On May fourth of this year, President Michael Roth wrote a brief article in the Argus heralding the glossy new RJ Julia bookstore. He expressed his excitement “for the opening of this great new cultural destination for the Wesleyan and greater Middletown communities and for the possibilities of even deeper connections between the two.” At the same time, unknown to its consumers and employees, plans were in the works to dissolve a longstanding Wesleyan and Middletown community asset that benefits young impoverished Middletown children. The Green Street Teaching and Learning Center’s fall semester will be its last. The University determined that a “reallocation” of outreach funding was the best way for Wesleyan to “optimize” its impact in the community. This abrupt decision, made over the summer without consulting the numerous Wesleyan work study students who tutor there and the numerous Middletown families who put their faith in the program and, in turn, the University, calls into question exactly what kind of “deep connections” with the community Wesleyan seeks. Green Street opened its doors and arms to the Middletown community and its youth in 2005, while Wesleyan closed those very doors in 2017. The closure of Green Street and the coincidental opening of our posh new bookstore reflects Wesleyan’s pivot away from the financially disadvantaged members of our community. Green Street provided Middletown families, regardless of their financial standing, with a safe communal space devoted to the cultivation of child creativity and the progression of child learning. And in said role, it flourished. It was a place where local youth could learn to play the piano, write storybooks or dance hip-hop. Where dedicated Wesleyan students would forge friendships across the homework-time table. Where a selfless team of fulltime staff works year round to ensure that the program’s ‘impact’ is maximized. Where diversity thrives both among the children and employees. It was a place of unparalleled progress in the relationship between Wesleyan and the Middletown community. A place whose closure was done in the name of optimizing community ‘impact’. Last year, I had the pleasure of being on ‘bus duty’ on Thursdays. I would wait by the door to greet all the kids as they got off the bus. In the entryway, is a wall filled with colorful construction paper cut outs of birds. Each bird has the name of a donor and the color of the bird corresponds to the donor’s contribution. I would often look on a red cardinal—signifying the highest tier contribution—with the names of President Roth and his wife on it. I would look at it with a sense of pride. Our president, decided to support Green Street from not just an institutional standpoint but from a personal one as well. Now, I aim to ask the same president for something more—more than a red cardinal. I ask, on behalf of my fellow employees and peers, his support for Green Street once more. Though I am slated to be out of a job next spring, I believe I can find another one. I am certain however that Middletown will not find another Green Street. It is a cultural destination whose deep roots tie together the Wesleyan and Middletown communities. In one building, with the selfless cause of advancing local youths, Middletown and Wesleyan truly become one.
  • Alum

    It saddens me to see Green Street go like this. When I was a student at Wes, I volunteered in the music mentors program. It was one of the most fulfilling things I did in my time in college. Green Street was an incredible place, and a crucial community resource. I can’t say the same about the new bookstore