Well, it’s been about a week and a half, and the new Wesleyan.edu Admissions homepage is still up. But that doesn’t mean that the people behind “Are You Wesleyan?” are unaware of what the student body thinks of it. Assistant News Editor Amanda Schwartz ’12 has a very well done article in the most recent Argus that reveals precisely how much the administration has been paying attention to our complaints. Schwartz interviewed five staff members and administrators, including those who were intimately involved with the creation of the page, and they all seem to be slightly exasperated by the student body’s reaction. While most of those interviewed gently explained the rational behind the new Admissions page, Assistant Dean of Admission Tara Lindros hit back hard, arguing that students are looking for negatives and failing to see the larger picture.
“I understand students’ perspective on the nature of these questions,” Lindros wrote in an e-mail to The Argus. “However, I think that if every single question there applied to you, what would be particularly Wesleyan about that? If you want to see a negative in the questions, you’ll be able to find one. As someone who works every day to try to explain why the Wesleyan experience is one that is distinctive and worth investing in, I find the questions capture in many ways what we are trying to communicate about Wes. I wouldn’t expect each individual student to find that every one of those questions resonates with them.”
It is notable that Lindros says the questions capture “what we are trying to communicate about Wes.” Clearly, “we” means the Admissions Office. I think the point that the student body is making, if I may, is not that the questions don’t capture what Admissions is trying to communicate about Wesleyan, but that the questions don’t capture Wesleyan.
At the end of the article, we get a quote from President Michael Roth, who, interestingly enough, seems to distance himself from the new Admissions page.
“I think we can’t take it too seriously,” Roth said. “It’s not a label. It’s a revisable invitation to description. But we’re definitely not trying to create a firm detailed picture of what the Wesleyan student has to be.”
One unanswered question is how much Roth actually had to do with the “Are You Wesleyan?” page. It’s safe to assume he checked off on it at the end of the process, but it would be useful to know exactly how many meetings he was involved in discussing the new Admissions tagline. If he was deeply involved, his “revisable” remark becomes all the more interesting.
Overall, the Argus placed the “Are You Wesleyan?” controversy prominently in its hallowed pages last Friday. Mytheos Holt ’10 skewered the new Admissions site along with SDS, the ACB, WestCo, COL, Eclectic, and Film Studies Professor Jeanine Basinger in his weekly column. And in “Let’s Take a Constructive Approach,” the Argus Editorial Board calls for calm, encouraging students to work with the administration “instead of posting Facebook status updates, typing complaints on the ACB, or continuing to recycle jokes about Homer Simpson and staying up late to make friends for life.”
For good or ill, I think they may have already stopped doing that.