Tag Archives: wesleyan culture

“Wesleyan Blouse”: an actual product

Hay grlz. If the garments pictured below look like something from your ensemble, know that You Are Wesleyan.

wesleyan blouse french

wesleyan blouse

At least according to ModCloth, a “mod retro indie/vintage” online clothing store which is marketing the pink one as “Wesleyan Blouse in French Class“, and the green one as “Wesleyan Blouse in History Class“.

Um. Talk about niche marketing. This is the site’s description:

We think the educated ladies of Connecticut’s Wesleyan University would love to wear this ivy green/rose pink, vintage-inspired blouse! This asymmetrical top from Dainty June features a rainbow of over-sized buttons running down the front, a unique roll over collar with a notch accent, and cute cuffed sleeves. Match with a pencil skirt and oxfords for a look that will have cute study buddies following you around campus!

Cute!! The only semi-plausible reason I could think of why this exists was that some earnest Wes alum works for this company and wanted to shout this place out. But no Wesleyan graduate would be so devoid of irony as to write the above paragraph.

Anyway, I’m not sure what makes these clothes particularly suited to Wesleyan’s educated ladies. Is a Mad-Men-inspired ModCloth designer making an oblique reference to Matthew Weiner‘s alma mater? Is our character once again being confused with Wellesley‘s?

Especially in light of our recent collective identity crisis, I am really confused about what sort of image we project. Clearly Wesleyan has been presented as relatively fashion-forward in the recent past, but what is this?

Each blouse goes for $79.99. Are any of you educated Wesleyan ladies ironic enough/lacking enough in irony to wear one to history class? French class? Finishing school?

Are We Wesleyan? Thoughts about the new website

The Wesleyan website has been needing an overhaul for awhile, and after yesterday’s unveiling, it clearly got a major one. It seems more functional than it used to be, and it looks easier to find things than before. It’s more interactive – this Academic Sampler thing is cool.

But why is the entire site now an Admissions brochure? I wasn’t aware that we need to recruit new talent this desperately.

wesleyan new homepage2

The real big problem is the ill-advised “Are You Wesleyan?” series on the Admissions page, a series of trite rhetorical questions that are supposed to define our exceptional Wesleyan character. Or reveal our gloriously unique lack of definition, or something.

It’s more than a matter of taste. Yes, it’s clearly lame and makes Wesleyan students sound like tools. But moreover, it’s just trying way too hard. Why are you trying so hard, Admissions? It’s unseemly.

Applications are at a record high, and we already have a bigger draw than our peer institutions. Over the past few years Wesleyan has somehow greatly increased its cachet among applicants, without marketing itself as aggressively (and, well, desperately) as this Admissions page does.

Don’t mess with that! Whatever we’ve been doing has clearly been working. Advertising this blatant and un-self-aware will definitely not make Wes any more desirable than it already is to prospective students, and may well turn away those interesting, intellectually engaged applicants whose sensibilities are assaulted by the infuriatingly eager tone this site is trying to hustle them with.

Wesleying Unofficial Orientation Series: Wes Lingo

freshman_orientation

Hey Freshman! Welcome to our line of posts orientating you with information you won’t get in regular orientation week. Back in the early days of Wesleying, Holly and Xue founded Wesleying on seven hills of Middletown, and some of their earliest posts were about helping freshman get oriented to the social environment of Wesleyan University.  The Wesleying staff has taken it upon themselves to update these 3-year-old posts for the benefit of you, the new freshmen. Enjoy!

The (Updated) Guide of How to Talk the Talk of Wesleyan (old post here)

You:
Prefrosh
are technically prospective students still in high school (other schools call them Prospies, but don’t you fucking dare utter that word here), but some people keep calling students who have already matriculated “prefrosh” until the minute they step onto campus during orientation, whereupon they become freshmen. Additionally, you are forever your host’s prefrosh no matter what year you are. No, you will not be hazed.


Academics:
PAC
is for history/government/poli-sci majors, as is the new Albriton Center (formerly, Davenport). Fisk is for most humanities, Judd is where psychology majors live, and the Science Center is for science majors. Hall-Atwater, Shanklin and the Science Tower are all separate-yet-connected entities that are referred to as the Science Center. PAC lab is in PAC, STlab is in the Science Tower, and HASlab is in Hall-Atwater, although no one goes there. The CFA is that collection of concrete buildings where all of the Arts classes are located. Olin is where all of the humanities books are/ Science Library, or Sci-Li is where all of the science books are. The Art Library is in the Davidson Arts Center (not to be confused with the Davidson Health Center).  Never, ever, ever confuse COL (College of Letters) with CSS (College of Social Studies). The administration is all in North College except for the President, who’s in South College. The Bell Tower is in South College, the Clock Tower is in Memorial Chapel.

Living:
In Westco specifically, if you live on the second floor, you live in Up, and if you live on the first floor, you live in Down. For example, Westco 214 would be Down 2; Westco 125 would be Up 1. The Westco Cafe is not a cafe, but a performance space below Westco 2. Fauver is divided into Nearside and Farside (some prefer to divide it between the Long Hall and the Short Hall). “Butterfields” is almost never said in its entirety; instead, it’s Butt A, Butt B, Butt C. If you want to be really obscure, you can call the Butts EastCo, referring to its former status as “East College”. The space in the middle of the Butterfields is called The Butthole. There are also a variety of Program Houses, where people who share certain interests can bypass General Room Selection or (GRS); Reslife has a list of them here.

Leisure:
Loud/Living Spirits Day (formerly Duke Day), The Studio 54 Party and the Sex Party are in the fall. Ze Who Must Not Be Named Day (formerly Zonker Harris Day), The Valentine’s Day Party and Queer Prom are in the spring. On 4/20, Wes Students ritualistically gather on the hill to celebrate the pot-themed holiday. A Townie is a Middletown resident unaffiliated with the University, but the word has a somewhat negative connotation. The Tunnels can refer to any part of the tunnel system around campus, which are accessed by secret access points known only to a select few. The Tomb is the Skull and Serpent building next to the CFA, and they sometimes have crazy dance parties that are advertised by word-of-mouth.

Other stuff:

When eating at Usdan, there are two big rooms where people eat. They are differentiated in any of the following ways: Left/Right, Tray Return/No Tray Return, Coke/Pepsi (there are different dispensers next to each), Loud/Quiet.

WesTech is a word that will pop up every once in a while (via the ACB): “WesTech refers to everyone NOT dke/beta or mostly the “very Wesleyan” population. It comes from the idea that Wesleyan has unattractive girls and bad sports and thus, might as well be a Technical school: WesTech.” Apparently, however, this is a term used mainly by other schools to make fun of Wesleyan, and has been appropriated by the sports teams as a label of pride (Sports teams doing the ironic appropriation? Only at Wesleyan). A Techie was a term generally used by athletes to describe a “typical” Wesleyan student (artsy), or a “Techie.”

Hi Rise and Lo Rise are where most of the Juniors live. Lo Rise are those condo-y things between Church and Williams down the hill from High street, while Hi Rise is that apartment-y looking thing in the same complex.

Hope that was useful! (Any commenters who want to point out things we’ve missed can helpfully comment below and we’ll update the post ASAP).

We’ll be following up this post with updated posts on Dining at Wesleyan and Greek Life At Wesleyan, as well as some helpful Dorm Living FAQ’s and other important, useful and interesting information. See you soon!

President Roth: A Self-Assessment

roth-mikeIn case you missed it, President Michael Roth sat down for an interview with the Argus last week to talk about what he thinks he’s accomplished during his two years in office (budget-balancing, forming A Long-Term Plan) how Wes has changed since he was a student here thirty years ago, and what he plans for the future despite economic pressures.

There’s the typical talk about enhancing financial aid, increasing investment in the sciences, encouraging creativity, and maintaining a distinctive Wesleyan spirit/character/personality/etc.

But there are also the more ambitious goals of launching the “College of the Environment”, a major program which will eventually be on par with CSS and COL, doubling the number of international students attending, and actively encouraging all students to pursue senior capstone projects, which are all pretty big deals – we’ll definitely be hearing more about these in the future.

Roth thinks idealism has always been a constant among Wesleyan students, but apparently the fight song has grown in popularity in recent decades:

I belonged to Alpha Delta Phi and I was very involved with the activities of the fraternity but I’d never heard the fight song—I didn’t even know there was a fight song! Wesleyan students sing it not so much with irony as with glee. Of course, part of the student culture is oppositional and that’s also a very good thing, but I think we express our school spirit more freely today than in the past.

Do we really? How apathetic were students thirty years ago, if our generation represents a high point for Wesleyan school spirit?

Argus: Two Years In, Roth Looks Back

How did we miss this gem!?

I don’t know if you’ve gathered from what I post lately, but I’m doing a ton of research on college admissions for my thesis. Running through some newspaper articles tonight on Factiva, I came across this gem of a piece describing one family’s perception of Wesleyan that, while printed over a month ago, is just too hilarious not to post:

By the time we get to Wesleyan, it’s so hot that we may as well be in Louisiana, and we’re happy to discover that the admissions office offers bottles of chilled water, with its own Wesleyan label.

Not surprisingly, the admissions office, like those of other colleges we’ve visited, is filled with people who seem, more or less, just like us, trailing kids who seem, more or less, like Sam. There are slightly rumpled couples wearing sandals — with very little in the way of makeup on the women, lots of Eddie Bauer for the men — and boys and girls in various stages of nerves and excitement. Everyone radiates a kind of hopeful, earnest sameness.

But we’re early — by almost two hours — so rather than sit and study the other families, we scoop up our bottles of Wesleyan water and head out for a self-guided tour. This, of course, is different from a guided tour, because on it, you get no facts and figures about small classes, flexible programs of study, cooperative dorm living, sports, modern dance concerts, vegetarian and/or kosher cafeteria alternatives, or chemistry labs. Sam is particularly interested in seeing the library.

How big is this place, anyway?” he says. “How hard could it be just to find one stupid building?”

“I don’t think I even considered applying here,” Stuart says.

“My friend Amy went here and loved it,” I say. “I remember visiting her once . . .”

“You’ve told me this story, like, a thousand times before,” Sam says.

” . . . and the food was so amazingly good. I’ll never forget that.”

“Who cares about the food?”

“You will,” I tell him. “You’ll care about the food.”

And so it goes, until we decide, grumpily, if unanimously, to walk down the hill in the direction of Middletown proper for lunch. Where, once again, there are all these people who look like they might live in Berkeley, or the Upper West Side of Manhattan: people in Birkenstocks, the New York Times tucked under their arms; women with big silver jewelry, carrying notebooks and pens; teenagers so tall and good-looking that you wonder if maybe you’ve seen them before, perhaps in a movie . . .

Sam, picking up on social nuances, is glancing around nervously, and biting his lower lip. Perhaps he’s thinking, as I am, that the other kids here, in addition to having a certain quality of East Coast suave that Sam, with his Deep South upbringing, clearly lacks, also have SAT math scores superior to his. Especially the kid whose family, sitting just behind us, is vigorously debating the relative merits of MIT versus Caltech.

–by Jennifer Moses, Washington Post, June 3, 2007

Eclectic Turns 100

The Wesleyan Connection reports:

“Our reputation was one of respect from most everyone,” recalls Bill Moody ’59, P ’91.” We did not come across as rich or preppy or jock-filled or hyper-social or racist or nerdy. We did not dominate a given group or project or sport.”

Moody, author of the recently-published book, A History of the Eclectic Society of Phi Nu Theta, 1837-1970, shared memories with current and past Eclectic members during the 100th anniversary celebration of the completion of the Eclectic Society House May 26. The book is published by Wesleyan University Press.

Faces have come and gone, but the symmetrical brick house with a four-pillar façade at 200 High Street has changed very little.

“This house is truly what links the ever-changing society members,” says Eclectic Society member Omar Hunter Craighill ’09. “The house has very distinctive architecture and has been a very important part of campus for many generations of students.”

Formally named The Eclectic Society at Phi Nu Theta, the fraternity was established in the 1830s, when students began meeting for the purpose of helping each other with college studies, literary work and Saturday-evening social events. In 1837, the association became official, making it the first fraternity established at Wesleyan.

Now 170 years old, Eclectic is one of the oldest non-national fraternities in the United States. Many notable figures in Wesleyan’s history were members of Eclectic, including four who became Wesleyan presidents: Joseph Cummings, Class of 1840; Cyrus D. Foss, Class of 1854; John W. Beach Class of 1845; and Edwin D. Etherington ‘48.

Early Eclectic members gathered in a clubhouse; later they lived in a dormitory-like structure at 246 High Street. In 1900 they began extensive fund-raising for a home of their own, and in 1907, a house was completed. It was designed by Henry Bacon of New York City, who later designed the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. The house had the “largest and finest dance-hall of all the college houses,” wrote Billy North Rice, chairman of the organization’s Board of Directors in 1921.

“This building was the first step towards bringing a highly distinguished American architect to serve as de facto campus planner and architect for Wesleyan,” says Wesleyan Historian David Potts ’60, author of Wesleyan University, 1831-1910: Collegiate Enterprise in New England.

Bacon created Wesleyan’s first campus plan in 1913 and was the architect of the swimming pool addition to Fayerweather Gymnasium, the Skull and Serpent building, Van Vleck Observatory, Clark Hall, the Memorial Chapel Renovation of 1916, the South College belfry and the initial design for Olin Library. In 1923, Bacon won the highest award in his profession and Wesleyan’s campus “has by far the largest assemblage of his works, starting with Eclectic,” Potts says.

(more)

Advice for the Incoming President

Professor Claire Potter offers up some great advice for incoming President Michael Roth:

1. Be a walk around manager. Sure, being a President is time consuming. But schedule free time in your week that will allow you to drop in on people, take a stroll around the campus, and go have coffee in the new campus center. Show up where and when you are least expected. Go to talks. Come to the History Department Tea, and Pie Day at American Studies. Go over to Interlibrary Loan and order your own books so that you can say hello to hard-working people who will never be asked to meet you in a more private way. Presidents need a sense of who their constituents are before they come asking for something, or protesting something, or are Tangled Up In (some kind of) Blue.

2. Don’t inject the word “excellence” into everything you say and expect that we know what you are talking about, or that it answers any question about a course of action to be taken. What excellence actually represents is – well, nothing. It’s a buzzword, the verbal equivalent of a Rorschach test. And some of the great disagreements in education and scholarly life today have to do with prioritizing some kinds of knowledge over others and calling it “excellence.” Us queer and colored folk, for example, are exhausted by the continual requirement that we exhibit excellence that conventional people can translate into their own, conventional, world view. Look at our diversity as an intellectual institution, figure out where the energy is, and jump on the bandwagon. Find out what Zenith [Wesleyan] does best and do what you can to cultivate what you find. Find out what we don’t do and how it would enhance our life as a thinking community to start doing it.

3. Take a serious look at how large our administration has grown over the last decade, who pays for it, and what justifies it. It is very hard for faculty to understand why we spend every April hiring contingent faculty (fifty or sixty of them across the university) when we seem to add numbers-crunchers, Vice Presidents of This-and-That, and student services workers one after another. If we need all these people, and we don’t need teachers at a university, fine. But someone needs to tell us why. And exactly what our mission is as a liberal arts college if it isn’t having enough faculty to have the time and energy to pay attention to students as individuals.

4. Do what you can to stop the griping about Division III athletics and move on to things that really matter. This is not, whatever William Bowen says, a major problem that the liberal arts college must face. Sports are fun, and exercise is good for young adults. Over fifty-percent of the Zenith student body is involved in varsity athletics of some kind, and most of these kids are actually not recruits. For those that are, athletics is actually one of the few ways that working-class kids can still get into Zenith when they didn’t go to such a great public high school (which is, frankly, most public high schools), and in my experience these kids are just as academically capable as the children of celebrities and the wealthy alumni/ae legacies.

5. Start a campus-wide conversation about how much stress and anxiety students cope with, what we are doing as an institution that enhances that stress, and why, as a community, we talk about it as if it has nothing to do with discourses of “excellence” and our pedagogical practices. We wouldn’t need so many elaborate “student services” if students weren’t made so desperate during the college admissions process, and subsequently more desperate as they claw their way through college.

6. Here’s a good place to start addressing faculty stress: the tenure and promotion process at Zenith is a mess and it is taking far too much of our time for no good purpose. When you get to know us better, put together a committee of people *not* drawn from the people who have served on the T & P committee. This committee should hold public hearings, invite people from other universities and the AAUP to consult, and then put together a set of recommendations for university-wide reform of the personnel process. And while you are at it – reform the T & P committee. Many of them are (to be frank once more) zombies. And if they aren’t zombies before they are elected, they often become zombies as a result of their service. This doesn’t seem like a good outcome, and it means many of us who would actually be thoughtful about tenure and promotion would rather eat glass than serve on that committee.

7. Encourage the faculty to form an AAUP chapter. Give one or two members of the faculty a course relief to get it done. An organized faculty is a faculty that knows how to negotiate, cooperate, and adjudicate. And while you are at it — ask faculty why they don’t go to meetings. Figure out how to change that, and what kind of meeting the faculty would agree to go to. It’s demoralizing that we don’t, and because no one goes, it’s as demoralizing to go to faculty meetings as it is to stay home. Kind of like eating in an empty restaurant (which you look too cool to do.)

8. Let the students chalk on the sidewalk. It just really isn’t that important. And the students whose chalkings were originally banned have graduated anyway. I don’t think the students we have now even know how to chalk.

9. Make retirement a realistic possibility for faculty who are in their sixties and seventies. Provide incentives that signify how much you value past service and that simplify the lives of senior faculty in ways that enhance their last decade of service and enhance the quality of our community. Get faculty over the age of 67 out of the personnel process and out of governance (except in cases of extraordinary administrative competence), and provide resources for cultivating their teaching and scholarly lives. Very senior members of the faculty who are more concerned about who the next hire is going to be than how they are going to get their last book or two done before they die are not the people you want messing in decisions that affect what Zenith will be twenty years from now. These decisions belong to the younger generations who will live with them and have their careers shaped by them.

10. Zenith has lost much of its uniqueness in its quest for “excellence:” for those of us who have been here a while, sometimes you feel like you could wake up and be anywhere (except Williams. Never Williams.) Remember why you loved it here in the 1970’s, and see if you can’t bring some of that back. A good start would be to withdraw from the U.S. News and World Report College Rankings system.

The Purpose of a Student Blog

Wesleying is an interesting topic for discussion at Wesleyan. From what we can tell from our site stats is that most students read it daily (or some students are reading from six different computers a day which is sort of weird but ok, we’ll take it). A lot of faculty and staff are slowly admitting to read it. We can only assume that someone in the administration reads it. I mean, we can assume public relations does–like a hawk.

But most of the success of a blog (any blog) comes from the relationship between blogger and audience. That’s the fun part. That’s what distinguishes a blog like this from other things we could be doing. It’s dynamic. And given this, we can do a lot of things with it.

I’m thrilled at the proliferation of new student blogs like EON’s. It’s really satisfying watching students find a social medium where limitations are few and the costs are low.

Despite the ubiquity of “the blog” (because god knows everyone has a blog), a lot of people seem to want to relegate “the blog” into something less effectual than it could be. I’m probably more of the mindset to see the blog more than it actually is, admittedly, but at the same time I think it’s better to have too much faith than too little, sometimes.

So I’m putting it out there. What do you want Wesleyan’s “Blogosphere” to do for you? What can you do for Wesleyan’s Blogosphere? What are the stakes in creating a student space that, in many ways, lives and breathes entirely upon student effort. There is no one else to blame if it fails. But what is to gain if it succeeds?

What’s your take? What kind of space do you want to build?