As the days lengthen, Foss Hill repopulates, finals draw near, and the year comes to an end, we at the Argus inevitably turn our thoughts to history. We hunched, ink-stained scribblers of the Fourth Estate cannot help but wonder how the news we have covered will fit into the longue durée of Wesleyan and global history. And, frankly, this year we have noticed a distinct dearth of scandal, ineptitude and malfeasance on which to report.
Last year, there was a seemingly endless deluge of conflict and umbrage. First came the dissatisfaction with the newly-opened Usdan; then arose the threats of a strike among the dining workers and the general dissatisfaction with the new dining services company. Then in the second semester, conflict between the administration and the student body flared over the elimination of Zonker Harris Day and President Roth’s undiplomatic characterization of what many saw as an important Wesleyan tradition. More conflicts between labor and capital emerged after physical plant workers announced that they could not accept the contract their representatives had agreed to and then engaged in several vocal protests. The chaotic year culminated with attacks by police on students at Fountain Avenue. And throughout it all, SEWI, WesPeace and other advocates of divestment agitated intensely in what was an ultimately unsuccessful campaign.
As far as we can tell, the conflicts that have emerged this year do not come close to matching last year’s rancor. Only the closure of Eclectic seemed to captivate the campus like the struggles of yesteryear. Most of the urgent news we’ve recorded in these pages has been a result of the financial meltdown—and while nobody likes budget cuts, protesting the University’s lack of funds is like protesting the tide coming in. We might not like sacrifices that we need to make, but it is difficult to decry them.
Overall, this year has seemed fairly quiet and gentile. Even the treatment of our
University in the press has seemed more respectable of late. Last year, we were mocked in Gawker; this year, the New York Times reports on our booming application numbers. Perhaps last year’s discord resulted from the novelty of a new president, new dining services and a new sex magazine. Perhaps conflict was inevitable as the campus and the new arrivals adjusted to one another. Perhaps we have returned to a normal state of peace and quiet. Or perhaps quarrels will erupt next year when we need to decide between cutting financial aid and laying off staff, or some equally noxious course of action.
Maybe the docility of our campus is the result of changes in the world around us. A government whose malevolence was matched only by its incompetence has been replaced by a popular, well-meaning administration. Once again, perhaps this is a temporary lull. Perhaps President Obama will prove too conservative in confronting our economic slowdown for the public to tolerate and he will touch off a wave of agitation unmatched since 1894. Or perhaps he will reveal his socialist loyalties and initiate a cultural revolution. But for now America and Wesleyan watch patiently. When future Argus editors pour through their yellowing archives in search of inspiration, we imagine that they will declare this the era of Wait-and-See.