Tag Archives: wesprep


Franni Paley ’10 writes:

Up the Ridge is a one-hour documentary produced by Appalshop’s Amelia Kirby and Nick Szuberla.

In 1999, Kirby and Szuberla were volunteer DJ’s for the Appalachian region’s only hip-hop radio program in Whitesburg, KY when they received hundreds of letters from inmates transferred into nearby Wallens Ridge State Prison, the newest prison built to prop up the region’s sagging coal economy. The letters described human rights violations, racial tension, and cultural conflict between staff and inmates.

Filming began that year and, through the lens of Wallens Ridge, the film offers viewers an in-depth look at the United States prison industry and the social impact of moving hundreds of thousands of inner-city minority offenders to distant rural outposts.

Up the Ridge explores competing political agendas that align government policy with human rights violations, and political expediencies that bring communities into racial and cultural conflict with tragic consequences.

Presented by RISE (Resisting Imprisonment for a Safer Existence – formerly WesPREP)

Contact: Sylvia Ryerson ’09 (sryerson@wes) or the RISE listserve (wesleyanrise(at)googlegroups(dot)com)

Facebook event here.

Date: Thursday, October 22, 2009
Time: 8:00pm – 9:00pm
Location: PAC 002

National Public Health Week at Wesleyan April 6-10

National Public Health Week 2009April 6 marks the beginning of National Public Health Week, and HealthCAN, WesPREP, ASHA, and AMSA are collaborating to hold public health-related events to raise awareness.

The purpose and goals of the broader National Public Health Week in which these groups are participating is neatly summed up on the official website:

Despite the dramatic progress achieved through a century of public health advancements — the elimination of polio, fluoridation of drinking water and seatbelt laws — our nation’s health falls far short of its potential. Our progress has stalled, and we have reached a point where we must examine our health system and the foundation upon which it stands.

We have the potential to greatly improve our population’s health in the future. By recommitting ourselves to support our nation’s public health system, we can build on the successes of the past and establish the solid foundation needed for a healthy nation.

National Public Health Week Events at Wesleyan:

Sick Around America Film Screening – An investigation into the failures of America’s health care system. Discussion will follow. (Co-Sponsored by HealthCAN)
Date: Monday April 6
Time: 8:00 PM
Place: PAC 002

Health and Prisons Presentation – Come hear Jamal Ahmed ‘09, Hannan Braun ‘09, and Roy Chung ’09 present on prison rape, mental health care in prisons, and the prevalence of tuberculosis in prisons.
Date: Tuesday April 7
Time: 6:30 PM
Place: Usdan 110

Write to your legislator day! – We’ll have materials ready for you to write, email, or call your legislator to voice your support of immediate health reform in the US.
Date: Wednesday April 8
Time: 12:00 PM
Place: Usdan Café

Free STI Testing
Date: Thursday April 9
Time: 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Place: Eclectic

Health Policy and a Pint – This will be a session for anyone interested in health policy. We will discuss current topics in health policy and address what we, as students, can do to enact political change.
Date: Friday April 10
Time: 12:00 PM
Place: Exley 137

New Haven to "ban the box?"

I remember way back my freshman year, WesPrep was petitioning to “Ban the Box” in Connecticut – that is, to not allow employers the “Do you have a criminal record?” question on job applications. According to a Friday New York Times article, it looks like that might happen, at least in New Haven:

On job applications for city jobs and jobs with city contractors, applicants must now check a box to indicate they have a criminal record. The human services committee of the Board of Aldermen unanimously approved a proposal two weeks ago to remove the box on the job applications, and on Tuesday the full board will vote on the matter.

If the proposal is approved, New Haven will join other cities, including San Francisco, Baltimore and Minneapolis, that have voted to remove the question on their job applications. Proponents of the move say that people who have done their time deserve jobs, too, and the current job application question usually means they are dismissed out of hand no matter what their skills.

If implemented, the question about past criminal history would be moved to the end of the job application process, Ms. Matos said. Only after an applicant is interviewed and given a conditional offer of employment would a criminal background check take place. If a person is found to have a criminal history, and are then not hired, they would be given the chance to offer a rebuttal.

As many as 25 formerly incarcerated people are released in New Haven every week, according to the state Department of Correction.
[Read more.]


Lecture About Mumia Abu-Jamal

Wesleyan SDS, Amnesty International, WesPrep and the Center for African American Studies are sponsoring a lecture about Mumia Abu-Jamal by J Patrick O’Connor, author of The Framing of Mumia Abu-Jamal and Professor Johanna Fernandez of Educators for Mumia. They will be speaking about the Mumia’s case, his chances for a retrial and about other political prisoners.

Date: Wednesday, November 19
Time: 7pm
Place: Exley 150

Courant article: way problematic?

Wes theater prof Ron Jenkins wrote an article headlined “Shakespeare’s Words Resonate With ‘Thugs’” in the Hartford Courant about Wesleyan students working with incarcerated teenagers at the Walter G. Cady School at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School. The article is currently being featured on Wesleyan’s homepage.

However, the article is controversial, possibly trivializing the experiences of the CJTS teenagers and Wesleyan students alike, as though this were a mere social experiment or charity event, and ignoring the underlying problems implied by a system where students clearly just as intelligent and capable of analyzing Shakespeare are instead incarcerated and prevented from reaching that potential. Jenkins writes:

The Wesleyan students had learned to see much more of Sam than the narrow sliver the rest of the world might call a “thug.”

To them he was a scholar. They brought him a stack of books as a going-away present. I gave him a copy of “The Tempest” to remind him of the insights he had gleaned in our class.

However, Joss Lake ’08 has another perspective, which provides an important counterpoint to the view represented in the Courant article:

I was shocked and deeply embarrassed by the headline on the Wesleyan homepage that read “Jenkins: Wesleyan Students Share Bard with ‘Thugs’.” Although the term “thug” was taken straight from a teacher’s statement about her students at the Cady School (part of the Connecticut Juvenile Training School), Prof. Jenkins in no way qualified the statement – in fact, his article seemed bemused that “we would be learning as much about Shakespeare from the Cady School students as we would be teaching them.”

The use of the word “thug” and Prof. Jenkins’ framing of the program seems to ignore the systemic racism and classism that underlies the prison system and appears entirely insensitive to the unequal power dynamics between privileged Wesleyan students and students who attend a juvenile training school. His tone within the article expressed a prejudiced surprise that the Cady School students could engage with such an icon of “high” literary culture, Shakespeare. Rather than calling into question elitist assumptions about intelligence, readership or perspective – assumptions that the program should have dealt with before it ever became a Wesleyan-sanctioned course – Prof. Jenkins’ comments seemed to reinforce them. I admire the potential the program might have had as a way of de-centering the university classroom as the site of legitimate knowledge, but as far as I understood the program based on the article, I don’t think the program questioned notions of power and privilege within academia.

The end of the article goes so far as to say that “the Wesleyan students had learned to see much more of Sam than the narrow sliver the rest of the world might call a ‘thug.’ To them he was a scholar.” Yet even this statement expresses sentimental surprise at the apparent incongruity between an incarcerated young adult and a Shakespearean scholar. I think the headline should be removed, of course, and that the foundations of the program itself should be questioned.

Thoughts are welcome.

Make a Card for Connecticut Prisoners

Come connect outside the Wesleyan Bubble and write letters of support to prisoners in Connecticut and elsewhere, to let them know people are thinking about them. Card-making materials and snacks will be provided. Feel free to bring your favorite poems or crosswords or comics or any little activites or fun things you think might be nice to include (just make sure it’s in English – the cards will have to be screened beforehand).

What: Make a card for Connecticut prisoners
When: Friday, April 25 (tomorrow!) from 3-5 pm
Where: the old WSA building – that is, 190 High St.

Sponsored by WesPrep & 156 High

This week: Incarceration Across Contexts

As part of April Awareness Month, this week will have a series of events related to the theme “Incarceration Across Contexts,” sponsored by ADAPT, WESPREP, and APRIL. Check out the schedule:

Monday, March 31st

Film screening of HotHouse – a film about Palestinians incarcerated in Israel.
When: 8 pm
Where: Shanklin 107
About the movie:

Almost ten thousand Palestinians, designated by the Israeli government as “Security Prisoners,” are incarcerated in Israel today. Granted rare permission to film inside the country’s highest security facilities, Israeli filmmaker Shimon Dotan explores the everyday life of Palestinian prisoners, including biweekly family visits, internal elections, periodic security searches of cells, and relations between inmates and prison staff. The film shows the culture that has developed in the prisons, such as how they have become incubators for political education, organization, and debate, which often influences Palestinian society at large. HOTHOUSE also features interviews with many Palestinian prisoners, including those involved in suicide bombings

Tuesday, April 1st

What: Talk by Dean Spade: “Resistance and Cooptation in Queer and Trans Political Struggles” + free dinner
When: 6:15 pm
Where: Daniel Family Commons (in Usdan)
About the Speaker: Radical thinker, social justice activist, and lawyer, Dean Spade founded the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a collective non-profit focused on gender, racial, and economic justice.

Thursday, April 3rd

What: Talk by Danielle Sered: “Restorative Justice”
When: 7 pm
Where: Shanklin 107
About the Talk: Sered speaks about the implementation of alternative models for sentencing “criminals” in which dialogues between the immediately impacted parties produce alternatives to imprisonment.

Monday, April 7th

What: Film screening of “Cruel and Unusual”
When: 8 pm
Where: Shanklin 107
About the movie: “an unflinching documentary on the lives of transgender women in men’s prisons. Shot over three years, this documentary film challenges the viewer’s basic ideas about gender and justice.” (www.cruelandunusualfilm.com).

Wednesday, April 9th

What: Talk by Ghada Karmi: “Israel and Palestine at 60: Is There a Solution?”
When: 8 pm
Where: PAC001
About the speaker: Born in Jerusalem, Karmi was forced to leave as a child in 1948. She was raised in Britain, where she became a physician, academic and writer. Currently, Karmi is a research fellow and lecturer at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter, UK.

WesPREP to show "Corrections" on Wednesday

Jessie Spector ’08 writes:

Come to a WesPREP showing of the movie Corrections, a one-hour documentary about the privatization of the prison industry.

Corrections is a story of justice turned profit, where the ‘war on crime’ has found new investors: venture capital and for-profit prisons, a story of how private prisons have returned. It explores how prisons have fast become the accepted solution to unemployment and housing crises, crumbled schools and more, set within the scene of collapsed rural economies and the ‘urban decay’ of potentially expensive neighborhoods.”

Date: Wednesday, Feb. 20
Time: 4:30 PM
Location: PAC 002

Find out more about Corrections at correctionsproject.com.

Juvies: Bring the kids!

WesPREP, Wesleyan’s own prison activist group, will be showing the film Juvies tomorrow in PAC 001. According to some rando on the internets (who may or may not be a publicist in disguise):

This film is incredible! It is delivers a clear yet painful look at society’s forgotten children. This film should be required viewing at all educational institutions in this country. It easily will have many children “scared straight.”

Bonus: features Mos Def, is narrated by former thug Mark Wahlberg (aka Marky Mark), and there will be cookies. WesPREP is showing this film “to raise awareness about the campaign to Raise the Age at which juveniles can be convicted of adult crimes to 18”.

Date: Tuesday, February 20
Time: 4:15pm
Place: PAC 001