To the admitted students:
You have an enormous choice in front of you: where will I go to college? Choosing can be hard. You may be unsure. How do you decide? Is Wesleyan right for me? Am I right for Wesleyan?
Here are our thoughts (with the caveat that school is not your only option):
Most colleges will spend a lot of time telling you what is so wonderful and unique and incredible about them — that’s what this literal “Wesleyan Festival” is designed for: to convince you all that this is the perfect place for you to spend your college years.
But here’s the thing: this is far from a perfect place.
This is a place where your legitimacy as a student might be questioned daily based on your race.
This is a place where, depending on how much money your family has, you might not even be offered admission at all. Take a good hard look around you while you’re here, and think about the fully qualified students who aren’t here.
This is a place where sexual assault happens, frequently, and is then dismissed.
This is a place where cultural norms permit violence against and violations of the space and well-being of women, trans* students, students of color, queer students, and many others marginalized groups.
This is a place where the administration targets trans* student activists for punishment.
This is a place that provides a lush material environment for its students with dividends from investments in coal and oil, weapons, agribusiness, and predatory banks.
This is a place that stands by and feigns helplessness as its subcontracted custodial firm is overworked and that intimidates the people (many of them poor people of color, women, immigrants) who maintain the campus.
This is a place that institutionalizes class divisions between students and between the university and the surrounding community.
This is a place where systemic oppression and unrelenting demands on students contribute to widespread anxiety and depression that goes unrecognized and unaddressed.
This is a place where students with disabilities are regularly locked out of the only accessible entrance to the library or questioned by faculty when they attempt to access classroom accommodations.
This is a place where institutional priorities ignore the inaccessible nature of our campus.
This is a place where students with mental health conditions and chronic illnesses contend with bureaucratic indifference and social stigma while on campus or on medical leave.
This is a place where breaking windows, smashing bottles on the sidewalk, trashing dorms, and abandoning food spills is done with little thought for who has to clean up those messes.
This is a place where the onus of fixing oppressive policies and structures often falls squarely on the shoulders of those who are oppressed.
This is a place where people ask each other the same few questions over and over again and give stock happy answers to prevent further and deeper conversation.
Fortunately (and this is Wesleyan’s saving grace), this is a place where some people care that these things are happening. This is a place where many students can and do take action to stop these things from happening. This is a place where students are willing to take the administration, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and our fellow students to task for transgressions against the community and to challenge anyone who says Wes can’t be better than it is. We can only do so much, but the passion and dedication and care we have seen our fellow students devote to improving this community and fixing inexcusable inequalities is continuously inspiring.
Wesleyan is an Activist University. Wesleyan is Diversity University. Wesleyan is Weird… At least that is what they tell us.
If you look closely these vital qualities have been on the wane in the past decade. But we haven’t lost them yet. There are always eruptions of regeneration and rebirth, sparks and flares of resistance and of coming to consciousness. We, activists at Wesleyan, fight constantly, seriously, joyously, to keep creative dissent and revolution alive.
You, who have been admitted to the class of 2018, will play an enormous role in deciding whether these aspects of Wesleyan grow and flourish, or atrophy and die.
If you choose to join this community, you will have the opportunity to learn about its serious and significant flaws, and you will have the opportunity to do something about them.
If the problems listed above anger, intrigue, or motivate you, please come here. If you want to contribute positively to this community through your presence, please come here. If you want to take a fierce and focused role in making desperately needed change happen at Wesleyan, please come here. If you couldn’t care less, consider picking another school. Now, more than ever, we need committed activists at our school. Now, more than ever, we need students who will care deeply about making this community the best it can possibly be, and perhaps changing it to be something else entirely. There’s a constant turnover of students on any campus, which presents a threat to the continuity and vitality of the movements for reform and revolution that go on here: the most knowledgeable and experienced rabble-rousers, strategists, and philosophers of liberation are always graduating and going off to change the world. But if we keep attracting new ones, we might really get something done.
We have all learned and grown at Wesleyan through being involved with activism. We have met amazing people who do so much to demand better from Wesleyan. Some are graduating and joining the proud ranks of Wesleyan alums. Others, thank goodness, will remain here for at least a little while longer, continuing to fight the good fight.
We hope you will be among them.
Catherine MacLean ‘14
Anya Morgan ‘14
Nina Gurak ‘16
Olivia Chavez ‘15
Christian Hosam ‘15
Joshua Krugman ‘14
Ben Guilmette ‘15
Alton Wang ‘16
Chris Caines ‘16
Olivia Alperstein ‘14
Taylor Dauphin ‘15