Last night, pre-registered students from the Wesleyan University senior class attended their first Senior Class Reception. Barely any hint was given that this event was in fact a fundraiser for the University scheduled to coincide with the “Giving Tuesday” fundraising initiative directed at the alumni.
I attended anyway, but felt incredibly uncomfortable at the event. The fundraising theme was front and center. The speeches of President Roth and the student organizers were painful to watch. It was not school spirit that was being appealed to, but blind patriotism. I could see (and it gave me some solace) that most of the seniors around me were squirming. And I was temporarily relieved to see another fellow senior take the stage not to continue the show, but to call for a boycott of donations until misplaced financial priorities returned to need-blind admission and financial aid policies.
But I have since grown indignant, not because this student was almost physically bullied off stage, not because of the smirks on the student band members’ faces as they tried to cut off this student’s speech with their sub-par music, not because of the University’s questionable and concealed financial priorities, but because the University was asking its own student body for money. All members of Wesleyan University’s senior class have already paid through their families almost a quarter of a million dollars to the institution or otherwise rigorously demonstrated their inability to pay such an exorbitant sum. Many if not most students have further been fined for (often minor) damages to ‘communal areas’ owned by the University in a form of communal or exemplary punishment, even as Wesleyan refuses to prevent or reimburse damages to student property. For example, in my freshman year, the University hardly responded when seven locked bicycles in the designated bike room of my dormitory were vandalized for what easily totaled to over $1,000 in property damage. A report was filed, but the promised Public Safety investigation did not materialize, no security cameras were installed, and no reimbursement was contemplated for the lack of preventative or investigative measures. The University receives a quarter of a million dollars per student, charges students even more for property damage that they aren’t responsible for and that the University could easily cover, and then does nothing when student property is damaged.
Each member of the senior class has already given hir fair share to help maintain the University. “Our goals are to educate seniors about why it is important to support Wesleyan,” say the organizers. Yes, you read that correctly: “educate.” I’m sure that loosening up attendees with free alcohol helped with this ‘education.’ Wesleyan once protected its student body from predatory military recruiting; why can’t it protect its student body from predatory fundraising? The administration and the Wesleyan Student Assembly should ban funding for university fundraising initiatives directed at the student body.
This is why Not.
Calvo Elhauge is a member of the class of 2014.