Over the past several weeks, students at colleges across the country (including Mizzou, Yale, Ithaca, and Claremont McKenna) have brought attention to the rampant racism, discrimination, and oppression that students of color experience during their time on campuses. It goes without saying that these same systemic issues are present at Wesleyan, and President Michael Roth just sent an all-campus email about administrative efforts to create a more equitable community.
Note: If any student is interested in writing a response to Roth for Wesleying or talking about student activism, racism on campus, or anything else, please don’t hesitate to email us at staff(at)wesleying(dot)org.
Read President Roth’s statement after the jump.
This post is the first in a small series of reflections on the recent events on campus, to be published over the next few days. If you have anything that you would like to contribute, please feel free to reach out to us.
I am writing this in response to the traumatic and overwhelming events that have happened over the past few days – the hospitalization of a dozen students and the arrest of four others, as well as the media and institutional reactions. I hope that this can be a space of positive dialogue and solidarity, where we share our thoughts and reflections with compassion and humanity. I hope to counter the intense and destructive negativity and inappropriateness of some of the language being used to address these events in our own community, in person and online, in the media portrayals and in the administration’s emails. These events remind of us of the importance of fostering a supportive community, one that we must build on our own, as the student body. These thoughts hope to help support that process of reconciliation, healing, and empowerment.
Via the brilliant Dreisen Heath ’15:
Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot to death by a police officer on Saturday, August 9, in Ferguson, Missouri. Eyewitnesses say that when the last shots were fired, Brown had his hands up.
In honor and in solidarity with the late Michael Brown, we invite you to participate in a photographical moment that will capture the classic gesture of surrender to authority, which has now evolved into a defiant symbol across the nation.
To assure agency is properly given to the primary victims of unarmed violence and allies, “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” and “Don’t Shoot In My Name” are both two separate social media movements with different targeted groups of people, uniting under the same issue.
In mere hours three students will go before the SJB in a highly controversial hearing on their alleged participation in a political campaign. Alums have sprung into action, drafting a letter in solidarity with the defendants and quickly securing an impressive range of signatories. At the time of this post, more than 211 alumnae from class years spanning 1981-2013 have signed the call from countries all over the world. The full text of the letter and the signatures is below:
We, progressive Wesleyan alumni, are deeply distressed to learn of the mistreatment of current transgender students and allies on campus. We support the brave student activists who responded to their experience of marginalization by expressing themselves through de-gendering the bathrooms.
Transgender people face socially-sanctioned dehuminization and abuse, employment discrimination, threats and violence. Wesleyan’s perpetuation of this behavior is abhorrent and inconsistent with the values that the University fosters among its students, such as social justice, inclusivity, and community. In this and other actions of late we are witnessing an eroding of Wesleyan’s core values, and we are concerned about the current and future climate of a place we once held so dear.
If you’re a senior and you’re reading this: you’re too drunk or too tired to read this (or both). Go to bed. Otherwise, check out this big thingamajig that Raechel Rosen ’15 has put together, apparently with some inspiration from Dar Williams ’89:
Humanity Festival is a one-day musical celebration in solidarity
against bigotry, racism, and social divisions within a community.
Foss Hill. Saturday. 3:00 pm. Come dance,sing, discuss, and smile
- Amanda Palmer
- Don Minott (with Wesleyan student accompaniment including Matt
- Chillton, Leo Grossman, Zach Kantor, Angus Macdonald, and Jacob Masters)
- Jess Best, Mel Hsu & Sam Friedman
- Oz, Rhys Langston, & Izzy
Along with many talented spoken word artists. There will be time
between sets, called SOAP BOX, for members of the audience to say
their piece about the divisions present in the Wesleyan and greater
Sponsored by Gibson Guitars and the 1Love foundation.
Date: Tomorrow, April 13th
Time: 3 PM
Place: Foss Hill
Not long after Wesleyan’s own “Diversity University” panel followed on hateful remarks on the ACB and racial identification in Public Safety reports, Oberlin College is experiencing its share of diversity-related conflict.
The liberal arts college in Oberlin, OH, received reports this morning of “a person wearing a hood and robe resembling a KKK outfit between South and the Edmonia Lewis Center and in the vicinity of Afrikan Heritage House.” Shortly after, the college officially cancelled classes for the day, and students acted quickly to organize a “day of solidarity.”
Oberlin has reportedly been experiencing numerous accounts of hate-related issues recently. According to Arianna Gil Oberlin ’15, an active organizer in the “day of solidarity,” the past month has seen many “threats, attacks, defacement, and graffiti” against students of color and queer students.
This page offers a detailed timeline of the incidents of hate from February.
When asked about whether the suspects are students, Gil responded, “No one really knows who they are. I have my thoughts.”
In collaboration with Diversity University and Gibson Guitars, Raechel Rosen ’15 and JJ Mitchell ’15 invite you to plan The Wesleyan Humanity Festival:
Inspired by the intellectual musings of Professor Dar Williams, the Wesleyan Humanity Festival is a one-day musical celebration in solidarity against bigotry, racism, and social divisions.
The festival will take place this April and intends to bring all members of the Wesleyan and greater Middletown community together through music, art, and spoken word poetry. The festival will encourage dialogue about—and action against—the existing class, racial, and social rifts that exist within the community. The Wesleyan Humanity Festival will bring passionate, politically aware, and socially conscious artists who have united audiences in the face of difference. The festival will include both performance and direct dialogue. Through this day, we hope to inspire an open attitude and to continue the growing movement towards understanding how to create an inclusive community.
Want to spend the two-month anniversary of the Newtown shooting marching through Hartford with thousands of others to demand sensible gun legislation in Connecticut? So do I. There’s a planning meeting on Tuesday, and Em Kianka ’13 has deets:
The recent tragedy in Newtown has just made more apparent an issue that has been neglected for far too long. We as a community must take a stand and tell our legislators that enacting gun control legislation now is necessary to ending gun violence in the state of Connecticut. Come stand in solidarity with those working to end gun violence and join the March for Change in Hartford the morning of February 14th. The March for Change is organized by a coalition of activists supporting the enactment of safer gun legislation in CT and will support the efforts of CT Against Gun Violence.
Interested in marching or helping mobilize a coalition of Wesleyan students to attend or volunteer at the march? Come attend this planning meeting on Tuesday, 1/29 at 4:15 in Usdan 110 to talk about our vision for Wesleyan’s involvement in the march. THERE WILL BE SNACKS!
Also, please invite your friends!
Date: Tuesday, January 29 (the actual march is February 14)
Time: 4:15 p.m.
Place: Usdan 110