Activist, club manager, gentleman, scholar—Evan Weber is a man of many talents. A native Hawaiian, Weber used to be the chair of Wesleyan’s Green Fund and the chair of the Finances and Facilities Committee on the WSA. But now, he’s been taking some time off—as he puts it, “I’ve just been doing me.” Weber with his obsidian eyes sat down with The Argus to discuss the challenges facing the environmental movement, “Club 231,” and deer heads.
The Argus: Why are you a Wesceleb?
Evan Weber: ’Cause you told me I was?
A: You’ve never had dreams of grandeur?
EW: I just try to do me mostly. You know, I get around. Last year, everyone on campus probably got somewhere between 25 and 700 emails with my name attached to it. So people know who I am.
A: Your house [Pine 231] hosts a lot of cool parties.
EW: Yeah, I’m a club manager, as of recent.
A: Do you have your [liquor] license? Is that all set?
EW: We’re still working it out. Our first step is to get approved on Google Maps, and that’s been a bit of a struggle. But we have been getting a few five star ratings on Facebook, so we’re moving up.
A: What do you do on campus?
EW: Wow. I do lots of things on campus. What I do off-campus might be more interesting. I was pretty involved in a lot of extra-curriculars last year. Among them, I was the chair of the Finance and Facilities Committee of the WSA, and also chair of the Green Fund, and just involved in a lot of environmental and social justice activism and activist groups on campus. But I kind of burned myself out last year, so this year I’ve just been doing me, picking up things from time to time.
A: Like what?
EW: Let’s see…well, I’ve been doing a lot more coursework, so that’s good. I generally go to Wednesday night ciphers with the rap assembly at Wesleyan. I’m also involved in environmental activism, and I’m working on starting up a new climate activism group, ’cause Wesleyan doesn’t have one right now and the one that we did have kind of disintegrated.
A: EON [the Environmental Organizer’s Network] doesn’t serve that function?
EW: Well EON hasn’t really been meeting, and that’s something we’re working on. There’s a meeting some time during reading week to elect new coordinators, ’cause it’s mostly been dormant for a number of reasons. The environmental community has been a bit disjointed because of that.
A: What do you want to do to fix that?
EW: Well the biggest thing is getting EON back up and running and giving people a mechanism through which to organize and collaborate and meet.
A: How has the Green Fund been doing?
EW: To be honest, I haven’t really been keeping track with what they’ve been doing that much this year, just because I have other things that I’m worrying about in my own life. From what I hear, they’ve been doing their most recent round of proposals. I think Green Fund has a lot of potential, but I think that students sometimes don’t know that it exists and that they have it as a resource. Also, I think that it’s been harder than we thought for students to be motivated to generate ideas to improve sustainability within our community.
A: Any idea why that is?
EW: It’s a hard thing to do. One thing is the paradigm of sustainability and what that means. For a lot of people they just think of renewable energy, and for a school that doesn’t have a budding engineering department, people may not be as interested or compelled about that. But it really mostly isn’t about that. It’s about a different way of thinking about one’s ecological impact.
A: You’re also involved with Wes Thinks Big. How did that happen?
EW: I don’t know, I just kind of got an email from Hannah [Vogel ’13] asking if I could help out. [Laughs] And she’s a WesCeleb herself, so I couldn’t deny. Well, she hasn’t been officially sanctioned yet.
A: So you’re officially endorsing her in this interview?
EW: Yes, I’m endorsing her.
A: What do you do for Wes Thinks Big?
EW: To be honest, I just kind of show up to meetings sometimes and offer insight.
A: You are a wise man, after all.
EW: Definitely, a good head to have around the table. I didn’t really do that much this semester; I was pretty busy. But there’s always a bunch of stuff to do, and we’re always looking for people to help out.
A: You said your outside life may be more interesting. Why do you say that?
EW: I don’t know; interesting things have been happening lately outside of Wesleyan. Lots of dead sheep, deer heads.
A: Do you have any theories on the deer heads?
EW: I do not have any theories on the deer heads, although I was disturbed by the amazing number of people that liked the Wesleying post saying that it had been spotted, and I wonder what that says about our community.
A: So you’re from Hawaii. What’s the coolest thing about it?
EW: The coolest thing might be just the general culture and different way of looking at the world that’s very distinct from the rest of the U.S., and a peace of mind and easygoingness that’s hard to come by.
A: What makes the outlook distinctive?
EW: Our outlook mostly has to do with 2,000 miles of Pacific Ocean extending in both directions—that certainly has to do with our isolation from the rest of the U.S. It’s a hard thing to put a finger on.
A: I was really depending on you being a representative of Hawaii; you let me down.
EW: Well, I’m a global citizen and a WesCeleb, first and foremost.
A: What do you want to do after Wesleyan?
EW: I’m thinking about continuing to manage Club 231, but I might have to sign a few contracts, talk to the other managers.
A: Who are the other managers?
EW: They are Jon Lis [’13], Micah Ehiorobo [’13], Ryan Hoffman [’13], and last but not least, Matt Lichtash [’13] aka DJ Darkslope.
If that falls through, I don’t really have a lot of plans right now. Wesleyan has happened pretty fast, and it’s a lot to take in. Right now, the plan is to go home, decompress, and maybe try to figure out what it all means. I didn’t study abroad, so I might like to travel. Other than that, I might do activist work, or if something else comes along I’ll try that too.
A: What do you think about the activism climate at Wesleyan generally?
EW: I think that the very fact that people always ask this question—“Oh, what about activism at Wesleyan?”—obviously means it’s still alive. It takes different forms. As our society’s changed, Wesleyan’s changed. I think it is what we as a community make of it. I think that definitely in the last few years there has been a sense of a more budding activist culture in light of recent global events as well as Wesleyan events. And I think it can be disheartening at times when engaging in activism, given the scope of some of the challenges we’re facing—the general stubbornness, or flat out impossible-to-deal-with nature of some of our opponents. People complain about activism at Wesleyan, but there is activism at Wesleyan, and in a lot of places there’s just apathy.
A: Where do you think the environmental movement is heading now? What are the next steps?
EW: That’s a good question. The environmental movement is at a very interesting turning point—and by point I mean the last several years or so—in which we are facing a series of global ecological crises with planetary and human social justice implications that are well away from the reach of many of us as individuals to make an impact on, and for us—and probably, definitely, us as a collective—to really stop. We’re at the point where we have to kind of deal with that and cope with that—the real pain and human and planetary tragedies that brings—and also find ways to channel that energy to move it forward toward real solutions and real advocacy that don’t make the problems worse. Because the worst thing that the environmental movement could do would be to give up on itself and fold in. What we need to do instead is seek new allies and be more strategic and be more strident and prudent and aggressive in the face of issues and opponents that are becoming equally as such.
A: In that context, do you think the conversation on campus is on point?
EW: No, I don’t think the environmental conversation or, to a certain extent, even the movement is on point. Part of it is we always say education, but really people don’t fully grasp the extent of the crises that we’re facing, and also their own implications in it and what it all means for themselves and the future of society. And in that regard, there’s a lot of “green-washing” that occurs on campus.
There’s this campus sustainability pledge thing that’s going around on Facebook. I admire its intent; I think that it dwarfs the nature of what we’re facing and the real things we need to do. Yes, people shouldn’t be drinking bottled water. Yes, you should do all these little individual actions because they make sense for you, they make sense for the planet, they make sense for frontline communities. But also, that’s not going to solve the problem unless we really fully engage with our real impacts and also the political sphere in advocating for systemic change.
A: What was your favorite aspect of your Wesleyan experience?
EW: Other than this proud moment…
A: And besides being a club manager.
EW: Yes, that comes with its perks. I’m sure people say this all the time, and I’m sure it’s cliche. But I really have grown so much as a person from the other people that I’ve engaged with here at Wesleyan. Be they students, faculty, and staff—those moments where you have truly genuine interactions with people. Whether its creating music together, or engaging in a conversation after a class, or just hanging out with a group of friends that you haven’t seen in a while and meeting new friends through them. I think as much as we can be divided as a community, there really are people here that care a lot about other people, and that makes us all grow and that makes us have a better experience.