As scores of prospective students and their parents descended on campus for the Office of Admission’s Open House, members of a newly formed student union gathered in strategic locations with a coordinated plan.

In response to the recent revelations surrounding former Dean Scott Backer’s past of sexual misconduct and subsequent firing, students staged a series of protests on Monday to protest what they see as broader problems within the University’s administration. 

“The University will try to commodify our protest to contribute to their brand of ‘Diversity University,’” Chris Gortmaker ’17 said. “We’re telling the people we’re talking to that [the University] will try this, and that we’re doing this not to contribute to this brand, but to operate in spite of it and against it.”

Interrupting tours

The earliest protests involved disrupting campus tours, with the biggest cohort of protesters waiting in the lobby of the Exley Science Center, where an entire window was saturated with anti-administration flyers. Elsewhere, protesters hung a banner that read, “In the legacy of Columbus, Wesleyan’s administration participates in violence against indigenous people,” created installations informing viewers about indigenous remains in Exley, and taped fake checks made out to University President Michael Roth with his current salary to an ATM machine.

Halliday_Protests (2 of 10)

Posters covered a wall in Exley.

The script from which tour interrupters read included information about the Backer firing, statistics about sexual assault on campus, and accusations of the administration’s trivialization of African American Studies.

Shortly after the first tour of the day passed through, however, student tours began avoiding Exley entirely. According to multiple student tour guides, avoiding protesters in the science center was an order from their supervisors.

“We were told that the center of protesting seemed to be in Exley, and therefore to avoid that stop on the tour altogether and instead discuss the sciences while still in Olin,” said a tour guide who wished to speak under the condition of anonymity. “When I went to lead my tour group out of Olin, the protesters actually stood in front of the door, physically preventing us from leaving so that they could talk to the visitors. At the end of our tour, while we were standing in Usdan finishing up, a few protesters started shouting over mine and another guide’s voice as we attempted to finish up the last few minutes of the tour.”

Director of Admissions Nancy Meislahn denied that any orders were given for tour guides to avoid Exley or any other normal stops, citing what she saw as a successful Open House.

“Here’s what I know: we had an overall successful Open House,” Meislahn wrote in an email to The Argus. “Standing Room Only at the welcome session this morning, good crowds and positive feedback throughout the day.”

Performance art on College Row

Meanwhile, outside North College, also in the path of tours, students stripped down to engage in a performance art protest. Positioned in front of chalking on the ground that read “reject administrative gaslighting,” various nearly nude students took turns lying down with their eyes on an altar surrounded by candles and flowers in vases. Avigayl Sharp ’17 and Amy Mattox ’17 were among the organizers and said the demonstrations would continue until tours ended in the late afternoon. Mattox explained the piece.

“In rendering pain visible we are trespassing something,” she said. “Violence and pain may be materially obvious, but they may also be subterranean, embedded, invisible to the viewer, and of course, they might at any time be both. To make interruptive installation ‘artwork’ or ‘protest’ in the wake of this pain, of this violence, is to render them in some manner. We are not making our bodies a metaphor; our bodies HAVE been sites of violence, our bodies HAVE been pained, have lost.”

Mattox elaborated on one of her anxieties.

“To be honest I worry about the stakes of any aesthetic reading of this stuff,” she said. “I worry about my body being subsumed into a river of symbolic action. But I tweet this at the university. I want to spread it over campus like a sort of sinister honey. I want people to grapple with the dailiness of my pain, which for me is obvious, which for me is material, which for me is renderable.”

Michelle Fisher ’19, one of the students on the altar, shared what the protest meant to her.

“The symbolic meaning of this protest is that the University sacrifices victims of sexual assault in the name of its own image and reputation,” Fisher said. “We wanted to make the symbolic image of our pain visible.”  

A flyer distributed by students positioned around the altar shed more light on the motivations and emotions behind the protest.

Aaron Stagoff-Belfort, News Editor

Students created an altar as an interruptive installation project.

“I got involved because a lot of people that I really love are directly impacted every day by what happens here, and the inaction of the administration,” said Jack Singer ’18, who was one of the demonstrators handing out flyers. “For a lot of people, they have no choice but to act. I wanted to support in any way I can.”

A public safety officer surveyed the scene and spoke into his microphone at one point to report the chalking. It would be removed later in the afternoon but soon replaced with chalk reading, “Stop silencing us.”

Taking over “Roth on Wesleyan” 

The afternoon brought another demonstration. From 1:30 until 2:30 p.m., when Roth was slated to give a talk called “Roth on Wesleyan” to prospective students and their families, protesters filled the area outside Beckham Hall handing out slips of paper with questions they suggest these prospective students ask Roth during the talk’s question and answer section.

“How many perpetrators of sexual assault have you expelled in the last 3 years?” read the first question. Others included, “What would have been a compelling reason to make [former Associate Dean of Students Scott] Backer’s firing public?” and “Why doesn’t Wesleyan have a resource center for students of color?”

After Roth had been introduced, the approximately 45 protesters, most of whom held posters bearing slogans such as, “Roth protects rapists,” “Accountability NOW,” and “Diversity is more than a number,” silently filed into Beckham Hall and lined the perimeter of the room.

Roth continued without comment, but a few minutes later indirectly acknowledged the protesters. In response, one protester, Zeno Scott ’18, bent over and retched.

Roth paused.

“Sorry,” Scott said. “I was throwing up.”

Soon after, approximately nine minutes after he had begun speaking, Roth abruptly ended his speech and, abandoning the question and answer session that was slated to follow, quickly exited Beckham Hall down the center aisle. Yael Horowitz ’17 made her way to the front of the room.

“If you have any questions that Michael Roth won’t answer, we’re willing to answer them,” she said. “I want to talk to you. I’m here, and I’m not going to run away if there are hard questions.”

In the 45 minutes that followed, student protesters entertained questions from prospective students and their families, passing microphones around the room from visitors to demonstrators. One of the first questions came from a parent who wanted to know what, specifically, the protesters were demanding that the administration had not provided.

Halliday_Protests (7 of 10)

Demonstrators lined the perimeter of Beckham Hall to interrupt the talk “Roth on Wesleyan,” aimed at prospective students and their families.

“We’re asking for a Title IX coordinator who is receptive to sexual assault complaints and doesn’t actively discourage students from reporting,” Julia DeVarti ’17 answered. “We’re looking for accountability structures. Right now, there’s no way to give feedback to the administration. The only people giving feedback to the administration is the administration. We are looking for support in academic fields that recognize underrepresented histories, so that’s AFAM [African American Studies], Asian American studies, disability studies, urban studies.”

DeVarti also touched on the importance of hiring an advanced practice registered nurse, or an APRN, to prescribe medication as part of the Counseling and Psychological Services.

In response to a question about student-created support systems, given the lack of a women’s resource center or a multicultural student center, Aviv Rau ’19 spoke to the strength of student support.

“The people in this room, and the people outside of this room, have been way better resources for me than any other kind of official resource provided by the university,” Rau said. “When I’m in rooms like this, I feel like I would absolutely do it all again. Despite the things that have happened to me here, and despite the things that have happened to other people here, I think that the students here are extraordinary.”

A prospective student questioned whether the movement had gone too far, pointing out that the University has the reputation of being diverse and liberal. Scott responded by deconstructing the definitions and connotations of those terms.

“I don’t think that what we’re saying is a common narrative,” Scott said. “I think that we do hear very commonly that Wesleyan is a liberal and diverse university, and one of the things that a majority of us feel is that ‘liberal’ and ‘diverse’ are not positive terms.”

Scott continued that although the University is safer for many students than other universities might be, this relative safety should not deter activism.

“There’s not time to be complacent,” they said.

After the “Roth on Wesleyan” talk ended and prospective students, their families, and protesters filed outside, Sharp and Taina Quiñones ’17 reflected on the power of the interruption.

“Michael Roth left,” Sharp said. “The protest made him really uncomfortable, and he left a roomful of prospective students and their parents sitting there without giving them the time he had promised them, which I think is so indicative of the silencing and the inability to account for the actions we are calling out.”

Quiñones agreed.

“The fact that he couldn’t even bring himself to stay in a room of students just shows that he’s scared, that we have power, and that he doesn’t know what to say when his press people aren’t with him,” she said. “Even in that meeting, he was trying to commodify the protest that we were having in that room….We got him to leave, and we were able to have a direct conversation with prospective students.”

Members of the student union have promised more actions in the future, but plans remain under wraps.

  • Arafat is dumb

    Would like to start a motion to ban “Arafat” from posting.
    Also let’s get this person into more humanities classes…

    • Mr.Agree

      Woah. He has 11,000+ comments. Get a life!

  • parent 2019

    Wesleyan in a nutshell just has to many FREAKS, Admissions needs to cut down on the radical protesting type students, and bring the student body back in line! Most of theses kids are entitled with no real sense of real life. I dare you to protest like that on your job. You will be gone the next day if you pull that shit. There is a right way and wrong way to protest. What our students are doing is absurd.

    Eventually admissions and the school our president will lose their jobs if they don’t get a handle on the type of students they are bringing in. We do need more of a conservative and respectful student here to balance out our radical ones. Admissions went hard core liberal over the last few years with admissions and we are now in a bad place. Wesleyan has so much to offer, but a lot of bright , engaged and thoughtful students won’t give Wesleyan a look because of our reputation and disrespect our students show! I am shocked to say this but The athletes seem to be the most respectful and reasonable kids on campus. They seem more motivated to help people and seem to be the most outgoing and friendly people on campus. Such great kids on Move in day with my family. I was so impressed.

    The school is not balanced and these kids hate the school and administration so much. They have no pride in the school, and you will get 0 dollars back from these kids moving forward. Wesleyan needs to rethink what is best for Wesleyan moving forward because what we have isn’t working. Please bring in more normal type kids who don’t want Wesleyan so weird!!!!

    • Arafat

      Well put. This administration is simply reaping the seeds they sowed. It is they who chose to radicalize Wesleyan and now they are enjoying the fruits of their stupidity and short-sightedness.

    • Anonymous

      I really hope your kid isn’t as poor of a writer….

  • Mary

    Please if you are so unhappy with Wesleyan then leave! You should go if you are unhappy. Go to a place where you will be supported, and be happy. There are so many schools out there. As a parent at Roth talk I was mortified about the disrespect that Wesleyan students displayed. That was not the right time or place. Wesleyan admissions actually has to do a much better job weeding out these types of these kids. You can’t bring in students who think they run the show. Let them try that on their real jobs and watch how long they last. My son is very interested in the sciences and was excited but after that mess their is 0 chance he isn’t going to Wesleyan. I don’t place the president I blame admissions for allowing so many of these types of kids on campus. Not smart on their part because eventually they are the ones that will get you fired. Wesleyan admissions may want to rethink the type of kid they start to bring in moving forward. There are so many really bright, respectful students out there who have there heads on right. We went to Amherst as well and such a different vibe. Students where all so friendly and we didn’t walk away feeling kids hated the school, My recommendation weed out the kids who are not a good fit and focus on the ones who no how to constructively figure things out.

  • Another Prospie Family

    Our family was visiting from out of state. As others have commented, we found the protestors to be aggressive and disrespectful of our time. After viewing the altar and receiving the flyer, we asked our tour guide about the protests and later were able to look up the story online. Beyond this sharing of information, there was no need to interrupt our tour 4 times, including physically blocking our exit from the library. We were looking forward to Dr. Roth’s speech and were disappointed when it was rudely disrupted. Again, silent protest would have better served your purpose. As we left, the protestors threatened to physically block us from leaving the room again. We will not have another chance to visit Wesleyan and were very disappointed that we missed the chance to learn more about it. These are issues that should be discussed within the Wesleyan community without disrupting the ability of future students to choose what information they would like to learn about the school.

    • Current student ’18

      so, for 1: The disruption of Roth’s talk was planned as a silent protest. That changed after he tried to sell the frustrations of the demonstrators.

      2: If protestors hadn’t disrupted your tour, you still would not be choosing what information you learn about Wesleyan. The wes brand is tightly crafted

      3: if you stayed for the impromptu q&a with demonstrators after Roths 10 minute talk, then you likely heard many students saying that problems at Wesleyan are not unique, and therefore the intent was not to discourage people from coming. But rather, to interrupt something that the university seems to care more about than its current students (i.e. Their brand)

      • my daughter now wonders

        We came for the day to learn what the admissions office had to offer. That was our choice, but you didn’t let us hear what we wanted to hear. You could have provided a written document or shared a link with your concerns or something like that so tht we could get to learn what we came for and also learn about what your concerns are, but we had set this time aside and made a lot of effort to get there and back for a specific reason. It was very frustrating. Because the tour ran late due to the many interuptions, it was also really hard for my daughter to get to a class early in order to introduce herself to the Professor as a visitor.

      • Ralphiec88

        Please look up the term ‘disingenuous’. It is not Roth’s fault that you shouted at visitors with a bullhorn. It is not Roth’s fault that you blocked the paths of visitors. The fantasy that your pointless and aggressive protest was something saleable is the height of hubris.

  • Prospective Wesleyan family

    We didn’t take a tour on Monday, so our main encounter with the protesters was at President Roth’s speech. I don’t think the protesters considered how their actions would impact prospective students on a very personal level. On one hand they felt that incoming students had a right to know about the dean’s firing and the administrations’s actions on that topic, but I doubt that many people in the audience had enough information to verify the facts, much less form an opinion and join a protest about it. My child was visiting classes and I was attending talks all day. Once the students took over the President’s speech and had the microphone, they were generally polite and articulate, happy to have an audience, even if the audience was a roomful of visitors who could not possibly have the experience to understand some of the issues. The discussion wandered far beyond the topic of the dean’s dismissal and became a forum for general complaints about the school and the administration. I can’t imagine many prospective students in that room came away with a positive view — unless they were looking to join an activist campus and inspired that there were so many issues at Wesleyan which would require their attention.

    All schools have problems, but there is little time or means for high school seniors to find out more about those that were mentioned only weeks before early applications are due. Many families had travelled a distance and all had chosen to attend Wesleyan’s open house above the many others held on the same day. There was a selfishness displayed by a group of students hijacking the day for their own agenda. One of the protesters explained that they were targeting the admissions event because each student guest represented a dollar value to the school. That was depersonalizing and contradictory, because some of the protesters complained about feeling that they were diversity statistics and not valued or supported as individuals. The students who were angry with the Wesleyan administration “commodified” the visiting students in the same manner that caused their own disappointment and frustration. My son was made to feel that he was worth more as a pawn in a protest than as a person who would contribute to the academic, artistic and social life at the school. Prospective students want to select a university where they feel welcomed and valued, and that was lost.

    • Arafat

      What is it about liberals that make them feel special, better, above it all.

      And what really cracks me up is when one liberal group conflicts with another. When this happens it leaves liberals rationalizing this in the most inane ways imaginable.

      Take for instance when the BLM advocates forced Bernie Sanders from the podium when he was campaigning in Washington state. That was hilarious as well as a real commentary on how self-righteous and close-minded liberals really are. Liberals are exactly what Orwell wrote about so insightfully.

  • my daughter now wonders

    Was the group of students protesting speaking as the majority voice of the student population? My daughter had Wes way at the top of her list and was planning to apply early decision, but now isn’t at all sure. The interuptions by students really didn’t seem to consider the needs or wishes of prospective students and she is now wondering if this is where she belongs or even if she’d fit in.

    • Alum ’13

      This is certainly not the majority voice at Wesleyan. There will always be a loud and vocal minority that wants to take up arms against the administration but I can assure you that the vast majority of students love the school and find it a perfectly safe and comfortable place to get a great education.

      • my daughter now wonders

        Thank you for your input. That is helpful to hear and I think will be reassuring to my daughter.

      • class of 17

        I would actually argue that this is very much the majority voice at Wesleyan. The point of the protest was not to take up arms against the administration, but to emphasize that Wesleyan is really not a “safe and uncomfortable” space to get an education at all, that is if one is not a student of social or economic privilege. Opposition to the administration is a by-product of a reasoned outrage to flagrant administrational abuse – take a moment to consider just how outrageous the backer incident was. This is not reactionary protest. This is a movement born from love and solidarity that has the goal of remaking the honestly very unsafe space into an inclusionary one.

      • Ralphiec88

        When you hijack a day in the visit schedule of dozens of prospective students, you have zero credibility to claim that you acting out of “love” or are making Wesleyan more safe or more inclusive. This is about a group of students indulging the very instincts of clawing for power and dehumanizing people that they claim to oppose.
        “Reasoned outrage” would start with specific charges and corrective actions, of which you apparently have neither. This is likely because the charges don’t amount to much (the administration did a staggeringly poor job of vetting a candidate; also they could have explained to the student body sooner but the value of this is arguable), and the clearest corrective actions (firing Backer, independently reviewing his work) have already been taken.

      • Arafat

        If you say so Karl then it must be true, for whom am I to question your authoritative opinions about everything? I can only hope to have some tiny glimpse into the insights you so graciously share with us. Your innate ability to see things for what they are makes me humbled to even be able to read your words.

        In short, you’re a narrow-minded idiot because you think your insights are something “special” secondary to no one else’s views or opinions. You are, in short, what is known as a fascist in sheep’s clothing. You should be ashamed of your behavior and your support for those who get in the way of others who took time out of their lives to take their sons or daughters to see Wesleyan and not to see a bunch of angry punks instead.

    • c/o 2019

      I hate the way the protest ended up but I will express this: I love Wesleyan for its protest culture. There are administrative problems and injustices at every school, but Wes students are not complacent when they happen. They call it out and make sure it isn’t brushed aside. There is a strong student support system and a demand to always do better. I may not always agree with those tactics, but that sense of justice is the defining trait of Wesleyan. And the actions of those protesters did seem insensitive, but I have largely found Wesleyan’s student body to be very inclusive otherwise. I am sorry to hear about your daughter’s situation now and I hope I could help.

      • Arafat

        “They call it out and make sure it isn’t brushed aside.”

        Seriously? So these “protesters “call it out”? Do I have that right?

        No. These protesters are a bunch of spoiled, angry, selfish punks who think their agenda – and only their agenda – is the real deal.

        What they do not understand is that their agenda is nothing special. The only thing special is that they seem to genuinely believe that they are special and that all others are secondary to them. That is called myopia and narcissism and childish; it is only special in the ways I’ve described.

      • Betterwould

        “…very inclusive..” Unless you are Christian in which case you are mocked and marginalised.

  • Arafat

    Leftist liberal arts colleges crack me up. I wonder what % of Wesleyan students come from privileged backgrounds? Of course they can act like idiots. They’re trust fund babies and there are no consequences to their actions.

    • c/o 2019

      What you said is very classist. And also wrong: Wesleyan is one of the more socioeconomically diverse “elite” universities, and higher income students at Wesleyan are not typically the ones protesting in my experience.

      • Arafat

        Uh huh…just like you say…

        +++

        “Tuition and fees at Wesleyan University are $48,272 without financial aid. With room, board, and other fees combined, total cost of attendance is $64,163.”

  • Arafat

    Roth deserves what he got. Ultimately it is the administration that sets the tone. He reaps what he’s sowed.

    He can, of course, change the tone by kicking these fascist students out and hiring teachers who do not brainwash students with leftist fascistic memes.

  • DavidL

    Wow, how rude. Why would I want to go to a college where people think it’s really cool to interrupt somebody else’s meeting. I happen to believe that Roth made a terrible mistake in how he handled this matter, and that this reveals an underlying weakness in hiring and vetting processes. But that does not excuse being rude and boorish. These “protesters” need to grow up and find a less narcissistic way to make their points.

  • alum

    “and he left a roomful of prospective students and their parents sitting there without giving them the time he had promised them, which I think is so indicative of the silencing and the inability to account for the actions we are calling out.”

    How fucking selfish of you. Young, talented, passionate refresh were here to learn about the school, and now the odds of them matriculating are much lower. Shame on you.

    “the protesters actually stood in front of the door, physically preventing us from leaving so that they could talk to the visitors”

    Think about if someone did this to you to impose a view – how would you feel? Not so good, I imagine. But then again, if you’re doing it for a good cause, it’s okay, then? Right? Right?

    • open house guest

      It did not feel good to have our way blocked as we were on tour, and much of this day that we had planned and looked forward to for a long time turned in to a day where again and again we had no choice but to hear the complaints of protesters. A short talk would have felt respectful to those of us who were there to learn about the school, but the repeated protests made it very hard to learn about the school and to get a feel for the true diversity of opinions that exist among students, as this group of protesters opinions were forced upon us. We understand that there may be some legitimate complaints some students and faculty members may have of the administration. The manner in which they were expressed though left a negative and closed minded impression. We hoped for more.

      • Ralphiec88

        Sounds like you’re too mature to fit in at Wes.

      • openhouseguest

        I’m a prospective student’s parent, but am trying to express the feedback of my whole family.

      • Current student

        A 2 minute tour interruption out of a ~90 minute tour isn’t all that much. Also, with admissions deciding to skip the science center for fear of ruffling feathers, it seems like they were withholding more info than the demonstrators?

      • my daughter now wonders

        Our tour was interupted 3 times and was delayed far more than 2 minutes…more like 15-20.

      • Arafat

        Don’t expect honest reporting from these (Current student) malcontents. They’re not about honesty, in fact, they’re about lies: Particularly about lying to themselves about who they really are and why they are really doing it is what they’re doing. It usually boils down to needing attention, anger with their own DNA or their parents, or whatever.

    • Arafat

      Leftist forcefully imposing their views on others. This is the first step towards a Stalinist-like regime.

      The blindness of these stupid, self-serving idealists is amazing.

      • Mike

        With all due respect, the Left doesn’t align itself with Stalin or authoritarian regimes–slipper slope argument just sounds rash. And people who protest for multicultural centres will have to realise sooner or later that as a school, we don’t have enough money to give out financial aid, let alone build a bloody centre. And they’re (we are) university students: idealists almost by definition.

      • Arafat

        Mike, I’d argue that they do. Their naive and misguided idealism is just the first step. Marxism was a leftist movement as are most collectivist ideologies.

        And this IS the problem with the left. They do not understand – and never will understand – the unintended consequences of their idealistic and stupid ideas in the real world.

        Please understand I am not condemning the left for their lofty ideals, I am condemning for their inability to understand man’s nature. Socialism is a great ideal other than that it will never work in the real world.

        And these leftist protesters are no different than those who cried out to tear down the system that ultimately led to Stalin’s brutal reign.

      • Mike

        Historically speaking, I’m assuming that you refer to the Burkean/Godwinian view of the world that ideals never work, that in order for ideals to work they have to be ideals constructed from simple human relations—constructed, in other words, from the ground up rather than from theory downward. Opposed to that, however, we are in the midst of a utopian-idealist revival movement, which happens (cyclically) in response to the cyclical ultraconservatism that happened to have engulfed America for the last few decades. That said, these two opposing viewpoints led to the same government models as we see today. From both the Right and the Left extremes, we must look at both Stalinism and the Third Estate overtaking of France. Both were extremes of ideals, but the one resulted from the adoption and later abandonment of Marxist ideal and the other from a human-rights perspective that has since become a cornerstone of society, a perspective that the Right wants to keep. In order for the Left to be “problematic,” it has to be as radical as either of these undertakings, and I doubt it is.

        Besides, the rise and fall of the Left and the Right happen very much as a result of and in reaction to each other: to push them out of that paradigm would require something much different from what the Left is doing, on a scale much bigger than a university departure point. I suspect in the next two decades or so we should see another rightist movement similar to the post-hippie eighties—then the “Left” will band together in simplifying the Right to a non-discursive, irrational status-quo maintainer. The Right then would be likened perhaps to another Gilded Age, or pre-socialist/unionist France (so, around the 50s as well?), and its “ideal,” to use the word you’ve applied to “The Left,” attributed to another neo-Thatcherian (as seen in 80s’ English/Scottish universities) fad.

        On the point of your condemnation of their inability to understand man’s nature, you’re also overlooking the myth of the Right in relation to the almost blind nature of the Left. The Right is a status quo that seeks to maintain itself through myth-working, whether that be flagrant propaganda or subtle cultural normativisation, the result of which can be seen most decidedly today in the American figure of the masculine (or at least non-feminine) male. The non-reactionary Left, which I’m able neither to categorise as moderate nor to categorise as left-leaning, reacts to that status quo, in almost as strong a way as how the Right asserts itself. The Left having been painted–through popularisation and then normativisation (in short, the whole process of myth-working)–as non-sequitur, however, I (and I don’t know if you do, too) often overlook the amount of power-relation force that the Right exerts and overestimate the relative amount of power-relation force that the Left is trying to exert. The ideals of the left I do not view therefore as “lofty,” only unorthodox, non-normative, transgressive even; the success of the bourgeois and its overarching ideals (not the least of capitalism—although there are other ideals as well, such as sexuality) are to me the more lofty, the more powerful, only that we’ve grown up to understand they are the norms.

      • Mike

        On the point of your condemnation of their inability to understand man’s nature, you’re also overlooking the myth of the Right in relation to the almost blind nature of the Left. The Right is a status quo that seeks to maintain itself through myth-working, whether that be flagrant propaganda or subtle cultural normativisation, the result of which can be seen most decidedly today among other things in the American figure of the masculine (or at least non-feminine) male. The non-reactionary Left, which I’m able neither to categorise as moderate nor to categorise as left-leaning, reacts to that status quo, in almost as strong a way as how the Right asserts itself. The Left having been painted–through popularisation and then normativisation (in short, the whole process of myth-working)–as non-sequitur, however, I (and I don’t know if you do, too) often overlook the amount of power-relation force that the Right exerts and overestimate the relative amount of power-relation force that the Left is trying to exert. The ideals of the left I do not view therefore as “lofty,” only unorthodox, non-normative, transgressive even; the success of the bourgeois and its overarching ideals (not the least of capitalism—although there are other ideals as well, such as sexuality) are to me the more lofty, the more powerful, only that we’ve grown up to understand they are the norms.

        Besides, socialism is a great ideal that has worked in many places in the limited forms that each place has taken unto itself. I’m from Australia, and without social security, paid maternity/paternity leave, free health care, I don’t think my country would be able to function as it does today. Those are completely socialist forms: the government controls them; there is no free market when it comes to Australian health insurance; and I believe that to be as great a construct as anything capitalism will be able to endow my country with. I haven’t seen a single medical bill until I came to America and had my first major head accident. I can’t conceive of why people would like to pay such extortionate prices as private American hospitals require them to.

        Also, you’re making a grand statement when you liken “the Left” to Stalinism. Nobody is telling anyone to violently dislodge the bourgeois, and I doubt anyone will, given how penetrative the bourgeois has got in modern America/Britain/Australia. And Stalinism is predicated upon national growth of forced and hastened industrialisation. Also, predicated upon separatism and deportation, which the protestors may seem to be taking on by Other’ng the administration, but they are asking at the same time to be included in the system that overlooks them. The simultaneous view of separatism and inclusion request is paradigmatic of Foucauldian theory of power-force relation, which can be read as another thermodynamics rewording (it is in form—and perhaps in form only [although it helps to think in formative metaphors]—the same as the conservation of energy, first law of thermodynamics).

      • Arafat

        Comparing Australia to America is a joke. First of all Australia has next to know black or Hispanic population. Australia is practically all white. White and Christian or white and atheist – with atheists growing as a percentage over time.
        The last time Australia did have a meaningful black population, the Aborigines, the Aussie immigrants treated them worse than dogs.
        What you re trying to convey here is what people say about Sweden and a more socialized system and it’s funny it’s so wrong. Sweden used to be a country of some 8 million people – all white, all Christian and all more or less related. It was one big family. In contrast America could not be more different with a large black and Hispanic community.
        But even more interesting than this – and this shines a bright light on just how wrong Mike is – how liberal and socialist Swedish politicians have opened wide the gates to Muslim immigration over the past two decades. Yes, that is right, liberal and socialist politicians with the best of intentions insisted Sweden become a country with a large Muslim population. Bravo for diversity, eh? Or, maybe not.
        Now in Sweden the socialized programs are bankrupt. Now in Sweden rape, violent crime, no-go zones, violent anti-Semitism are out of control. This, Mike, is the real world, not the classroom world where intellectuals make up fancy names to describe unreal phenomenon.
        But furthermore, Mike, there’s more than enough socialism – as you’ve described it – in America. The welfare state is not a pretend notion with no bearing in reality. It very much exists. And Obama care? That’s not a fantasy either. In fact many of the insurance carriers who signed up for it have already left it rather than face inevitable bankruptcy one of the fruits of a socialist system.
        And let’s not talk about the number of life medical life-saving devices, drugs, procedures, etc. have been invented in a capitalist system versus a socialist one.

      • Mike

        Australia is all white, mate? When was the last time you went? Sure it’s no London: we don’t have sprawling populations of all kinds emigrating and migrating to and fro, no; but we’ve got plenty on our plates. Not all of Australia is diverse, that much I’ll give you. I can’t go from Darwin down to Alice Springs and find many of Asian descent there. But for a population that has only begun to diversify in the last century or so—get this, we didn’t have slavery to bring “black” people over (Aborigines are NOT black)—I’d say having the last name Nguyen be the most popular last name in Sydney, or having 50% of our MPs be from overseas and of non-Australian (whatever that means) descent (look at the 43rd Parliament report). Not to mention, Asian-Aussies are the most of them second, third, fourth+ generations now, so they don’t even count as of “non-Australian descent.” (Besides, Melbourne has the second-biggest Greek population of all the cities in the world, behind Athens. Whether or not you consider that a different race [that much I don’t care, really], many Australians of Eastern European descent have looked down on them for a long time [for some damn reason]. You want diversity? You’ve got it. But why does that matter. Australian diversity and Australian socialism have nothing to do with each other.)

        Racial homogeneity is what many countries are built on. Surely not America, but I’ve made no grand claims on racial diversity, and I’d rather not get this—an admissions open house and protest that has escalated from firing an administrative member (which the school does not have any policy about mentioning—and I wonder what could have happened if this had been announced in the summer, heh) to institutional protest. Regardless, I don’t understand how your example about Sweden relates at all to socialist institutions that have proven to work. “Rape” (ironic, isn’t it?), “violent crimes,” “no-go zones,” and “violent anti-Semitism” just aren’t the kinds of institutions we’re talking about, nor are they related: this logic is no more sound than the logic the people you so despise are using to equate the institution with all that is wrong in their worlds.

        And no, it’s not a capitalist versus socialist conflict: those two systems can coincide and mesh. Yes, there are pulls from one side towards another time and again: Sweden comes back as an example of a once strongly-socialist-leaning country that is coming back to capitalism (and this ironically coincides with your mention of rape, violent crimes, uncontrollable no-go zones, violent anti-Semitism). Oh, and look how much progress capitalist-leaning America—and Australia, to be fair—is doing in relation to one of the largest conflicts we’re going to have in modern history, the environment!

        Out of all that, I’ve just got one question: why are you here arguing with people when you don’t believe in “intellectuals mak[ing] up fancy names to describe unreal phenomenon”? By the same logic (less slippery-slope, perhaps) that has driven you to liken the Left to Stalinism, discourse leads eventually to intellectualism. Oh right, it’s a university.

      • Arafat

        Mike writes, ” I can’t conceive of why people would like to pay such extortionate prices as private American hospitals require them to.”
        Mike, everyone wants everything for nothing. You got that right.
        I think the left should mandate the rich pay for everything for everyone just like you insinuate happens in Australia.
        This reminds me of another leftist program that blew up in our faces (with “our” being left, right and center.)
        Bill Clinton dreamt of a day when everyone could own their own homes and he and the democrats in both houses started that ball rolling. Now that’s a nice idea. Who could not agree to a dream like that, other than people who actually have both feet on the ground instead of firmly planted in the air?
        Well the rest is history. The unintended consequences almost destroyed the world’s economy – all due to what is essentially a socialist program.
        Now don’t get me wrong, the republicans messed this up as bad as the left did, but the initial stupid dream came from the left.

  • Alum ’99

    “the protesters actually stood in front of the door, physically preventing us from leaving so that they could talk to the visitors”

    I hope this is not accurate. Using your body to prevent someone from freely moving about is aggressive; it is certainly not cool for a person in college to physically harass or intimidate high school students to make a point about accountability.

    Otherwise…well, I wish there was a better way to go about getting the point across to the administration that having a sexual predator oversee a broken judicial process comes with consequences, but they seem unwilling to admit fault, improve the situation, or do right to those the system has failed.

    • Ralphiec88

      You were doing fine until you implied that the administration knew about Backer’s history. There is zero evidence of that. Perhaps more troubling is students who claim that they did know and did not report it.
      Backer has been fired. The cases Backer adjudicated have been externally reviewed. If you’re going to claim that the administration must do more, you need to offer specifics.

  • Ralphiec88

    I hope every protester will print this article and look at it again in 10 years. They’ll be ashamed to have been a part of such self-indulgent, meaningless, contrived, and ultimately destructive ‘activism’. It appears no voice is too shrill, no claim is too outrageous, no evidence is too flimsy. Making wild accusations with nothing to back them up, shouting down administrators while claiming administrators don’t listen, and abusing (yes, this is abuse) prospective students and their families is simply unconscionable.

    • Arafat

      Ashamed? You are assuming these people are able to look at themselves honestly. How silly of you to assume these people will ever change, or mend their ways.

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