.
In light of this awful and tragic information, I would like to remind everyone that sexual assault here at Wesleyan remains a problem as terrible as any this campus has ever faced, and that sexual assault is never, ever okay.
Womanist House will be providing a safe space for support this afternoon.
Additionally, Rachel Verner ’15 writes in about a gathering later in the evening and always-available resources for survivors and the community:
SART Intern, Rachel Verner, and Students for Consent and Communication would like to invite everyone to an open community meeting tonight. Our goal is to create a safe space to talk about sexual violence prevention, and what we can all do to rid rape culture at Wesleyan. We will be meeting in the University Organizing Centre (190 High Street) this evening (Sunday, March 7th) at 9pm. Please see below for a list of other available resources:
SART Members – Confidential Reporters
- Larry Antosz, Counseling Center, 860-685-2910
- David Leipziger Teva, Chaplain, 860-685-2278
- Sandy Frimel, Health Services, 860-685-2470
- Emily Daponte, Health Services, 860-685-2470
- Jennifer D’Andrea, Counseling Center, 860-685-2910
- Alysha B. Warren, Counseling Center, 860-685.2910
As a final project for his Digital Filmmaking class, slam poet regular and Wesleying contributor Solomon Billinkoff ’14 has made a brief documentary about Public Safety. The twelve-minute short focuses on a series of events in the fall of 2012 (many of which led to the recent decision not to include racial descriptors in safety alerts). As Billinkoff explains in his voice-over:
I never had a plan for this movie. All I knew was that I wanted to make a documentary about Public Safety. After having gotten approval from the organization, my first instinct was to humanize P-Safe, as it is an institution that is generally maligned by the student body. A wave of on-campus assaults had just occurred within a single week, and I was interested to discover what P-Safe was doing to handle the situation and protect students. But the alerts P-Safe had sent out described the suspects as “African-American” and “male,” and unbeknownst to me at the time, these email alerts were met with a slew of racial hatred on Wesleyan’s Anonymous Confession Board. It was then revealed that a P-Safe officer had allegedly assaulted a black Wesleyan student. A week later, a forum on student diversity and equality was held in Wesleyan’s Beckham Hall.
These conflicts and contradictions form the basis of Billinkoff’s film, which largely speaks for itself. It’s only twelve minutes, so watch it after the jump.
From Laiya Ackman ’15:
As people wake up and open their email from Public Safety alerting them to the attempted sexual assault that took place last night, I would like to reach out to the campus community and invite anyone who feels affected or upset to Womanist House this afternoon. We’ll have tea and snacks and will strive to be a space space for anyone who needs it. Please feel free to drop by at 44 Brainerd Ave (perpendicular to Lawn, parallel to Pine and Home) anytime from 3-5pm today.
We would like to make sure that everyone on this campus can find a safe space and a support group as we reflect on this traumatic event. Our thoughts and support goes out to the survivor.
If you would like to contact me directly, my email is lackman[at]wesleyan[dot]edu.
If you are interested in talking to one of the many sexual assault resources on campus, here are some of your options:
SART (Sexual Assault Response Team) *Confidential Reporter
Alysha Warren, CAPS: 860-685-3217*
Larry Antosz, CAPS: 860-685-2910*
Sandy Frimel, Health Services: 860-685-2470*
David Leipziger Teva, Chaplain: 860-685-2278*
Rachel Verner, SART Intern: 860-685-4673 (HOPE)
CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services): 860-685-2910
Women and Family Center (24/7): 888-999-5545
Date: Today, April 7
Time: 3-5 p.m.
Place: Womanist House, 44 Brainerd Ave
“Diversity and Inclusion” will be theme for next fall’s Orientation, fall Board of Tustees retreat
In an all-campus email update yesterday, President Roth sent word that Public Safety will no longer include racial identifications in its safety alerts, an issue that has become increasingly contentious since Homecoming Weekend, when a sudden rash of safety incidents all described assailants as “African-American males.” The move has been recommended by a Public Safety Review Committee, which consists of students, faculty, and staff members. From Roth’s note:
The committee has recommended that Public Safety modify campus safety alerts to provide descriptions of suspects without using race as a descriptor, and Public Safety has adopted this practice. The committee continues to review the department’s policies and protocols, web presence, and schedule of trainings. Ensuring that there is a clear path for reporting concerns to the department is important.
Roth’s attention to issues of diversity and racial profiling follows closely on November’s “Diversity University” forum, where the topic of alleged racial profiling took center stage, alongside claims of Public Safety misconduct (most notably, an incident involving Paulie Lowther ’13), hateful ACB remarks, and diversity sensitivity in general. A number of students of color took the microphone at that event, describing being singled out for suspicion and unwarranted hostility. “It’s your responsibility not only to protect us, but to get to know us,” a student demanded to Director of Public Safety Dave Meyer. A heated exchange followed between Meyer, who insisted that Public Safety is required by Connecticut law to include racial identifications in email alerts, and Visiting Professor of English and African-American Studies Sarah Mahurin, who claimed that Yale—where she completed her graduate work—does not include race in its reports. (Meyer disputed this claim; a current Yale law student later verified it in an email to Wesleying.)
Or, Why Wesleyan in 1983 Was Basically Just Like Europe in 1415.
About a month ago, in the aftermath of the megablizzard, Public Safety came under criticism for threatening to tow cars buried under mountains of snow that made it rather difficult for their owners to reach them. If retweets are endorsements, a handful of students echoed the complaint.
There’s not much that’s interesting about the history of Snow Parking Bans (side note: we’re more than midway through March and as I look out my window right now, it’s again snowing), but piecing through the Argives last week I was oddly enthralled by an Argus story that ran 30 years ago last month with the headline “100 Cars Towed as a Result of Snowstorm.” After this particular 1983 storm, Middletown Police Sergeant Wood was unforgiving: “If they’re not off streets, they’re towed. It’s as simple as that,” he told the Argus.
But as then-Argus reporter (and current literary agent) Linda Loewenthal ’85 tells it, the problem was that many students simply weren’t aware that the parking ban was in effect. Why would they be? In 1983, before email or Pinterest or Friendster or whatever, it was damn hard to get information out quickly on a college campus:
The following is a guest post by Ross Levin ’15, titled “An Open Letter to the Wesleyan Community on our Current Situation”:
During the fall semester this year, I was not on campus, but whisperings of the efforts to save need-blind admissions still reached me, through Wesleying, through friends, through maverick independent journalist Ben Doernberg ’13. I was enthralled by all the activity and excited at the prospect of joining in the movement upon returning in January. However, in early October I received a startling email. Apparently, I was being fined $50 for writing a few sentences in chalk on the University’s pavement last April. And evidently, without paying the full $50, re-enrolling at Wesleyan University wouldn’t be an option.
So I replied to the email from our Dean of Students, inquiring as to the provenance of the figure of $50. The Dean wrote back promptly, informing me of the fact that ResLife, the office of the Dean of Students, Physical Plant, and all other institutions, organizations, sub-contractors, and autonomous collectives involved in the hefty task of regulating student-committed acts of chalk against pavement, brick, concrete, and otherwise script-conducive surfaces, have at their disposal a “formula.” This formula is precise in its calculations of financial damage done by the chalk. My $50 fine, I was graciously informed, was exactly equal to, no more and no less, the cost of restoring the Wesleyan University campus to its original state, as if I had never carried out that heinous deed.