“Consent. All the cool kids are doing it.”
This past weekend marked the halfway point of the “Red Zone”, or the first six weeks of school when students are statistically most vulnerable to sexual assault and violence.
I sat down with WSA President Rebecca Hutman ’17 and Vice President Nila Ravi ’17 (with a brief interjection by Lizzie Shackney ’17, who was also chilling in Pi) to find out more about the project and its trajectory for the rest of the six weeks and beyond.
Students march to South College as part of ISTHISWHY Campaign
Content warning: This article discusses issues of sexual assault. Community and official support resources can be accessed here, here, and here.
This is part of our 2016 Unofficial Orientation Series. A quick reminder that you can check out the welcome post here and past years’ series here.
For some reason, this post was not included in last year’s Unofficial Orientation Series, even though we had some major student activism occurring during the 2014-2015 school year. Before I link to some of that history and go more in-depth as to some actions occurring this past year, I want to start by quoting alt‘s incredibly well-written intro to the 2014 Rage Update:
From Students for Consent and Communication:
Take Back the Night is a global movement to end sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual abuse and all other forms of sexual violence. This year, we will march from Olin at 7 (come to poster-making in 200 Church the night before!!) to Foss for some student performances. At 8:30, we will have our first speak out circle on the CFA green, where survivors or friends can share their stories of sexual violence in a safe and non-judgmental space. After the speak out circle, the group will circle back to Andrus for a second speak out circle and a candlelight vigil. There will be a debriefing session in the DFC afterwards.
If you want to share a personal story of sexual violence in the speak out circles but would rather it be anonymous, you can submit it to this link and another person will read it for you at the event.
SFCC will be tabling for the event 4/25-4/28 11-2pm in Usdan if you have any questions/ want to pick-up some dope stickers and buttons.
PERPETRATORS NOT WELCOME
Take Back the Night
Date: Thursday, April 28
Time: 7-10 PM
Cosby meeting with the Director of University Relations and John Woodhouse ’53 during a 2010 fundraising event for Green Street Arts Center. (Photo by Olivia Drake)
Content warning: This article discusses allegations of sexual assault. Community and official support resources can be accessed here, here, and here.
Conversations and actions regarding sexual assault at Wesleyan are nothing new. Hookup culture at this University has extensively been written about on Wesleying and elsewhere. Wesleyan was featured in Kirby Dick’s The Hunting Ground, a 2015 documentary about rape on college campuses. Wesleyan also has a longstanding history of association with Bill Cosby.
It is news to none that there is strong evidence to suggest that Bill Cosby is a serial rapist. Cosby has now been formally charged with three felony accounts of aggravated indecent assault, which comes after more than 40 women have come forward publicly stating that they are survivors of instances in which Bill Cosby sexually assaulted them. In the cultural dialogue that followed the bringing-forth of these stories, attention began to turn to the 37 colleges and universities, Wesleyan being one, that have granted Cosby an honorary degree, a symbol of institutional support. Questions were being raised as to whether these degrees should be rescinded as a means to destroy this symbolism in college environments already plagued with rape culture.
In 1987, Wesleyan granted Cosby an honorary doctorate of letters. That same year, Cosby gave the commencement address, the full-text of which can be found here. Cosby’s daughter, Erika Ranee Cosby ’87, received a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan that day as well.
In April 2015, the Argus published an article on whether Wesleyan would rescind Cosby’s honorary doctorate, and in it, President Roth stated:
The deadline to sign up for this CAPS-run group is coming up:
The Sexual Assault Support Group for male-identified survivors will be held on Tuesdays, beginning September 29th-December 8th from 7:00-8:15pm. Meetings will follow an open support group format and participants determine group topics each week.
Contact Alysha B. Warren, LPC, Therapist/Sexual Violence Resource Coordinator at awarren[at]wesleyan[dot]edu for more information. Reference “Tuesday Support Group” in the subject line. The deadline to sign-up is Thursday, September 24th.
Date: Tuesdays, September 29-December 8
Place: find out by emailing
From Nikita Rajgopal ’17:
Please join us in the Goldsmith Family Cinema at 8pm on Tuesday April 28th for a screening of THE HUNTING GROUND. From the Academy Award-nominated filmmaking team behind The Invisible War, comes a startling exposé of sexual assault on U.S. campuses, institutional cover-ups and the brutal social toll on victims and their families. Wesleyan University is featured in this film! (See trailer here.)
We will be holding a Q&A panel/discussion after the film for those who are interested in discussing sexual assault on Wesleyan’s campus. This will also be an opportunity to learn about the progress that students and administrators have made toward changing policy and ending sexual assault in our community.
As part of their 5-week Bystander Intervention series, We Speak We Stand is promoting tips and intervention strategies for how to intervene in potentially harmful or uncomfortable situations. Here is their poster for this week, as well as posters from previous weeks below:
From Willa Beckman ’15:
Become an active bystander by registering for Wesleyan’s bystander intervention training! Empowered bystanders make the campus community safer by standing up and speaking out when they witness situations that could potentially harm the health and safety of others. Intervening with peers can be difficult for a number of reasons and training will provide you with the skills to move from inaction to action and intervene safely and effectively.
The training features two distinct and separate tracks: sexual violence prevention and alcohol use intervention.
Register here by Friday, February 20th.
Date: Monday, Feb 23
Time: 7 PM
Place: 41 Wyllys room 114
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.
The all-male residential fraternity Psi Upsilon has been placed on probationary housing status and suspended from all social activities through the end of 2015, according to an all-campus email today from President Roth and Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Whaley.
These new sanctions come as a direct result of two reported sexual assault cases against Psi U—one of Wesleyan University’s three all-male residential fraternities, and one of five total Greek residences, on campus—with the first incident occurring at an “unregistered pledge event” in spring 2011, and the second in the spring of 2013. The second case is detailed in a lawsuit filed in March 2014, currently pending against Psi Upsilon, the Wesleyan Xi Chapter, and several Psi U members (but not against the University itself), that asserts negligence on the part of the defendants. The perpetrators in both cases, according the University, were “dismissed from the University after being found responsible for sexual assault.”
Although the email acknowledges that many or all of the current fraternity members were not present at the time of either assault, the University believes that “some sanction of the fraternity is appropriate,” and the resulting decision is “consistent with our policies to support survivors, punish assailants and change the culture so as to eliminate elements that lead to sexual assault.” This action follows a busy semester of changes to and increased oversight of Greek life on campus, including the announcement that the Beta Theta Pi house would be off-limits to students for the 2014-2015 academic year. The entirety of the email has been reproduced below.