The 2008-2009 school year brought many changes including a financial crisis and a new American president. Here is a look back at several significant events at Wesleyan.
Reaching New ‘Heights’: A benefit performance of the Tony-award-winning Broadway musical “In the Heights,” created by and starring Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, raised $1.5 million for financial aid. First an anonymous donor informed the University that they had purchased all of the tickets for the Sept. 5 performance. The University then sold tickets at different price levels and 275 students received complimentary tickets. The money raised will support 38 scholarships.
Switching up Reading Week: The traditional end-of-semester schedule of a week-long reading period followed by a week of final exams was chopped up into two consecutive sets of two reading days followed by two exam days. The new schedule remains in place for this semester’s finals.
Admin Kills Pub Idea: From 1974 to 1984 the Cardinal Pub served beer on tap in Downey House. Discussions to revive the Cardinal Pub inside WesWings ran into zoning issues last year. Additionally, the administration decided not to pursue the matter because of liability and cost concerns, as well as the potentially harmful image associated with a university serving alcohol to students. The campus remains pub-less.
Construction Of Science Center Postponed: The difficult financial climate forced the indefinite postponement of construction of the new Molecular and Life Sciences facility. The building would have housed more labs, classrooms, and offices as part of a plan to better connect the sciences to the rest of campus. Plans to demolish Shanklin and Hall-Atwater in order to build the new center behind Exley were halted, as well.
Students Prepared For Election and Celebrated Obama: Students campaigned in various states and registered fellow students in the months leading up to the 2008 presidential election. On the night of the election, students packed into the Usdan University Center. When Barack Obama was declared the winner, the campus erupted in celebration—students cheered on Foss Hill, sang the Wesleyan Fight Song, danced in front of Usdan, and set off (slightly illegal) fireworks.
Girl Talk Concert Sells Out: Tickets sold out within three hours when word got out that mash-up artist and deejay, Gregg Gillis, a.k.a. Girl Talk, would perform in Bacon Field House. Tickets cost $5 and the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) and a donor matched the ticket sales. The event raised $30,000 for financial aid.
Applications Up 22 Percent: After the pool of November Early Decision applications for the class of 2013 increased by 40 percent, everyone was curious if regular applications would decline. Instead, they rose as well, with over 10,000 total applications submitted. The increase allowed the University to increase the incoming class size without decreasing selectivity. In fact, it was the most selective year on record.
Six New Program Houses Approved: For the first time in years, ResLife approved applications for new program houses. Full House (cooking-focused), Writing House, Music House, Interfaith House, Light House (a non-denominational Christian house), and Farm House were selected from 17 applications. The houses are all located on Washington Street.
SJB Sanctions Eclectic: In March, the Student Judicial Board (SJB) announced that Eclectic would be banned from hosting events for the rest of the semester due to various charges stemming from a noise complaint. It was particularly controversial when the SJB allowed one exception to the ban—WesFest. Eclectic members appealed the ban but President Roth upheld the decision. Five days later, he overturned the ban, expressing his belief that Eclectic was committed to hosting events more responsibly.
Exley Dance Party: An unforgettable spontaneous dance party developed following a senior dance thesis that took place in the lobby of Exley Science Center. Such a large audience showed up to see the midnight performance of Molly Birnbaum ’09’s thesis that there were not nearly enough seats and many students watched the performance from outside Exley, peering through the windows. When the performance ended, music continued to play over the speakers and audience members began to dance. Hundreds of students, professors, and even a dog showed up.
Fire in Hall-Atwater: A fire in Hall-Atwater damaged science labs and left the building caution-taped off. The fire began when a chemical reaction set a ventilation hood in a chemistry lab on fire. No one was injured, but expensive equipment was damaged and the building required repairs.
Shooting at Red and Black Café: Johanna Justin-Jinich ’10 was fatally shot while working at Red and Black Café. The majority of the student body left campus and did not return until Stephen Morgan turned himself in to authorities two days later. The following week, a memorial service was held for Johanna outside of Usdan.