The recent news that a Wesleyan student is suing Psi U due to rape allegations has sparked debate over the role of fraternities in sexual assault, and their presence on college campuses. Zach Schonfeld ’13 has written two in-depth articles on the matter. The first explores the history of various universities that have decided to get rid of their fraternities, and the follow-up wondering if Wesleyan will be the next to do the same.
A recent piece in The Nation explores the worrying fate of publically engaged academic intellectuals in the university system, reflecting on the recent firings of two Columbia professors.
Unless you shut yourself off from the world this past week, you probably read, or at least heard mention of, The Atlantic’s feature story on fraternities and their dangers, which highlighted Wesleyan University and Beta Theta Pi. The article explores the role of fraternities on campuses, especially in the crafting of party culture and the rise of sexual assault. The article is long, but well worth the read, and has reopened space for dialogue on these issues.
Image via The Atlantic
“The Dark Powers of Fraternities” was published this morning by The Atlantic. The article is the culmination of a yearlong investigation into the systemic power of fraternities and the tragedies derived therein, and prominently (ignominiously) features our very own Wesleyan University and Beta Theta Pi. In brief, the article describes fraternity organizations’ thoroughly American heritage, their roles in transforming the nature of higher education from the priest-factories of yesteryear into the often-outrageous party scenes of the modern day, and the complex trade-lanes of power, litigation, fundraising, and tragedy that have allowed the fraternity infrastructures to survive and thrive among even the most progressive of Universities. The article gets many, many things right, and I thoroughly agree with the sentiment of the author—that colleges and universities are institutionally and structurally threatened by powerful organizations with outdated (and morally detestable) principles and priorities.
The article also gets a few minor points wrong, and misses a larger point: the cultural attitudes we—as Wesleyan students, as American collegians, literally as humans—accept and collectively promote bears as much responsibility for the horrors described as do unscrupulous power structures protecting that culture. In other words, I am responsible for the continuation of awful events like those brought to light in “The Dark Powers of Fraternities,” and so are you.
From graduate student Sarah Chrystler ’13:
Celebrated author, Ta-Nehisi Coates, will read from his upcoming work on Thursday, October 10th, 2013 at 8:00 p.m. in Wesleyan University’s Russell House, 350 High Street, Middletown, CT.
Ta-Nehisi Coates is a senior editor for The Atlantic and the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle. Coates lives in New York with his wife and son. His work for The Atlantic received the 2012 Sidney Hillman Prize for journalism about social justice and issues of public policy. His essay “Fear Of A Black President” won the National Magazine Award.
The New York Observer said of the author “At 37, Mr. Coates is the single best writer on the subject of race in the United States,” while Hendrik Herztberg wrote “He is an upholder of universal values, a brave and compassionate writer who challenges his readers to transcend narrow self-definitions and focus on shared humanity.”
Free and open to the public. A reception and book signing follow the reading. For more information about this event: Call 860.685.3448 or visit this website. For program information, contact Anne Greene, agreene[at]wesleyan[dot]edu or 860.685.3604.
Date: Thursday, October 10
Place: Russell House, 350 High St.
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:
“In Middletown, the connection between those ignored by society who then come back to cause harm is difficult to overlook.”
In the days and hours after the Newtown shooting, my thoughts turned to Johanna Justin-Jinich ’10, the Wesleyan student who was senselessly gunned down in Broad Street Books in 2009. A prefrosh at the time, I wasn’t on campus. I followed the tragedy, in horror and shock, from the safety of my parents’ house, and I fielded uncomfortable questions from high school classmates who asked if I was going to “the school where that girl was killed.”
I’m not the only member of the Wesleyan community for whom Sandy Hook triggered memories of 2009. First came a blog post from Professor Claire Potter, who reflects on faculty experiences in the wake of Justin-Jinich’s murder and argues forcefully against proposals to arm teachers. Then followed a Huffington Post column from President Roth, who advocates for gun control and writes, “If we falter, if we think the politics too difficult or too complicated, we should remember Johanna.”
“Violence and Mental Illness in Middletown, Connecticut” is the latest, a sprawling Atlantic piece that weaves together the shooting of Justin-Jinich, the 2012 outrage over Middletown elementary school “scream rooms,” and the horrific 1989 stabbing of a young girl on Main Street into a portrait of a small city still haunted by violence and stigmatization of the mentally ill. (David Peterson, the schizophrenic man who stabbed nine-year-old Jessica Short as her family looked on, had just escaped from Connecticut Valley Hospital, where Stephen Morgan is now held. Like Morgan, Peterson was later ruled insane.)
Salamé, finals lovers. Tired of working, but had your fill of Flash games and all those fucking cats? Today’s procrastination destination will hopefully prove both thought-provoking and a welcome respite (at the same time (somehow)) from studying and Microsoft Wording. In Focus, The Atlantic‘s blog of obscenely high-quality and high-significance photography, recently finished publication of their top 120 images summarizing 2011.
Curated by Alan Taylor, the stunning photography includes, as always, descriptions of the context of the photos, often answering the “what happened next?” question a few might raise. Photos in the series cover some of the year’s major events in what seems to be generally chronological order, including the Fukushima disaster, the end of the Space Shuttle era, major sporting events, more than one aviation accident, and a hell of a lot of angry people in the streets – photos from the Arab Spring (especially Egypt and Libya), European austerity protests, and the Occupy Wall Street movement dominate. Despite all of the above, it does does have its fair share of light-hearted or otherwise fun work.
The series was published in three parts of 40 photos each – check out one, two, and three in order for maximum continuity. For more In Focus collections, try out this series from the first two weeks at Zuccotti Park, VLADIMIR PUTIN, or this series (a hit online from last year) that I totally thought was from The Atlantic but is actually from Boston.com’s The Big Picture. [Friendly protip: you can scroll image-by-image using the left and right arrow keys, or j and k.]
Let’s talk about all that money that you’re spending on college, and more important, how you’re spending it.
Now, it is not my sincere intention to deflate anybody’s boners here – what with the new school year approaching and all – so this is somewhat optional reading if you’re really, really keen on that whole ignorance is bliss nonsense. But this is a red-button issue if there ever was one, and it behooves one to at least become marginally familiar with the general shape of the pretty stupid conversation that’s going on about it right now.
It is very, very difficult for such a small person as myself to think about, write on, or even hint upon the rather complex and delicate topic of the college debt issue. And truthfully, this isn’t going to be a very coherent or original post, but that isn’t the goal here. The goal is to get something going.
(Disclaimer: Much of this is an opinion piece.)