The Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) passed a resolution this Sunday in opposition to the rescheduling of this spring’s WesFest activities. In November, the Office of Admission changed the dates of the event from a Thursday-Friday-Saturday plan to a Wednesday-Thursday-Friday plan.
“Over the last several weeks, we talked with a number of student leaders, admission interns, and senior interviewers and came to the decision for Wed-Thurs-Fri April 17-18-19,” Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Nancy Meislahn wrote in an email to The Argus. “This seems worth trying, a bit of an experiment we can evaluate and look to improve upon in years to come.”
Finance and Facilities Committee Chair Andrew Trexler ’14 said that the WSA was never contacted about the schedule change. Although the Office of Admission contacted student interns, Trexler noted that most of the students with whom he spoke opposed the schedule change.
“None of the people who have a mandate to represent the voice of the students were consulted in that capacity,” Trexler said. “The WSA was never contacted about this.”
Trexler noted that one of the main problems with the schedule change is its timing in conjunction with the new need-aware admissions policy.
“While it might be good for the University to experiment with the schedule of WesFest, this year is the worst possible year that we could choose for that,” Trexler said. “And that is because with the recent change of our admissions policy to no longer fully be need-blind, we really need to be careful in making sure that we isolate that variable in our matriculation data and in our application data. That data needs to be very carefully considered and respected.”
Some students said they believe the shift in schedule was due to University concerns about April 20—a day during which many students partake in marijuana use on Foss Hill and other visible spots around campus—falling during the weekend WesFest would have taken place.
However, according to Senior Associate Dean of Admission Gregory Pyke, the new schedule decreases the University’s competition with admitted students programs at other schools.
“We have also always paid attention to the dates of the April admitted students programs at other colleges, trying as much as possible to avoid direct conflicts which might limit attendance at our program,” Pyke wrote in an email to The Argus. “We hope that the Wednesday-Friday schedule will positively affect attendance and enrollment of admitted students.”
Trexler explained that the shift to a Wednesday-Thursday-Friday plan would make it more difficult for high school students, especially those from lower-income, working families, to attend the event because of school and work commitments.
“My feeling is that it’s much more difficult for high school kids to miss classes in the middle of the week and for parents to get off of work to drive their kids here,” Trexler said. “And this will have a particular impact on those families [that] are lower income, [with] parents that are working two or three jobs and can’t really get their kids here on the weekday schedule in the same way that they would be able to on the weekend schedule.”
The decision was based on student feedback and is geared toward meeting pre-frosh needs, according to Meislahn.
“This year, in part in response to feedback from our 2012 student interns last year, we wanted to look at options that would do two things: no longer host pre-frosh on Friday night (consistent with our overnight hosting during the rest of the school year) and make WesFest an experience for pre-frosh that would be more like the real deal,” Meislahn wrote.
Meislahn wrote that the Wednesday-Thursday-Friday schedule allows pre-frosh to attend classes, which is not an option for Saturday visitors.
“We’ve heard too often [that] being at WesFest isn’t ‘what it is really like,’” Meislahn wrote. “By moving to a Wed-Fri format we hope to accomplish that, especially by being able to offer more opportunities to go to classes and other academic programs.”
Trexler noted that the lectures and events that have been scheduled for Saturdays during WesFest in the past are somewhat more appropriate for pre-frosh to attend than classes.
“I actually think that it’s better for pre-frosh to be attending lectures or panels than it is for them to go to a class that is in the middle of the semester and is talking about a really specific topic, [meaning] that the pre-frosh has a limited understanding of what’s going on,” Trexler said. “Whereas a panel or discussion that is directed at a broader audience would have much more value.”
Trexler also expressed concern for student obligations impeding hosting abilities during the weekdays.
“It’s much more difficult for student groups to put on events in the middle of the week,” he said. “Students are engaged in academic pursuits. They’re doing homework; they’re studying for tests. So it’s more difficult for students to host pre-frosh, to really spend time with their pre-frosh and give them a Wesleyan experience.”
The WSA resolution will be sent to the Office of Admission. Although Trexler expressed a willingness to work with the Office, he suggested that there are alternative ways for students to communicate their opposition to the schedule change.
“If Admissions proves unwilling to talk to us (not just unwilling to agree with us), there are other things we can do and other people we can talk to,” Trexler said. “But [the process] has not been particularly positive thus far.”