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.