Tag Archives: Wespeak

Fight the Power: Thoughts on Wesleyan’s Power Plant Proposal

Those who have not attended the minimally publicized meetings regarding the administration’s plans to build a new natural gas power plant on campus—it is time you paid attention.

After the Snowpocalyspe of last October, President Roth mandated that the University strive to reduce the risk of losing schooldays in the event of a similar weather emergency in the future. Some administrators and Physical Plant staff developed a plan to construct a natural gas co-generation power plant near Freeman Athletic Center to supplement a similar plant that Wesleyan built in 2008 on the corner of Williams and High Streets. This new plant, they claim, is necessary to allow us to go into “island mode” and avoid a blackout during the increasingly common extreme weather events. For a combination of logistical, budgetary, and moral reasons, I argue otherwise.

First, some background. The plan was set on trajectory behind closed doors, without input of the community or students, until Evan Weber ’13 gleaned through a comment made in passing at a sustainability meeting that this was being proposed. In fact, Wesleyan’s new Sustainability Coordinator, Jen Kleindienst, hadn’t heard of it either until about a week before Weber. By the time Weber organized an emergency organizing meeting, Wesleyan had already hired a firm to site and start designing the plant. As Weber told the Argus, “I want to start a conversation about the power plant with all constituents because students, professors, and other members of the community have been largely left out of the discussion.”

So why not have that discussion now?

There are many problems with the proposed plant, which are laid out in a recent Wespeak written by a few concerned students, including Weber and myself. These are what I believe to be some of the most compelling issues at hand:

A Repost: Silence is Not the Remedy for Rape

Hey, everyone – I’m taking a break from my usual idiocy to post something that probably can’t be stressed enough. Alanna Badgley ’13, a friend of mine, approached me about posting this on Wesleying before it was published in last Friday’s Argus. I’ll let the piece speak for itself:

To my fellow Wesleyan students:

Here at Wesleyan we tend to believe that we are a part of a progressive and diverse community dedicated to making sure that people of all backgrounds can feel comfortable, respected and safe. This is mostly accurate and so it is all the sadder that there is an unacknowledged darker side that endangers all of us. To be specific: so long as sexual assault continues to be ignored, accepted or excused (and, by some, encouraged) within our community, our campus will continue to be unsafe. As long as alcohol abuse allows us to lose sight of our values as a community, and as long as extreme intoxication is seen as “normal,” we will all be unsafe.

Please don’t assume that this is an attack on the administration for neglecting to address these issues or care for its students. On the contrary, in the past two years, Wesleyan has taken numerous steps to protect survivors of sexual assault, largely as a result of student input. However, we still have a significant problem with rape on this campus and we will continue to have this issue if our collective attitude about sex does not change. The administration can only do so much to clean up after our messes, and only we can decide to change the conversation. We wouldn’t need more resources to protect survivors of sexual assault if sexual assault stopped all together. The problem is that few of you really believe that is possible. Or maybe you are able to pretend that rape doesn’t actually happen at Wesleyan. Allow me to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit more about myself.

Support Wesleyan’s Janitorial Staff – PETITION

You gotta fight for your right to partyyyy! ...shit, I think that's the wrong song

Though you may not personally interact with them much (if at all), Wesleyan’s janitors play a critical role in the functioning of our school, cleaning up after the messes we make in our classrooms, dining halls, bathrooms, etc. everyday, constantly working to smooth the transition from one day to the next.

Yet for all of their tireless efforts, they receive “very little pay and even less recognition.” Due to a series of layoffs, the hard jobs of these workers have become even harder lately, and with a fast-approaching February 15th deadline for new bids on Wesleyan’s janitorial contract, the time to make your voice heard on behalf of our janitorial staff is now!

As excerpted from the upcoming Wespeak that will appear in this Tuesday’s Argus:

The workers on which Wesleyan depends deserve our respect. Wesleyan’s commitment to social responsibility must go beyond admissions flyers and parents’ weekend speeches. It must extend to the workers and members of our community on whom we depend.
[…]

Last Chance to Submit Wespeaks

From A. R. Gus ’68:

Are you there, Martin Benjamin?

It’s me, Argus.

Tomorrow is your last chance of the semester to submit Wespeaks! Air your grievances via the Argus website (there’s a link on the right side of the page) or just e-mail argus(at)wesleyan(dot)edu with “WESPEAK” in the subject line.

In other exciting Argus-related news, the Argus archives—which date back to 1868 and are available in print form on Olin Floor 3A—are finally being digitized as soon as this summer, thanks to funding from the WSA’s Campus Initiative Fund. Executive Editor Lydia Tomkiw ’11’s “Editor’s Notebook” column has the details:

Public Dean’s List Is Public: Discuss?

Last week, controversy spilled onto the ACB regarding the publicizing of each class’s Dean’s List (read: GPA of at least 93.35 with at least 3.00 graded credits) on its respective class blog. For some, the decision to make public this information—a first—constitutes a violation of academic privacy, or an affront to Wesleyan’s proclaimed emphasis on learning over grades, or just generally “a high school thing to do.” A few anonymous ACB-ers weigh in:

  • “i can’t actually believe that the names were posted online. yes, my name is on the list for my class, but i don’t like the sense of competition and knowing who has what GPA that it gives.”
  • “Releasing the list of names feels like a high school thing to do. One of the nice parts of Wesleyan is the laid back atmosphere. Turning it into an open competition is a stupid idea. Everyone should just ignore it.”
  • “I’m on another year’s list…wish this wasn’t online. So pointless.”
  • “i don’t like it. makes me feel uncomfortable to have other people know my gpa, even though it is pretty good. so glad no one posted my year’s list on the acb. this is such competition-encouraging, ego-boosting bullshit.”

Word. Yesterday’s Argus brings more thoughts on the public Dean’s List: a Wespeak (and petition) from Rachel Pincus ’13, who calls the decision “inimical to Wesleyan’s values of collaboration, community, and learning for learning’s sake”:

Wesleyan Community Demands a Staff Position Dedicated to Sexual Violence

The following is also published as a Wespeak in today’s Argus. Keep an eye out for a response from the administration:

The one-year anniversary of Johanna Justin-Jinich’s murder is fast approaching. This Thursday, May 6th will mark for the Wesleyan community one year that has passed since we lost Johanna in what was undeniably one of the most horrific acts of violence this campus has, and ever will, experience. Her murder was a hate crime, a ruthless act of gender violence and anti-Semitism.

Gender violence is a persistent problem on this campus, as was once again brought to the fore by the recent Wespeaks written by students who have been sexually assaulted at Wesleyan, as well as those written by staff and students calling for greater administrative accountability to issues of gender violence prevention and response. Additionally, at the forum on campus violence on Tuesday, April 27th, students, staff, and alumni came together to discuss possible improvements to Wesleyan resources.

Students have been working with the university for years to improve University policy, response, and prevention around issues of sexual and gender violence on campus but still have found little sustained administrative support. The only way more effective resources, policies, and prevention efforts can be put into place is to establish a full-time staff position that would be responsible for advocating on behalf of survivors of sexual and gender violence, heading sustained prevention efforts, and helping all members of the Wesleyan community work together to build a campus that is safe for everyone. Safety means a community in which everyone is accountable for creating an environment that promotes respect, consent, critical thinking, and sex-positivity.

Persistent student pressure on the administration resulted in the creation of the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) Intern, but this position alone cannot adequately address a campus climate of gender violence. The intense responsibilities of the position are too demanding for any one student to carry out effectively. Although there are various support systems in place for students (i.e. the faculty/staff on SART & OBHS), it is unfair and unsustainable that the only person on campus who is paid to be specifically knowledgeable about sexual assault and gender violence is a ten hour per week student position that isn’t even written into a specific departmental budget. The Intern position currently gets its funding through the SBC.

The University has a responsibility to invest in a staff position which would allow us to address this pervasive violence. This isn’t a question of available funding, but a question of priorities. Comparable schools such as Barnard, Amherst, Trinity, Bates, Bard, Skidmore, Bowdoin, Colorado College, Lewis and Clark, Whitman, and Brown have invested in at least one staff position, and it’s time for Wesleyan to follow suit.

The above document circulated via the internet for only three days and, in that time, received formal support from 536 members of the Wesleyan community: 405 students, 47 alum, 37 parents/family members, and 27 members of the Wesleyan faculty/staff.

Martin Benjamin ’57 Strikes Back

This Tuesday’s Argus brought to campus the vicious return of über-conservative favorite Martin Benjamin ’57. His semi-coherent latest Wespeak is “An Open Letter to Roth,” wherein he lashes out against Senator Edward Kennedy Hon ’84 and, at one point, likens President Roth to “a teeny-bopper who’d just been goosed by her first crush.” (Quote of the century?)

Compiled here is a collection of Benjamin’s fiery Wespeaks over the past decade. But for a glimpse at a more youthful, innocent Mr. Benjamin, I present to you his portrait in the 1957 yearbook, as discovered in Olin. Might I suggest it accompany his future Wespeaks, if only to put his ranting and raving into perspective?