You’ll meet a lot of people during the first weeks of school, shake a lot of hands, learn a lot of names. You’ll forget half of them in a few months. There are, however, many figures on campus worth remembering. These veritable campus celebrity’s names flow through conversations as casually as Obama or Michael Bay. With no shortage of colorful characters on campus, the University pantheon is rife with huge personalities, monolithic administrators, and people you should probably just get to know.
The legend himself, President Michael Roth is not only the University’s administrative head, but the veritable face of Wesleyan, the physical manifestation of its essence. As so, Roth often makes appearances all over campus at a variety of events – you’ll probably observe him strolling about College Row, attending a football game, throwing down some jams at a WestCo open mic, or, hopefully, breaking it down at an alumni benefit (seriously, look it up, the man has moves). When not touring the country in pursuit of alumni donations or writing for The Huffington Post, Roth can be found teaching a class (Modernism and Postmodernism), or sequestered in his South College office where you can meet the legend personally during his rather sporadic open hours during the fall.
Dean Marina Melendez
Aside from your advisor, no other faculty member will play as crucial a part in your four years at Wesleyan as 2014 Class Dean Marina Melendez. Essentially, Dean Melendez acts as the academic advisor and administrative head of the entire freshman class, guiding and monitoring students as they progress towards graduation. Herself an alumnus, both as an undergrad and graduate student, Melendez possesses a deep understanding of life on campus. She just finished her role as the Dean of the Class of 2010. From her office in North College, Dean Melendez is the central administrative reference for the Class of 2014. Drop in during her office hours or make an appointment to get to know your on-campus guide, supervisor, and hopefully friend for the next four years.
Kennedy Odede ’12
Featured in a three-part Argus profile in 2008, Kennedy Odede ’12 arrived at the University from the Kenyan slum of Kibera – the second largest in the world, a place ravaged by extreme poverty and rampant violence. Even though Odede excelled in school, he was forced to remain in Kibera to support his seven younger siblings by carrying stones to a factory for barely a dollar a day. At this time, Odede founded a community group, through which he would become informally known as the “mayor” of Kibera and come into con- tact with many people that would help pave his path to Wesleyan. Now a junior and an evocative, power- ful campus presence, Odede has continued working to improve the conditions of his home by founding the Wesleyan Friends of Africa and working with Wes students and alumni.
Micah Feiring ’11 & Ben Firke ’12
After a particularly lively campaigning season last spring, emotions still run high and these names still linger on upperclassmen’s lips, or at least on the ACB. Partisan poli- tics aside, Micah Feiring ’11 and Ben Firke ’12 are this year’s Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) president and vice president. After a series of all-campus e-mails, copious swag, and a personal appearance by Feiring on Foss Hill on 4/20, the two won in a landslide. Hopefully, putting the 2010 election behind them, Feiring and Firke will try to make good on their campaign promises of committing themselves to financial aid, combating the open container policy, and finally opening the Allbritton student café.
Wendy / Usdan Staff
During orientation, the initial Usdan experience is sleek, shiny, and carries some collegiate glamour: the food’s good, the tables are clean, and the staff is friendly. Although, as the year carries on, your relationship with quesadilla night might lose its spark, the dining crew remains welcoming. No one better exemplifies this than Wendy, the Mother Teresa of Usdan. Perennially amiable and hilarious, Wendy can end up being your best friend for the day, a beacon of light on a particularly dismal winter afternoon, or just a quick flash of warmth as you peel through the noon lunch rush. Along with her equally friendly co-workers, Suzanne (the sociable stir-fry woman), Mert Champagne (the pizza master), and Freddy (the late-night guy), these dining icons’ geniality can easily make up for the day’s rather flavorless pastability offering.
Martin Benjamin ’57
It takes a lot to be considered a lunatic at Wesleyan. Whether Martin Benjamin ’57 is the University’s closest thing or the only person sane enough to ask Michael Roth to “circumcise the foreskin of your heart” is the question at hand. Part deranged prophet, part Ann Coulter, part nostalgia incarnate, Benjamin loves the days of “Old Wes,” but hates most everything else, i.e. diversity, Obama, freedom, and babies. Benjamin’s wildly inflammatory, albeit eloquent Wespeaks are published in The Argus every few months and offend, well, everyone who has a soul while still remaining hilarious and weirdly refreshing. Shrouded in mystery, Benjamin remains an integral part of modern Wesleyan lore. He’s fascinating, insulting, and, above all else, legendary.
Paul Blasenheim ’12
Loud, provocative, practically omnipresent, if students are riled up about something, Paul Blasenheim ’12 probably is too. Despite his apparent campus ubiquity, Paul concedes he represents merely a fraction of student activism, despite his résumé suggesting otherwise. Blasenheim leads and partici- pates in Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), Awareness Dialogue and Action for Palestine/Israel Today (ADAPT), Socially Responsible Investing Coalition (SRIC), and Resisting Imprisonment for a Safer Existence (RISE). Although he puts together many campus activist events, Blasenheim dismisses the suggestion that he is the face of university activ- ism, noting the “diversity of perspectives on activism” and the “misleading image” he may give off. And you thought you were progressive.