On Wednesday, Michael Roth spoke to a crowd inside 413 Main Street and announced plans to move the Wesleyan Bookstore to that location by next semester. Construction will begin in December and is expected to be completed by next spring.
“We’re committed to strengthening the ties between campus and Main Street,” said Roth. “Relocating Wesleyan’s bookstore is a major step in the direction, and I am so delighted that R.J. Julia Booksellers, with their phenomenal reputation, will be our partner in this effort.”
The announcement follows an initial proposal by Roth to move the bookstore back in April, in an effort to increase Main Street’s potential as a cultural hub for Wesleyan students and faculty as well as Middletown residents. The new 12,000-square-foot space is designed to host more events than the current Broad Street location, and “will improve first impressions for prospective students and families,” according to a Wesleyan Newsletter post following the announcement.
*This post is an updated version of the Eating and Drinking installment of last year’s Orientation Series*
Eating and drinking is a necessity for all living beings, even during your hazy college days. While we all have to adjust our food standards from delicious home-cooked meals to university food, trust me, it could be worse. Wesleyan has many options for dining that you can enjoy regardless of your dietary orientation. Wesleyan was chosen the most vegan-friendly small US school by PETA, and our friends at the Mongolian Grill are always willing to cook-up a chicken tortilla topped with cheese if it’s protein that you want.
This is a part of the Unofficial Orientation Series 2014 to remind you to eat your veggies.
Wes, 1; Centerplan, 0.
A week after last Tuesday’s Bookstore Relocation Open Forum—during which students, faculty, Middletown residents, and alumni came together and spoke out against the Washington Street development with unwavering fervor—Assistant Vice President for Facilities Joyce Topshe and Associate Vice President for Finance Nate Peters confirm that Wesleyan’s bookstore is staying precisely where it is:
On the basis of strong community sentiment, Wesleyan has decided not to relocate its bookstore to Washington Street. Objections to the bookstore relocation (and planned development) included concerns about pedestrian safety, increased traffic, and disruption of the residential neighborhood. Wesleyan had signed a non-binding agreement with the developer, Centerplan Companies, to give the University the opportunity to discuss the proposal with its community before reaching any conclusions. On November 27, Wesleyan held an open forum on the proposed relocation, and the views of faculty, staff, students and neighbors from Middletown who participated were strongly against the proposal. Wesleyan also sought and received community input on a blog it created about the proposed relocation, and Wesleyan administrators received emails from and held conversations with individuals and campus groups.
According to WSA Finance and Facilities Committee Chair Andrew Trexler ’14, he and WSA Pres Zachary Malter ’13 met with Peters and Topshe last week and “conveyed a broad range of student opinion, which was predominantly opposed to the move and the development.”
Ed Thorndike ’89: “Closing is not something that we view as an option.”
Yesterday I liveblogged an open community forum in PAC 001 regarding the proposed Washington Street commercial development and Wesleyan bookstore relocation. Considering recent controversy, I expected to hear some forceful arguments from community members. My expectations were exceeded. If you missed the 90-minute discussion, a quick glance at the liveblog coverage might hint at the passion with which students, faculty, alumni, and Middletown residents spoke out against the proposal. Some of the major complaints addressed traffic concerns, Washington Street safety, threats to local businesses, whether or not downtown really needs national chains, disregard for historic structures, permanent changes to zoning laws, Red & Black Cafe, skepticism towards the developers’ stated desire for “linkage” and “community,” and, ultimately, the character of downtown Middletown itself. Succinctly put, there’s a lot wrapped up in this proposal.
Inspired by many of the voices expressed at the forum, I stuck around afterwards to interview a few of the more outspoken community members. Some brief video statements appear past the jump. They feature two Wesleyan alumni (both of whom live and work in Middletown) and one current professor.
If my reporting seems one-sided—admittedly, I’m no fan of the proposal myself—it’s worth clarifying that of the 150 or more attendees at this forum, not one spoke up in favor of the development. Nobody seemed to like the idea. Nobody seemed to believe it will provide the “linkage” and “community engagement” it’s supposed to offer.
Greetings from PAC 001, where an open forum on the proposed bookstore relocation is about to begin. Seats are filling up quickly; so far I spot about 20 or 30 community members, a suited Centerplan representative, a small handful of students, and one or two professors (including Susanne Fusso, famed Professor of Russian Language and Literature). The average age in this room is probably well over 35, which is interesting. Where are all the students? (Update: As of the start of the forum, many more students have streamed in, and there are probably well over 130 people here, of pretty much all ages.)
Community members both inside and outside of Wesleyan’s campus have weighed in on the proposed development. Many, like Wesleyan alum and parent Jen Alexander ’88 and Red & Black owner Ed Thorndike ’89, are against it. Mayor Drew, on the other hand, is all for it, mostly on the grounds of job creation. If recent comments are any indication, there will be some strong views raised at this forum.
Wesleying’s liveblog coverage begins past the jump.
“We believe it is is not ethically responsible at this time for us as alumni to financially support an institution that is not willing to properly ensure the safety and respect of its student body.”
Confirming reports from Homecoming Weekend that a significant number of alumni are aware of and unhappy about recent campus controversies surrounding sexual assault and need-blind admissions, Wesleying received the following letter from members of the class of 2010. The note has been circulating via email among recent alums. In it, Anonymous ’10 expresses “serious concerns regarding two recent, unsettling missteps taken by Wesleyan University” and asks hir classmates to pledge not to donate. No doubt this suggestion will be controversial on campus (particularly in the arena of need-blind, where Wesleyan’s meager alumni giving rate is especially pertinent). No doubt it will also grab attention.
Some alumni have already defended their unwillingness to donate in the comments section of recent posts. Wesleying is interested in following up with a longer feature. If you’re an alumnus who won’t donate to the school and want to talk about it—or a caller for Red & Black—please contact us at staff(at)wesleying(dot)org.
Here’s the letter: