To: The Wesleyan Student Assembly, the Wesleyan student body and the campus community at large

As former editors of The Argus, we want to express our deep disappointment and concern over the recent passage of a resolution that would cut the paper’s funding by more than half. These cuts threaten the survival of an institution that was instrumental in shaping our collective college experience and that has, somewhat miraculously, been covering campus news without interruption since 1868. We are also disturbed by the events that led up to the proposed budget cuts and the threat they pose to free speech and freedom of the press at Wesleyan.

We are teachers, lawyers, doctors, scientists, government workers, corporate executives and investment bankers, among other professions. Many of us are also journalists at outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, NBC News, CNBC, MSNBC, National Public Radio, The Associated Press, Vanity Fair, the Forward and The Minneapolis Star Tribune. The Argus played a crucial role in our development as writers, leaders, critical thinkers, skeptics and justice seekers. We believe in nuanced argument and the illumination of the truth even if it means overturning preconceived notions about an issue or an idea. We also believe in the value of exposing ourselves—and our readers—to perspectives different from our own in order to learn and grow.

Given this, we find it outrageous that an op-ed published by The Argus, with which some members of the university community disagreed, appears to have led to the current movement to partially strip the paper of its funding. The incident represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of the press and its opinion pages. An op-ed is by definition the opinion of its writer and doesn’t represent the views of the paper or its editorial board. Indeed, The Argus has long printed virtually all of the opinion pieces submitted to it, a fact that undermines accusations that it is somehow excluding, or favoring, certain voices.

From an editorial standpoint, any student can freely join The Argus’s staff and participate in shaping its coverage. Some have pointed out that the time commitment required to work at the paper makes it difficult for students who need to earn an income to work there. Yet many of us were work-study students and still found time to write for The Argus. Moreover, slashing the paper’s budget makes it less likely that it will be able to pay its staff members.

More fundamentally, a newspaper has no obligation to reflect the values or opinions of any particular reader or stakeholder. The Argus’s job is to accurately report events and issues on campus. It can and should, however, publish opinion pieces that reflect the various perspectives of individuals and groups on campus. If students or other members of the Wesleyan community disagree with those opinions, the appropriate response is to submit an op-ed, not to cut The Argus’s funding.

The way the Wesleyan Student Assembly has handled this issue is dismayingly similar to the way authoritarian regimes have silenced an independent press. It is not the way student leaders of a university that treasures the freedom of ideas should be expected to act. The national news media’s negative coverage of this issue has made Wesleyan a poster child for the enforcement of hyper-political correctness at the expense of free speech on college campuses. It reflects poorly on you, on the university and on the greater Wesleyan community.

We urge the WSA to reconsider its current plan to reduce The Argus’s funding. To cut the paper’s budget in the proposed arbitrary manner would send the wrong message to the outside world about Wesleyan’s values and the open environment it seeks to promote. Although we spend only four short years at Wesleyan, the decisions we make have a lasting effect. For the WSA to use its power to stifle a 147-year-old institution like The Argus would be shameful. Please do not let this decision define your legacy at Wesleyan.


Miriam Gottfried ’05, EIC Fall ’03

Xiomara Lorenzo ’05, EIC Fall ’03

Michael Sanfilippo ’05, EIC Spring ’04

Elizabeth Chuck ’05, EIC Spring ’04

Brett Beach-Kimball ’05, EIC Fall ’04

Katey Rich ’06, EIC Spring ’05


Jae Aron ’11, EIC Spring ’10

Lydia Tomkiw ’11, EIC Spring ’10

Mollie Laffin-Rose ’08, EIC Fall ’07 and Spring ’08

Matthew DiBlasi ’07, EIC Spring ’06

Josh Brandstadter ’06, EIC Fall ’05

Alden Ferro ’04, EIC Spring ’03

Steve Chasey ’03, EIC Fall ’02

Robert Zeliger ’03, EIC Spring ’02

Amy Tannenbaum ’03, EIC Fall ’01

Larrison Campbell ’02, EIC Spring ’01

Diana (Silbergeld) Pasquali ’02, EIC Spring ’01

Becky Trout Bach ’00, EIC Fall ’99

Jeremy Duda ’00, EIC Fall ’98

Scott Mayerowitz ’00, EIC Spring ’98

Dan Shotz ’99, EIC Spring ’97

Andrew Schell ’96, EIC Spring ’95

Laura Dine Million ’96, EIC Fall ’94

Eric Meyerson ’95, EIC Fall ’93

Jason Rekate ’93, EIC Spring ’92

Adam Berinsky ’92, EIC Spring ’91

Michael Santoli ’92, EIC Spring ’91

Diana Strauss Casey ’91, EIC Spring ’90

Ian Gerrard ’91, EIC Fall ’89

Kirsten Delegard ’90, EIC Spring ’89

Andrew Siff ’90, EIC Spring ’89

Joel F. Brown ’89, EIC ’88

James Eli Shiffer ’89, EIC Fall ’88

David Williams ’89, EIC Fall ’87

Paul P. Rooney ’89, EIC Fall ’87

Dylan McClain ’88, EIC Fall ’86

Gordon Coburn ’86, EIC Fall ’85

Clare Bates Congdon ’84, EIC Spring ’84

Tom Frank ’84, EIC Spring ’83

Jonathan Yeo ’84, EIC Spring ’83

Eric Coburn ’85, EIC Fall ’83

Paul Kusserow ’85, EIC Spring ’82

Harry Browne ’84, EIC Fall ’81 and Fall ’82

Cliff Meyer ’82, EIC Spring ’81

Laura Fraser ’82,  EIC Fall ’81

Mark Sirota ’82, EIC Fall ’81

Susan Bodnar ’82

Chris Jeffers ’81, Asst. Ed ’80

Joanne Smith Rohde ’80, EIC ’78

Nancy Stier ’80, News Editor ’78

Amy Zinsser ’80, P’17, Features Editor, Fall ’76, Spring ’77

JD Solomon ’78, EIC ’77

Jane Eisner ’77, P’ 06 and ‘12, EIC Spring ’76 and Fall ‘76

Clifford Chanin ’75, EIC Fall ’74 and Spring ’75

Charley Blaine ’74, EIC ’73

Steven Greenhouse ’73, EIC ’72

Andrew Feinstein ’72, EIC ’71

David S. Barrett ’71, EIC Fall ’69

  • Concerned Alum

    Well said

  • current student

    you are “teachers, lawyers, doctors, scientists, government workers, corporate executives and investment bankers, among other professions” and yet still don’t get the larger issue of providing a platform for violent voices to be publicized. it’s a shame that you are at the forefront of educating the world and governing how it works. in the same way that it is reckless and violent for media outlets to air Donald Trump’s vitriol, it was reckless, privileged, and racist for the argus–which is a primarily white organization–to publish a piece likening the Black Lives Matter movement to thugs.

    instead of writing pieces about issues you have no idea about, how about you go do your job as “teachers, lawyers, doctors, scientists, government workers, corporate executives and investment bankers, among other professions”?

    • current student

      Get over yourself, seriously. People like you make me sick to my stomach. If an op-ed in a news article got you this upset, how do you expect to survive outside the liberal bubble that is Wesleyan? God I can’t wait to get away from this place and irrational people such as yourself.

      • op

        I’m going to survive exactly how I do here: allowing my emotions to be valid and calling out racist bullshit when I see it. It’s crazy that you think I won’t call out racism and injustice in the real world; and also, that you seem to be normalizing racism and injustice as something inherent to the “real” world which is to say the “white” world. Just admit it, you’re some white kid who’s been sheltered all your life who feels uncomfortable now that you’re being called out on your prejudiced beliefs.

      • Alex

        “that you seem to be normalizing racism and injustice as something inherent to the “real” world ” – Actually, I’m pretty sure that the poster meant that you getting that worked up over a (very reasonable) opinion you disagree with does not bode well for your ability to deal with the realities of, for example, holding down a job.

      • current student

        OP of the comment here. Alex you couldn’t have said it better.

      • West Eric

        Nobody disputes your or anyone’s right to “call out racist bullshit.” People could have done that — writing response pieces in the Argus and elsewhere, engaging in honest conversation, etc. — instead of punishing the source via defunding.

      • Ralphiec88

        Another student who sees contradictory facts as invalidation of his emotions. That’s not far removed from the toddler who says “you hurt my feelings” when he doesn’t get his way. Throw in some patronizing racial insult like “sheltered white kid” and you assure that you never have to question any of your cherished beliefs. You may find that’s a terrible disadvantage once you graduate, but the solution is simple. Just blame the inevitable problems on racism!

      • CoryIntheHouse

        No one cares what you think about anything.

      • barnburner

        Your emotions are NOT ALWAYS VALID! Get over yourself. Sometimes, often times, emotions overcome reason and lead to terrible results. Ever hear of a crime of passion? I’d say to embrace logic, truth and reasoning, but those are “white” concepts so won’t. You will continue to believe emotions dictate truth, which makes you lost to society. Oh, and you are clearly a bigot. This is not a “white” world. Anyone who sees color first and judges thereon is a bigot. Put down critical race theory and neo-Marxism.

      • obamaiscarter

        Talk about defining racism down. If you think that op-ed was racist and unjust it is safe to say you haven’t suffered actual racism or injustice. On the contrary, it would appear you have led a sheltered existence. Disagreeing with views you hold dear does not constitute “racism” and “injustice”.

    • Ralphiec88

      There’s simply nothing violent in Brian’s article. You oppose it because you don’t like it.
      You might also consider the possibility that these successful graduates know a few things that you don’t.

  • Current student

    This article negates the fact that the issue does not just lie in the extremely racist article (which had no factual evidence and was on many points wrong) but also lies in the overarching whiteness of the paper. Not only in its staff, editors, and contributors, but also its content. The writer of this piece wrote another article last spring which was also very racist but that article didn’t get published. Why, in the wake of the collective mourning of the SOC student body at the state of this country, does the Argus find it appropriate the publish this? The reaction to the article was founded in painful sentiments and for some reason, you can only talk about budget cuts and how that’s going to top you from being a writer while the idea behind why the article was written in the firsts place is what’s killing POC in this country.

    • Bryan Stascavage

      “The writer of this piece wrote another article last spring which was also very racist but that article didn’t get published.”

      There was no article pulled, stop lying about me. This is bordering on harassment.

      I’m getting sick and tired of this.

      I’m getting sick and tired of every criticism, every slight, every obstacle being considering overt and systemic racism. Life sucks for everyone, get used to it. Have some damn personal accountability.

      I’m getting sick of those students at this school who have immense privilege just by being at this school claiming that they are oppressed and marginalized. Just down the road in Middletown is the North End where real problems exist. How many of you activists have spent time down there? At the soup kitchen on Main Street? Have done anything other than cry and yell that you aren’t getting enough attention and resources on campus?

      I’m getting sick and tired of a small section of students who claim they have no power actually have all the power on campus. Who else can extort a response from Roth within 48 hours?

      I’m sick and tired of a small section of radical students dominating discussion in open circles, and using their power to intimidate and harass anyone and everything that doesn’t comply to your narrow world view. Do you know how many students have emailed me thanking me for speaking out because they feel scared to talk openly due to activists like you? You are a crybully, you scream that you are a victim, then scream at others for not treating you like a victim.

      I’m sick and tired of the anonymity and closed circles that the activists hide behind a majority of the time. It is cowardly, weak, and pathetic.

      I am emphatically, with all my soul, and with all my being, telling you that you are wrong. That your views on the world are just opinions – incorrect ones – and while you have the right to express them, it is my right to disagree.

      In my opinion you are what is wrong with Wesleyan. You are who is making this school look like a bunch of morons to the outside world, who is destroying our reputation with your asinine accusations and tactics. The administration and faculty are facilitating this. It is high time we start holding these activists, these professors, and these administrators accountable.

      It is time for the madness and insanity at this school to end.

      • current student

        Bryan, you literally are the definition of a white devil.

      • Ralphiec88

        So much for your credibility.

      • Get over yourself

        What do we call Donald Trump if Bryan is the definition of a white devil? “Hitler among satans”?

      • Jackson Ulrich

        What happened to the editors of the Argus removing personal attacks of students?

      • Bryan Stascavage

        I told the Argus they can leave it up as evidence of the type of activist that Wesleyan welcomes.

      • OP

        How about you stop lying? Racism has nothing to do with you, other than the fact that you’re a racist.

    • Dylan McClain

      It seems that you and some other current students simply do not understand. You are so lost in your own myopia and self-importance, you cannot see the value in expressing anything but your own point of view. It is an extremely dangerous type of narcissism and it can lead to censorship and repression or worse. I’d like to tell you, and anyone else who reads this, the story about how I got into journalism because it involved exactly the opposite reaction to what is now being promulgated on campus.

      In the fall of 1984, I had just arrived on campus and I volunteered to work at the Argus. After a couple of weeks, the editors asked if I would cover the WSA meetings as they needed someone to do it and not much happened, but “you never know.” I went to my first meeting and it was a discussion of the student budget.

      Among the many requests for funding, Ujamaa had asked for money to invite Louis Farrakhan, the head of the Nation of Islam, to come speak on campus. (Why they asked, I learned later explicitly from the leaders of Ujamaa, but I’ll leave that aside as it is not directly relevant to the story.)

      Needless to say, this was controversial. The WSA voted to approve the fee in the belief that openness and hearing others opinions, no matter what you might think of them beforehand, was better than censorship.

      The campus went into an uproar and it made national news.

      There was a campus-wide referendum on whether to accept the budget (the WSA had wisely decided that a single line-item could not be voted on as that would allow groups to be subject to the tyranny of the majority vote). The budget was rejected.

      So the WSA went back, deliberated again, and passed the exact same budget, with the fee in it for Farrakhan. At that time, the WSA concluded that no one would be silenced. And the members of the WSA basically said to the campus, “If you don’t like it, then have another referendum and vote us all out because we will not be party to silencing a group on campus.”

      It was the right decision.

      Protests followed, but Farrakhan eventually came and spoke in the hockey rink before hundreds and hundreds of people, and the campus survived. And learned something.

      It seems that the campus has regressed since then in its capacity to tolerate ideas and opinions that do not agree with what — a majority? a vocal minority intent on repressing other points of view? No matter, the reaction is simply wrong.

      I might add that if students want to have different types of articles in the pages of the Argus, they should get involved in the writing and editing of it. Unless something has changed, I would assume anyone is welcome to work there.

      And, before someone says that is easy if you have the financial resources, full disclosure: I was never paid for writing or editing the paper, and I was a work-study student — in fact, there were times when I had three jobs at the same time so that I could put myself through Wesleyan.

      Dylan McClain ’88, Co-EIC Fall ’86

    • Alex

      “the extremely racist article (which had no factual evidence and was on many points wrong)” — And that’s the problem with your argument. The article was not racist, much less “extremely racist” (BTW: racist does not mean “criticizes black people”). The article did state some facts, and it is only your opinion that it was “wrong” on some points. If you disagree with the opinion expressed in the article, write a rebuttal.

      • Op

        No one ever said he was wrong for criticizing “black people” (of course which includes all POC as I’m sure you know I you’re insisting to speak about the subject). He was wrong for a attackinf an entire movement without also assessing the systems in which the movement is addressing. He gave no room for other arguments and labeled something as a hate group without citing any legitimate source as to why it would be a hate group. Unlike the Westboro Baptist Church, BLM is not mocking veterans, picketing funerals, or harming anyone in any kind of way (except for what the media focuses on which can be dubunked very easily with research and you have Google so I won’t do the work for you). However this movement gets more negative media.

        Wesleyan has many other student publications including the Ankh which do not have enough funding and could benefit from this “defunding” which was only a budget cut. So these students who miss out on journalistic opportunities as this article claims is just false because there are other places to do it which are underfunded because of “tradition” which has proved to be harmful to an overwhelming amount of students that all of you seem so willing to ignore. Think about that maybe a little.

    • Robert Melchreit ’18

      I honestly can’t tell whether or not this is bait.

    • Bob

      Mr. Stascavage’s op-ed piece was in no way racist. It was mildly critical of certain aspects of the BLM movement’s tactics. A public movement cannot claim immunity from public criticism.

    • Bob

      ‘To determine the true rulers of any society, all you must do is ask yourself this question: “Who is it that I am not permitted to criticise?”‘ (Kevin Alfred Strom (1956 – ), often mis-attributed to Voltaire)

    • jean dumas

      current student you need to grow up, the article was not racist. I am a 46 year old black man and I have lived racism, and that was nothing compared to the racism my parents went through. The article was not racist so stop your power trip, you sound just as extreme as religious fanatics used to sound when I was young.

      • OP

        Just because you’re black doesn’t mean you inherently understand the racism being spoken about here. Not only did you not come up with any valid arguments to my points but you just name called. Way to be above it all.

        PS I’m also black, I’m growing up in Americs and I’ve been beaten by cops and gangs of white men. Please continue to tell me that my feelings about racial injustice are wrong because your parents have exprienced “more” racism.

      • jean dumas

        Oh but it does, just as valid as you. boo woo woo. No one believes you anymore because it become an oppression olympic with the likes of you. We are not stupid, we know when you lie and when you use hyperbole, we all know people that have done it. We have all seen it done.

      • OP

        “Boo woo woo” you’re not 46, you’re 10. As a black man you can perpetrate racism just as much as everyone else just as you are here. You no longer go to school here, you no longer know the atmosphere of the school and what’s going on. You don’t know what the white students are doing and honestly, your words are not that of a grown man and are instad angry words of someone who doesn’t want to admit he’s wrong. So I’m walking to step away from this “argument” (where you’ve only proven yourself to be childish and ignorant) with more dignity than yourself. You’re part of he problem, I hope you have no children and if so I hope they’re smarter than you because you are keeping us down just like everyone else.

      • Ralphiec88

        Glad to see you’re not angry or childish.

    • CoryIntheHouse

      You’re a douchebag.

  • Concerned Alum

    Why was Bryan’s original comment in response to Current Student removed from this site and edited down to only 3 sentences?

    • Bryan Stascavage

      It was my choice to cut it down.

  • Alum

    Thank you for this, Argus alum. While I can see how some current students think they’re doing the righteous thing to challenge the paper, as a tone deaf, white and privileged space, etc., the Argus is not Charlie Hebdo or Fox News. Refusing to see the difference between free speech and hate speech and seeking to shut down a legitimate media organization in the name of ‘justice’ is wrong, and just trades one violation for another.

    • Alex

      Minor note: hate speech is protected/free speech. Otherwise, well-said.

      • Alum

        Well I wasn’t making a legal point, but fair enough! (Although it bears noting that hate speech and fake news orgs. like Fox are illegal in many European countries…)

      • Dylan McClain

        By the way, Charlie Hebdo is nothing like Fox News and is not involved in hate speech either. Only people who live in another country do not understand Charlie Hebdo. It is a satirical paper that is against all authority and, in particular, religion. And not just Islam. It skewers all religions all the time. Unfortunately, Americans have a tendency to judge things based on their standards, which is arrogant and colonialistic. France is a republic and laicité is a governing principle — it is within that ideal that Charlie Hebdo exists. It is a concept that Americans generally do not understand or appreciate. So be careful what references you make, even in an off-hand way.

        Dylan McClain ’88, Co-EIC Fall ’86

      • Alum

        Well, I speak French and have lived and worked in Paris and across Europe, so I know how laicite operates and what Charlie Hebdo is. I just don’t agree, like many other observers, that either laicite or the magazine’s particular brand of satire are evenly applied to all, regardless of race, class, ethnicity, national origin, etc. I also find it a bit rich to criticize Americans for being “arrogant and colonialistic” in defense of the French! (Because — though I would have thought this could go without saying — France is, like the United States, an enormously racist country and (post?) colonial power…)

      • Dylan McClain

        Well, we disagree. While I agree that France has enormous problems with racism, just as the United States, Charlie Hebdo is not the problem, or even part of it. If you read Charlie Hebdo often, and cover to cover, you would see that its satire is applied across a broad spectrum of society. Yes it offends people — pretty much everyone. And, by the way, speaking French and living in Paris and Europe does not necessarily qualify you as an expert, you snob. There are plenty of people who “dip into” countries by living abroad, but never immerse themselves in the culture. I live and work in Paris, in an entirely French newspaper, and know and associate only with the French — I know no Americans here. Among the French that I am friends with are people from North Africa who emigrated here and they find Charlie Hebdo obscene, but funny. Oh, and they grew up in Muslim households. Like I said, Hebdo offends everyone. It is meant to. Obviously you missed the point. You seem to still be arrogant and colonialistic — obviously living in Europe did not change you.

        Dylan McClain ’88, Co-EIC Fall ’86

      • DavidL

        “You seem to still be arrogant and colonialistic — obviously living in Europe did not change you.”

        Sounds like hate speech to me, Dylan. Certainly insulting. Why is it ok when you do it?

      • Dylan McClain

        DavidL, calling someone arrogant and colonialistic in their attitudes is not hate speech. It is amazing to me how little knowledge there seems to be in the Wesleyan community these days. Hate speech is attacking a group of people for who and what they are — not criticizing someone, even personally, for what they say. If you don’t understand the difference, you need to improve your education.

        And the reason I was accusing the unnamed person of being arrogant and colonialistic is because that person is applying American ideas about what is and is not acceptable to another country, in this case France. Just because France is an industrialized country does not mean that the United States and Americans are not condescending and arrogant toward France.

        The unnamed person wrote, “I understand how laicité operates” … what does that even mean? Laicité is a philosophy about the role of the state and the place of religion in that state. France just celebrated the passage of the law of laicité today — 110 years ago. It is not the separation of church of state — it is the idea that the practice of religion cannot impinge on the basic principles of the republic. When you emigrate to France, you have to sit through an entire day in which this philosophy is explained to you in intricate detail — I know, I had to do it. That is why Charlie Hebdo fits within the philosophy of France. People may say that France is intolerant toward religion and that is true in a way — it is anticlerical. It tolerates the practice of religion, but only to a point — the point at which religion interferes with the philosophy of the state. The clearest way is in regard to women’s rights. In some religions, while it may be okay for men and women to be treated differently, the French government says, uh uh. That is why there is a law against wearing the scarf. Muslims interpret that as anti-Muslim, but the reason is that the government is saying that women cannot be treated as second-class citizens.

        You can argue that the French government and French society are too extreme in the measures that they take. Certainly, there seems to be more religious harmony, because there is more religious tolerance, in the United States. But part of the reason for laicité in France is because of its long history of religious wars, which is another reason understanding a country’s history is important before judging it. More importantly, I believe, women’s rights in France are just more important than any religious freedoms. Period. Again, people can argue about whether that makes sense or not, but first you have to understand it before you criticize it.

        I have a friend, a woman who is a nurse, raised Muslim, now a nurse. Her job is to educate immigrants on how to take care of their children. A number of times she has to threaten men with imprisonment who have come in with their wives and infant daughters and told them that they are not allowed to cut the clitoris off their daughter because that was part of the custom where they came from.

        The fact is that many Americans world-view is skewed because you still think, deep down in your hearts, whether you want to admit it or not, that you understand things better and live in a better, more tolerant country. Get out, see the world, really live in other places. And you’ll start to realize how often we have it wrong.

        By the way, between Donald Trump, Ben Carson, et al, and the mass shootings every day (yes, on average more than one a day –meaning more than four people killed in one shooting at a time), the lack of universal healthcare, and on and on, a lot of Europeans think Americans are crazy. Ever consider they might be right?

        Think your world view can handle that?

        Dylan McClain ’88, Co-EIC Fall ’86

      • obamaiscarter

        It’s cute when people pretend the term “hate speech” has a coherent, objective definition, rather than just being a term applied to speech that offends hypersensitive whiners.

      • obamaiscarter

        That “mass shooting every day claim” has been debunked as total garbage. Not surprisingly, you uncritically report it as fact. “…Europeans think Americans are crazy”? So freakin what? It is simply amazing that some people think “the Europeans don’t do it” is an actual argument in and of itself.
        Calling your post nothing but a bunch of pompous, condescending moral preening would be an understatement akin to calling Jupiter “quite big”.

      • DavidL

        What the heck is a “fake” news organization?

        Why do you think that Fox is a hate speech organization? Examples please?

        You are correct that many European countries have passed laws criminalizing speech that those in power decide is hateful or hurtful. Do you really want to give our government his power? Remember, in a democracy power is not always going to be exercised by persons who refrain from finding your speech in violation of these laws. (Example: your assertion below that the United States is racist. It’s not hard to imagine a government that would jail you for that, is it?)

        Just how should we determine what is a “legitimate” news organization? How would you react if the news you watch was taken off the air for that reason?

      • obamaiscarter

        I challenge you to name a single European country that currently bans Fox News.

  • David Block

    To “Current student”: the shame is not on these editors. The shame is on you. You fail to see the consequences of your actions.

    This former student, who will be coming to my 35th reunion this May, is one who is very familiar with protest on campus. I was part of a group that took over the President’s office in an effort to get Wesleyan to divest its endowment from corporations that did business in South Africa. We fought racism when it was institutionalized and legalized, back when Zimbabwe was still named Rhodesia. And we fought it here, at home, when the Bakke case (look it up) threatened to end affirmative action, back in 1978. We are no stranger to whether or not “Black Lives Matter.” They do matter. And so does a free press.

    What you clearly do NOT understand is that the next WSA, if it becomes, somehow comprised of people who disagree with YOU, now have a precedent where they can defund YOUR favorite publication(s) and all you hold dear.

    You see — well you DON’T see, but you COULD see if you weren’t so damn myopic — that:

    When you allow the censorship of ONE publication because of unpopular views, you allow the censorship of ANY and ALL publications, when people you DON’T agree with have control of the purse strings.

    Today, the WSA decides to defund the Argus because it doesn’t like what it prints. Next year, if right-wing students organize and gain a majority of the WSA, then you set a precedent to allow them to defund ANYTHING and EVERYTHING important to YOU.

    And you, dear current student, will be helpless to argue that, “No, you can’t defund what is important to me,” because you created and gave them the blueprint on how to do it.

    So get off of your self-righteous behind, and recognize the importance of being able to disagree with something without defunding it. The time honored tradition, when someone disagrees with an editorial, is to WRITE A REBUTTAL.

    David I. Block ’81
    P.S. I attempted to post this as a reply to a comment, but I believe it stands as its own comment.

    • fact check please

      So how about the fact that the Argus wasn’t defunded? Like literally it was not defunded. Go read the resolution. Not a word about funding. Not a word. No censorship happened. None.

      • Ralphiec88

        Please. The net effect of the resolution is that Argus’ funding will be reapportioned elsewhere. There’s simply no denying that.

      • fact check please

        The resolution that passed literally has nothing to do with funding the Argus. That has yet to be voted on. It was deliberately left out of the resolution that passed. And now, if the referendum to raise the Student Activities Fund passes, then no one has to suffer. Gee, wouldn’t it have been great if instead of lying through their teeth, the Argus staff had suggested that instead of running off crying to mass media? Because guess who sponsored the referendum! Hint: it wasn’t the Argus. It was the people who sponsored the original resolution that did call for reapportioning of funds.

  • fact check please

    Soooo….. where’s the resolution that defunds the argus by more than half? Like literally where is it? As far as I can see on the WSA website there is NO resolution that does that. The only thing that mentions the argus is that it’ll cut down on the number of copies printed. There’s always extra anyway. So wtf are you are guys going on and on and on about? Yeah there’s negative press, because none of you so-called professionals and journalists bothered to fact check before going to the press and LYING THROUGH YOUR TEETH about a defunding that never happened. And oh yeah, that same resolution that you claim to have defunded the argus also created 20 stipend positions for student publications. IT’S NOT ABOUT FREE SPEECH AND IT WAS NEVER ABOUT FREE SPEECH IT WAS ABOUT ACCOUNTABILITY AND HOW THIS 147 YEAR OLD INSTITUTION IS PROBLEMATIC AND YALL REFUSE TO EVEN CONSIDER THAT MAYBE JUST MAYBE YOU’RE NOT DOING ENOUGH (OR ANYTHING AT ALL???) TO MAKE SURE ALL STUDENT VOICES ARE REPRESENTED.

    Oh and also your 147 year old venerated institution can fact check. Instead of being sheeple let’s be intelligent and dig deeper beyond a biased opinion piece that claims facts that are literally untrue. Literally untrue.

    • Alum ’14

      As if the Stascavage article was the first crap op-ed that came out of the Argus. Give me a break. Certain activists at Wesleyan today seem totally fine dropping their fact checking crusade when misrepresentations serve left causes.

      • fact check please

        What, so we’re not allowed to criticize an article that was the tipping point of SOC’s frustrations just because we haven’t criticized the Argus as loudly in the past? Stop trying to redirect. First it’s about the right to free speech and now it’s about how we haven’t complained enough? There is no fact checking crusade because everyone seems fine taking people at their word. I wasn’t even commenting about Stascavage’s articles. This about the intentional dishonesty of the Argus staff and now Argus alums and even more broadly national news outlets who don’t bother to look for the truth. Talk about sensationalism.

    • Concerned Alum

      Fact check please. All I could find was this statement in the Argus reporting on the WSA session:
      “The resolution suggests reducing The Argus’s annual budget by 57 percent, from $30,000 to $13,000, for the 2016-2017 academic year.” and then this from Resolution 3.37 “Affirms the stipend, academic credit, and digitalization components of the “Stipend, Academic Credit, and Digitalization Proposal” Version 4.” I couldn’t find Version 4 that it referred to. Based on what I can gather, the intent was to pay for the 0-20 paid positions by reducing the funding to the Argus. What am I missing?

      • johnwesley

        The current Argus’ coverage of its own putative defunding was hampered by its voluntary decision to not cover it (I’m not kidding. They literally thought they could not be objective), but buried among the comments on the article you refer to are repeated replies from one WSA in particular, that based on their proposal, the Argus would likely win any beauty contest between it other campus publications. I understand the “grown-ups” concerns, but I also think there’s a long Wesleyan tradition of allowing students to figure these things out on their own that’s being ignored here.

        The WSA was handed a political problem for which, unsurprisingly, they fashioned a political solution. IMO, if it works as its proponents predict, it will leave The Argus in an even stronger position. Treating it as a sacred cow only plays into its critics hands.

      • fact check please

        The resolution passed by the WSA affirms the non-budgetary components of the proposal. They gave themselves a deadline of Fall 2016 to decide whether or not reapportioning Argus funds was the best way to fund the proposal, and explicitly said they would consider alternate sources of funding. Which the sponsors of the original proposal did do, by sponsoring new legislation to increase the Student Activities Fund. Which, if the Argus really cared about the issues that were raised instead of their free speech diversion, they could have thought of too.

        The original proposal can be found on the Kai Wes website. Make sure you have the dashes in your link.

      • fact check please

        Affirming meaning they support it, not that they’re going to implement the proposal.

    • Ralphiec88

      Why all the anger? You pretend there’s no defunding intended while as much as admitting that the proposed changes redistribute funds from Argus to publications that you consider more worthy. You sound like Alex Garcia in a fit of ‘roid rage.

      • fact check please

        I’m angry because the Argus is continuing to lie, and lie, and lie. The so-called defunding would definitely leave the Argus on top of the proposed system in the original resolution, which is funding based on readership. Surprise surprise, the Argus is the most read publication on campus (probably.) The WSA resolved to look for alternative sources of funding to achieve the goals laid out in the proposed resolution. And guess what, the people who sponsored the original resolution did just that by sponsoring a referendum to raise the Student Activities Fund. And the Argus staff are still crying in a corner about how unfair it is that they’re being defunded. Which, oh yeah, they weren’t defunded.

      • Ralphiec88

        Get real. The WSA voted unanimously in support of a proposal of spending increases and redistribution for which the only identified source of funding is the Argus budget. This came directly on the heels of a call to defund Argus over an op-ed and the resulting backlash You split hairs by suggesting that it’s not “defunding” because Argus would only lose some of its funding, and it’s absurd to imply that it’s ok because WSA may not follow through on something it expressed unanimous support for. Most obviously, your posts express venomous hatred for Argus and its staff along with strident support for the resolution. It should not be a surprise that people aren’t buying what you’re selling.

      • fact check please

        It expressed unanimous support for the nun-budgetary elements of the proposal. They explicitly stated that they would study and debate for a year over whether reapportioning Argus funds would be helpful. It’s not defunding because it hasn’t happened. It’s not splitting hairs. And, again, the people who proposed the defunding also proposed raising the SAF which would be more than enough to fund the proposed spending increases. The student body passed the referendum by the way. I’m actually generally a fan of the Argus and what it does for the community as someone who participated in student journalism in HS all four years. I’m very upset that they are continuing to spread misinformation and redirect with their free speech argument instead of working together with the WSA to compromise and solve the issues at hand.

      • Ralphiec88

        I’m going by what the resolution says, and what those words obviously mean. Continuing to rage about a single word will not change that.

      • fact check please

        The resolution said they would take a year to consider what the effects would be of reapportioning funds. I’m not upset about the use of the word defunding, I’ve used it myself. I’m upset that the Argus is being dishonest and not actively seeking out solutions and is instead riling up the public by purposefully misrepresenting what is happening.

  • GD Klein

    Excellent statement for a university campus that needs to be reminded what free speech is all about.

    George Devries Klein, ’54

  • Steve Chasey

    As a signatory to the above statement, I am pleased to see that our words have themselves sparked further debate as to the WSA’s decision and in relation to our statement itself. Reasonable people can disagree, and in my view, and the spirit of the Argus and Wesleyan more broadly is to provide a space for the resulting dialogue.