Following public comments by President Roth and the WSA, the discussion surrounding Monday night’s forum on race and diversity continues around campus—in online comments, in blog posts, but most of all in personal conversations I’ve overheard (or took part in) over the past few days.
If you missed the forum and still aren’t sure what all of the talk is about, Ben Doernberg ’13 (who livestreamed the event on Monday) has taken the liberty of consolidating his footage into one master YouTube video. It’s long (the forum began at 7:30 and continued well past 10 pm), and the video quality isn’t ideal, but you should easily be able to make out what’s being said. And you should watch it, too. Three hours is daunting, so split it into segments. Let the audio play while you’re doing work. Listen to it on your iPhone while running. But listen.
As one of the students on the panel remarks about thirty minutes in, “These are discussions that we must have, and not discussions that are silenced.”
As issues of race and diversity come to a head on campus, a disturbing account of a Public Safety assault on a student has emerged. As you may be aware, Paulie Lowther ’13 was found at the Freeman Athletic Center on Tuesday, October 30, and charged with criminal trespass and breach of peace. After being released from custody, Lowther, who is African-American, was diagnosed with a concussion.
Accounts of what transpired during the encounter vary.
According to the Hartford Courant, which sources its information from the police report, “Lowther tried to run away from public safety officers when found at 12:10 a.m.” Police say he appeared drunk when taken into custody. (Lowther says he was under the legal limit.) Public Safety claims he refused to identify himself and fled when found.
Wesleying Editor Zach Schonfeld ’13 visited Lowther’s house on Fountain earlier this week to get his side of the story.
According to Lowther, he was invited to a pool party in Freeman on the night of Tuesday, October 30th, which was during Hurricane Sandy. He entered through the side door, which had been propped open by the organizers of the party. When he arrived, other students were in the pool. Before joining them, he got in the sauna.
When in the sauna, “[he] heard a bunch of people yell ‘P-Safe’ and a lot of running.” He decided to not run. A female Public Safety officer arrived. Staying in the sauna, he told her his Wes ID number and that he was a student. The officer “said it didn’t match anything on file,” according to Lowther.
“Given the size of our campus and our openness to visitors, each of us must make a personal commitment to promote safety and security for ourselves and others.”
Good thing your usually paranoid WesParents were kept busy this weekend. Otherwise they might have heard through the grapevine about the inordinate number of P-Safe reports students received. Ranging from the awkward to the truly menacing, each report detailed an account of students approached at night by men, and all of them ended in shouting or physical confrontations. The first one, from Friday night (or Saturday morning, depending on how you operate), seems merely socially awkward:
Public Safety would like to inform the community that on Saturday 10/20/12 at 2:44am a female was walking on Church St and was approached by a male subject who put his arm around her and asked her to walk with him. The male removed his arm and tried to start a conversation with the student. Several other students walked by and the female walked away from the male and into the Exley Science Center. The male shouted out to her but did not follow her. The male then left the area and the student later notified Public Safety of the incident. The student was not injured and declined to speak with Middletown Police.
The student described the suspect as an African-American male, 5″ 6″ tall, medium build in, his late 20’s or early 30’s, short hair, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, dark jeans and carrying a backpack.
Wesleying would like to inform the community that on Sunday 10/21/12 at approximately 11 a.m. a Wes squirrel was scurrying atop a WILD Wes compost pile outside of WestCo 1 when a non-student red-tailed hawk swooped down and began violently pecking at it. The hawk did not attempt to engage the squirrel in conversation before grasping it with its razor sharp, two-inch talons. The squirrel was disembowled but declined medical attention and did not report the incident to the Middletown Police.
Ethan Hill ’16 who witnessed the altercation from his WestCo balcony said:
My roommate Willie Zabar ’16saw the hawk tackle the squirrel on the compost pile and start pecking at it. Then [the hawk] grabbed it and flung it down on the ground and ripped its arm off.
The hawk flew off after dismembering the squirrel, before it returned to the scene at approximately 1:50 p.m. It resumed eating the squirrel, causing severe injuries to its intestines and severing its head. Several students who were returning from brunch and witnessed the confrontation took out their phones and took pictures. The hawk eventually fled the scene into a nearby tree.
Witnesses described the assailant as an adult female red-tailed hawk of indeterminate subspecies with a wingspan that was terrifyingly long.
Anyone with any information about this incident is asked to call Public Safety at 860-685-2345 or erect a convincing scarecrow. It is unknown at this time if this public safety incident is linked to last spring’s vulture attack on April 25.
“No Wesleyan student should feel unsafe on campus.”
If you’ve glanced at Wesleying in the past week or so, then you’re already familiar with the federal lawsuit that refers to Beta as a ‘Rape Factory’ and accuses the University of failing to protect students from sexual assault and rape. (Since last weekend, the case has received national media coverage.) Vincent Vecchione ’07 and Holly Wood ’08 (yes, that Holly) have responded with an online petition calling on the Board of Trustees to require that ResLife analyze all other instances of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape and assess how well the office responded. According to Vecchione, every signature on the petition sends an email to the Board. The full text appears below.
In light of the recent allegations of the administration’s horrifying mistreatment and cruelty toward a rape victim in 2010, it is crucial that Wesleyan University analyze all other recorded charges of sexual crimes reported to the Offices of Residential Life and Public Safety. The best way to do this is for the Office of Residential Life to analyze every prior notice of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape, then review how the Office responded, and whether this response was effective. Special attention should be paid to cases of representatives of the administration “gaslighting” or otherwise diminishing the criminality of harassment, assault and rape to undergraduates.
“These actions, which can be clearly identified as a demonstration and sit-in, are protected as a legitimate mode of expression under Regulation 12.”
Last week, we reported that a handful of the students who participated in the Board of Trustees Occupation received SJB summons for violating Regulations 14 and 15 of the Code of Non-Academic Conduct. On Friday, charged students received confirmation of the charges and notices of their Simplified Hearing dates. (The occupation and its subsequent disciplinary action are also the subject of a Middletown Press piece by former Argus editor-in-chief Justin Pottle ’13. The Hartford Courant has also gone public with an article. More on this press coverage soon.)
A few of the charged students, including Oliver James ’14, have had their ResLife jobs threatened by the disciplinary action. “Both Yona and I were threatened last week with termination of our positions at Res Life for participating in the Need Blind Trustees Action,” James explained to me a few days ago over email. “We both heard today that we are not going to be fired but that we are being put on probation for the rest of the 2012-2013 academic year. Essentially, any further deviation from our duties as Res Life Staff, regardless of the nature, is now grounds for being fired. We hear this as the administration’s way of saying ‘Stay in line, or else.'”
Fair? The University was just following through with disciplinary policy by charging these students, right?
Just because P-Safe hasn’t sent you an alert doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. According to Middletown Patch, two men were found trespassing on campus around 3 a.m. last night. When questioned by a P-Safe officer, they tried to run and later gave false information. Interestingly, an MPD dog saved the day:
The report says Harris gave the name of a friend he was visiting, which turned out to be false. The report says he fled on foot but was caught by a police canine. Smith fled the scene, police say, but Wesleyan public safety said he was seen driving a Nissan Pathfinder around campus blowing his horn, seeming to be looking for Harris.
Smith was found on Rose Circle, the report says, but wouldn’t answer questions when asked. Smith finally gave his first name, the report says, and said the car was his mother’s but denied being on campus. Wesleyan officers identified Smith, the report says.
The two men were charged with “simple trespass, criminal impersonation and interfering with an office.”
Memo: just because we have a sexuality magazine on campus doesn’t mean your hallmates want to be covertly photographed while taking a shower. A Wesleyan sophomore learned this unfortunate lesson today and was promptly arrested, according to a Public Safety alert fresh from your inbox:
At approximately 8:30 this morning, Public Safety and Middletown Police responded to a complaint from a student that another student had covertly taken pictures of her while she was in the shower. The alleged incident took place at a student residence on High Street. As a result of the investigation, the accused student was arrested by Middletown Police and has been removed from campus pending a judicial hearing.
Both Middletown Police and Public Safety consider this an isolated incident. The University is not releasing further details in order to maintain the privacy of the individuals involved. A report will appear on the Campus Climate Log later this week.
Last month I spent a weekend on campus, nearly got robbed, and only realized it the following morning, when a Public Safety Alert popped into my inbox. I urged students on campus to stay alert at night; it’s a lot more desolate than it is during the semester, and small-time criminals know it.
Unnervingly enough, Middletown robberies happen in broad daylight on Sundays, too:
Public Safety would like to inform the community that on Sunday July 1 at approximately 2:08pm a student was walking in the area of William St and Hamlin St when he was approached by two suspects who displayed a hand gun and demand his wallet and phone. The student complied and the after the suspects left he walked to the Public Safety office.
Around 11:50 last night, while walking across campus with another student, I noticed two guys in hooded sweatshirts following us from a significant distance near College Row. We walked faster. They pursued. We turned a corner. Eventually, they were out of sight.
I put the incident out of mind until today, when this Public Safety Alert appeared in my (and your) inbox. I’m reposting it here as a casual PSA for anyone at Wes over the summer: stay alert at night. Campus gets pretty desolate after 10 p.m., and if you’re traveling solo, consider yourself vulnerable to this sort of thing:
Public Safety would like to alert the community that on Sunday June 17 at 12:18AM a male reported that he was robbed on Church St. The victim stated that he was approached by two males as he walked alone along Church St in the vicinity of Olin Library. He stated the males displayed facsimile handguns, knocked him to the ground and kicked him. He stated that the suspects took his cell phone and ring before fleeing on foot. The victim declined medical attention.