I’m angry. As a Wesleyan student, I am of course unhappy with the recent information that has come to light concerning the administration. I am also unhappy, however, with how some of my peers have decided to vocalize their sentiments. I will always support student activism and protesting, but it is important to me that such protesting is targeted in the right direction, and on Monday this was not the case. When I clocked in to my job at admissions on Monday morning to lead a tour of prospective students and parents, I was informed that student protesters had placed themselves along the tour route in order to relay their message directly to the heightened number of visitors on campus for the Open House. I can deal with that to an extent. I do think it is important for prospective families to understand what is happening on campus.  What I can’t support, though, is protestors physically and vocally preventing tours, because this most directly affects me—a fellow student just trying to do my job.

 

While taking my visitors through Olin Library not only did student protesters begin speaking through a bullhorn in an attempt to overpower whatever the guides were saying to their groups, my group was also prevented from leaving the building by protesters placing themselves in front of the door and refusing to move until they had said their piece. Upon asking them to let us pass through—because our tours are kept on a very tight schedule, and as an employee of admissions I am expected to bring my tour group back by a certain time, which this interruption prevented me from doing—they told me they were interrupting us anyways. Again—I am all for making the recent events on campus known to my visitors, but I am not for negatively impacting fellow students in the process. Having finally been able to continue my tour, we were once again interrupted during our last stop in Usdan. It became clear that there would not be a stopping point in the talking that would allow the protesters to jump in, so instead they simply started shouting over the multiple tour groups in the area in an attempt to overpower the guides. I was finally forced to conclude my tour sooner than I would have because my visitors were no longer able to hear what I was saying.

 

So to the protesters, let me say this—I am angry. I’m angry because instead of making your voices heard to the administration—who you are mad at—you instead kept me from doing my job, which I need in order to help support myself on campus. In protesting to make our campus feel safer for everyone, you not only made young visitors feel uncomfortable by physically blocking their way, you made me feel targeted for attempting to do my job—is that the feeling of safety you’re going for? I like to think that what those visitors saw today will most likely not make or break their decision, in which case the person who has been most impacted by what you did is me, your peer, who has nothing but sympathy and support for what you are upset about. I’m sure that was not your intention in organizing these protests, but it was the result, and I think other students impacted would feel similarly which is why I’m writing this now.  In the past week, it seems as though students have grown so upset that in the thick of it they are forgetting where to target those sentiments, and I have trouble supporting that. My end goal is to help make Wesleyan a better place in the long run, as I’m sure you want to do as well, and I just don’t think the approach you took on Monday is going to help make that happen. I want to stand by you in your anger towards the administration and their decisions, but that’s just it—it’s the administration who should be the target of the anger. If we’re going to yell, let’s make sure we’re yelling at the people who messed up, not the unsuspecting high schoolers who might not even understand many of the things you’re protesting about. I can’t stand by targeting that anger towards uninvolved visitors, I just don’t think that will affect the change you’re fighting for. All it has really done is turned your own peer away.

 

You may disagree with what I’m saying, and I accept that. I am simply stating my own frustration with what I experienced on Monday, and hoping that even just one person reading this will take a second look at how they are approaching the given situation on campus.

  • Ralphiec88

    It is ironic to be talking about safety, aggression, and violence while shouting at prospective students and their families through a bullhorn while blocking their path.

  • alum

    Amen.

  • DavidL

    It tells a lot that the writer of this feels the need to remain unidentified. The vicious young fascists would go after him next. You can count on it.

    • Wrong

      Fascism is right-wing authoritarian extremism. I think you don’t mean that to refer to Wesleyan liberals.

      • disqus_LJH92ylDNO

        They are fascists of the left akin to what supporters of the Cultural Revolution were. Illiberal liberals. The Academic Talaban. Labels matter not.

  • A protester

    I’m sorry you feel the way you do, but I think you should think hard about why you acted and reacted the way you did.

    If you can’t give 2 minutes out of a 70 minute tour to let activists illuminate the very real problems that this campus is facing—problems that you could get fired for revealing as we revealed them, I don’t think you’re as committed to this cause as you claim to be.

    For context and signal-boosting, here’s your 2 minutes:

    For the next two minutes, the Wesleyan Student Body is taking over your tour.
    You may have noticed that life on the Wesleyan campus has been disturbed.
    You deserve to know why.
    We recently discovered that the Dean of Students, whose job was to help survivors of sexual assault, is himself a sexual predator. His name is Scott Backer.
    Here at Wesleyan, this sexual predator was in charge of on-campus sexual assault hearings for four years. Survivors of sexual assault were traumatized by his neglect, and the Administration did nothing despite constant complaints.
    The Administration concealed their knowledge of this sexual predator until an investigation by the Boston Globe revealed them last week.
    Members of the Administration knew that Backer was a sexual predator as early as 2010.
    Would the Administration ever have told us?
    There have been 69 reports of rape on-campus in the past 3 years.
    Last year, the Administration found only a small handful of individuals responsible for sexual assault on-campus.
    Every year there are hundreds of sexual assaults that go unreported. Survivors do not report because they do not trust the Administration.
    Sexual assault at Wesleyan is just one part of a long history of the Administration privileging its wealth over the wellbeing of its students.
    To name a few examples—the Administration prosecutes trans students trying to get gender neutral bathrooms, trivializes the importance of the African American Studies, scapegoats and expels drug users and distributors just to save face, refuses to provide necessary funding for on-campus mental health services, and neglects low-income students again and again.
    The Administration ignores and gaslights students that speak up about administrative failures.
    The Administration appropriates images of student activism, particularly that of marginalized students, to brand themselves as “Diversity University.”
    The Administration uses Wesleyan’s public image as a tool for financial gain, even though this image does not reflect the realities of students on campus.

    Thank you for sharing, and I’m sorry that you experienced our protest as a violence.

    In solidarity and self reflection,
    a friend

    • A protester

      And, the last bit of the two minutes—

      “Until the aministration restructures to give students more power and devotes necessary resources to the acute needs of marginalized students on campus, we will continue to disrupt their brand.”

      It’s this brand disruption that I realize you couldn’t explicity take part in without risk of losing your job, and that you don’t seem to understand. This is why we did what we did.

      • ’19

        It’s also an ineffective protest that did more harm than good. What changed in the administration? Nothing. The college row demonstration was incredible, but shouting at people in the library just frightened and pissed people off. You had no list of demands either. You made them feel threatened AND the administration did nothing. you failed. hard.

      • disqus_LJH92ylDNO

        You’ve succeeded only in helping to make Wesleyan increasingly a punch line. Where once Wesleyan was considered a peer of the top schools attracting the top students, it will sink to be considered one of the tired lefty enclaves.

    • alum

      The “Wesleyan Student Body” is taking over the tour? You don’t speak for the student body as a whole, and how dare you assume as much.

      Violence: an unwanted assertion of force or power. Pretty sure your protest qualified.

      Additionally, Wesleyan fired Backer within 24 hours of finding out about his history. I don’t think the protestors are acknowledging this – it’s not like they kept him around or in his position after they found out.

  • Charles Williams

    This “protest ” was Trump worthy. Your objectives were not advanced.
    Alum

  • No

    Fellow guide here. This is a pretty classic “I agree with you until it affects me” argument. Consider this, if protesters never disrupted anyone, would change be more or less likely to occur? Take a moment to reflect on your place within the larger issue. Tours are important, campus rape culture and the appointment of a sexual predator to adjudicate rape claims is more important.

    Another thing, targeting the tours is in fact targeting the administration. Being a guide, you know as well as I do just how carefully cultivated the image of Wesleyan presented to incoming students is. Disrupting this materially hurts the administration. Can you see this connection? It just so happens that doing so requires the confusion of some high schoolers and yes, the interruption of your job.

    In any case, delaying the tour gets you more $$.

  • disqus_LJH92ylDNO

    I know of several families who took Wesleyan off of their visit list. The school’s reputation and ranking will continue to plummet.

  • disqus_LJH92ylDNO

    Spoiled nimwits espousing spoiled ideology. They’d the new Taliban.

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