Tag Archives: Wesleyan fight song

R&C Tent Party Recap

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If you’ve never stayed for Reunion & Commencement weekend, the idea of a party in a tent might have raised an eyebrow; but those who are familiar with the event surely know better. The annual tent party was located in a ginormous tent on Andrus, which, to my terribly inaccurate estimation, felt even larger than a football field. The music was performed by a band featuring several Wes alums, Kinky Spigot and the Welders, known as “an unstoppable cosmic force of booty-crunching goodness” who certainly didn’t disappoint.

Primal Scream: Winter 2012 Edition

Dozens of students poured out of Olin and raced across Church Street last night at approximately 11:58 pm to take part in the midnight Primal Scream. The screaming, lasting way longer than I’d originally anticipated, was followed by a rowdy rendition of the Wesleyan Fight Song (awkward moment when the girl in front of me tried to start the fight song and was cut off by a couple of guys singing the fight song louder).

To all of you with finals (and especially you peeps with 7 pm finals tonight), may the odds be ever in your favor.

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Amanda Palmer on Performance Art, “Wesleyan Fight Song,” Being Covered in Fake Blood

“I wanted to write a mock Wesleyan fight song. And then I heard the actual Wesleyan fight song, and it wasn’t very interesting, so I just wrote a song about torching the school.”

Shortly before Amanda Palmer ’98 took to the stage (err, floor) for last Friday’s intimate “ninja gig” at Eclectic, Aural Wes’ Waka Flocka Feinstein ’13 caught wind via Wesleying of the performer’s surprise presence on campus. A longtime fan of Palmer’s work, the film major and Static Stamina frontman acted fast: he grabbed his camera, temporarily unprivatized his Twitter, and set up an interview within the half hour in one simple tweet:

The result, which surfaced on Aural Wes earlier today, is a fascinating and darkly hilarious conversation focused largely on a topic previously shrouded in mystery and taboo: Palmer’s experiences at Wesleyan in the ’90s—and just why they were traumatic enough to warrant a scathing (if hilarious) bastardization of the Wesleyan Fight Song.

A Rare Amanda Palmer-Related Musical Find

What did you do over break? Will Feinstein ’13 managed to track down a rare live recording of Amanda Palmer ’98 of Dresden Dolls fame performing “Wesleyan Fight Song” (no, not the actual fight song) during a 2004 performance at Wesleyan. The unreleased track is either a brilliant tribute to Palmer’s Wes career or a scathing indictment of the school. Maybe it’s both. Some choice sample couplets:

  • “Got sexually harassed by DKE / Recovered and composed a Wespeak”
  • “College Row is burning down / It’s Armageddon Middletown!”
  • “Sent Doug Bennet flowers, raped a sex offender / Pierced my nose and changed my gender”

Feinstein managed to obtain the recording only by contacting its top (and, perhaps, only) listener on Last.fm. He only realized he was sitting on a rare treasure, however, on last week’s Wesleyan Birthright trip, when he showed it to Scott Greene ’13, who had previously searched for the track to no avail. (According to a 2004 Argus article, this was part of a 2/13/04 Dresden Dolls show at Eclectic, during which Palmer prefaced “Wesleyan Fight Song” and “Valentine’s” as songs she wrote at Wes, “never heard before and hopefully never heard again.”) Here’s the song:

Some discussion questions: Is Amanda Palmer harboring some bizarre internal malice towards her alma mater, manifesting itself in lines like “I don’t care if you burn away”? Does this make her the first prominent alumnus ever to return to campus to express bitterness towards Wes in song? How many of her ’90s Wesleyan references are still relevant? When will MGMT write a tribute to us?

Here’s a cover performance by a talented YouTube pianist by the username of “addnamehere.” Goodness knows where he learned the song.

So start the semester off in style: with an uncomfortably aggressive song about burning Wesleyan down.

The Class of 2013 moves in

Ahh, freshman move-in. Fresh faces, Tibetan prayer flags everywhere. The Wesleyan Connection posted videos of the class of 2013’s arrival last week. Here are a few:

A snappy Eurodance mix version, featuring a lot of speedwalking and Michael Roth at 00:58. Is that a Three Wolf Moon shirt at 1:40?

An overview by Lauren Valentino ’10, featuring Target commercial music and more speedwalking:

Aw, international students are introduced to the Wesleyan fight song:

See more photos and videos at the Wesleyan Connection.

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

What are we accomplishing?

So I randomly found this livejournal entry from a high schooler that paraphrases a rather…interesting… story about her experience applying to Wes.

[…]After tutoring, I hit the school gym and ran into _____, the teacher I’m working with, and we shot the shit and lifted stuff for about an hour. We talked about racism, college and stuffs.

For instance, he no longer writes recs for Wesleyan or recommends the school to kids… because of me.

I wanted Wesleyan because it made every lit-loving funny bone come out and dance. College of Letters! Secret Societies! Yay!
However, Wesleyan did not love me, and deferred me. _____ wrote me a rec and afterwards phoned Wesleyan, quite puzzled.

Call 1:
_____ : She’s actually smart. Quite a lot of smart. (ad nauseum)
Wesleyan: That’s nice. You seen her SAT scores.
_: Yes. They’re commendable.
W: Yes and no. We’re looking for students more capable in the maths and sciences, which [student] clearly isn’t. Thanks!

_: Math got you, [student].
Student: Always knew it would. Disappointed, but not overwhelmed. So, Oberlin?
_: Sure. My sister went there, I think you’d love it. Still, let me make one more call…

Call 2:
_: Are you SURE you don’t want [student]? If I were Wesleyan, I would.
W: No, we don’t. We want high SATs.
_: But she’s a great student. And a really dynamic kid.
W: We don’t care. We want higher SATs.
_: More than a really great student?
W: Yes.
_: Why?
W: We want to be Harvard.
_: Oh.
W: Yes.
_: Bye, then.
W: Ta.

So, no more recs for Wesleyan. Given my 1490 on the SATs, the school’s anal retentiveness is rather distressingly severe.

What’s most surprising to me was one of the comments:

“I thought about applying to Wesleyan but they felt too . . . science-y.”

Pardon me? Science-y? Wesleyan? Am I missing something? (And this from a neuro major, mind you.)

And speaking of the “We want to be Harvard” snark, I stumbled upon the livejournal of an alum who was on campus for the most recent R&C. He had a great story to tell:

Anyway, during Reunion, an alum, who was just awarded a distinguised something or other for journalism, sat down for a dual interview/conversation with both Doug Bennett and Colin Cambell. One of the questions she asked was what each President’s fondest memory was of their tenure at Wesleyan. For a moment, I wondered if Bennett would tell this story, and then, to my great delight, he did.

The story begins about halfway through my freshman year during a final exam review session for micro-economics. Gil Skillman, the professor, happened to mention in passing that he was on a committee to give Wesleyan a new slogan: The Independent Ivy. The class groaned in response. In fact, when it was officially announced, pretty much the whole community groaned.

Apparantly, the administration decided that Wesleyan wasn’t nearly well-known enough. What it needed was a “catchy little slogan to bolster a market plan” and so it paid some consultant $100,000+ to come up with something. He, being an outsider, reasoned that everyone finds Ivy league schools appealing, so Wesleyan should try to get on that bandwagon. But we weren’t really part of the Ivy league, it needed an additional adjective, one that denoted that we were separate, but connoted that we had an irrepressible free spirit: Independent. Besides, everyone likes alliteration.

While this might have looked good on paper, especially to someone who never went to the school, it was reviled by just about everyone (faculty, students, alumni) who did. Many people chose Wesleyan because it wasn’t an Ivy league school. To us, Ivy implied a stuffy enslavement to tradition and legacies, while Wesleyan celebrated iconoclasm and creativity. It also implied that we weren’t as good as the ivies, so we have to steal their reputation. “Diversity University” while never officially adopted, at least seemed to communicate something that Wesleyan valued.

This continued for nearly two years with a student group forming called “Poison Ivy” whose sole purpose for existing was to dissuade the administration of adopting this slogan. I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the phrase, but was too busy to actively pursue its destruction. Which made it all the more ironic when I had a hand in doing just that.

Back then I was part of the Wesleyan Singers and, in addition to our concerts, we were sometimes invited to sing at the President’s house for things like his Christmas Party or Homecoming. Neely Bruce, the professor who conducted us, hated the slogan as much as anyone and composed a song, with a little input from us regarding the lyrics. Somewhere, buried in my records, I have a copy of the sheet music, but it went along the lines of “We’re not the Independent Ivy, and we like it just that way.” I do remember it had two verses.

Anyway, during the Friday night of Homecoming (was it ’99? see this is where I’m starting to forget things), we had a concert where we debuted this song. It met with glorious approval from the audience. Immediately after, we were supposed to sing some old college tunes for the President and the trustees at a party at the President’s house. We talked about whether we should sing there or not. I actually was against the idea since I thought it would mean never being invited back. Here we were, essentially insulting our host in song; not the most polite thing to do. Fortunately, I was over-ruled.

Somehow, Bill Wasch, a trustee at the time, seemed to know what was going to happen. It was odd since Neely didn’t tell him anything and, while I might have mentioned to him that a song was in the works, I certainly didn’t say this was where we were going to sing it. But, whether through supernatural powers or whatever, he seemed to subtly hint that this was the time and place, and after singing a couple traditional things like “The Bells of Old South College” we broke out “The Ivy Song.”

To everyone’s astonishment, Doug Bennet, instead of berating us, turned to us and said, “If you sing that one more time, I will kill the slogan.” We did. And it was dead. Spontaneously, the singers and the trustees then immediately sung the happiest rendition of the Alma Mater I’ve ever heard and probably ever will hear. We clasped backs and swayed back and forth to the refrain of “Old ivied walls, old hallowed halls” and ended with an enthusiastic performance of “The Fight Song.” For once, there was no fighting between undergrads and alumni. We were all one, raising our voices together in song. It is little wonder that this was Bennet’s fondest moment of being at Wesleyan. I know it was mine.

As a small epilogue, I was running the Pep Band at the time. I talked to Bennett during the party and managed to convince him to sing “The Ivy Song” with as many other people as I could find, in front of the football stands the next day during the homecoming game. While news of evening’s events were already racing across campus (I remember triumphantly returning to Alpha Delt loudly proclaiming the death of the slogan), this was Bennett’s official announcement that the slogan was forever dead and buried. It didn’t quite have the same amount of spontaneous energy the previous night had and it was hard to get the crowd’s attention, but we sang it. Loud and proud.