Last Thursday, the University unveiled its new logo and website as part of the University’s newly announced rebranding efforts.
This decision was met with significant backlash from the student body. One way in which students expressed their frustration was through posts on the Facebook group ‘Soggy We$ Memes’. With over 2,000 members, ‘Soggy We$ Memes’ serves as a platform for students to create and share a wide range of Wesleyan-related memes, pictures, and videos.
According to Joshua Nodiff ’19, one of the Facebook group’s admins, there were 2.4k members before the logo change and 2.6k the day after.
“Several Directors of Marketing and Communications from multiple colleges, including Wesleyan, have attempted to join the group this week,” he wrote in a message to the Argus. “We’ve rejected them all, but it concerns me to think that the administration wants to surveil or co-opt our memes to inform their marketing strategies.”
These memes ridiculed the University’s new logo for a multitude of reasons, with members of the Facebook group comparing the logo to the logo of a tech company and even a banner used in the movie ‘Shrek’. The Argus interviewed a handful of students who made some of these memes.
Terra Ganey ’21 told the Argus that she was inspired to make her meme showing the logo next to a dreidel after her boss at ‘WesWings’ compared the logo to a Hebrew letter.
When asked about general reactions to the new logo, criticisms stemmed from a wide range of reasons.
Tyler Lederer-Plaskett ’21 wrote that the new logo is objectively inferior to the old.
“However, my main issue with the whole thing was how the administration handled it,” he wrote in an email to the Argus. “I feel…as if the administration acts like they deeply care about student input, but failed to consult any part of the student body.”
Nodiff, who described the new logo as horrendous, also wrote about how the logo change demonstrates how removed the administration is from students.
“It demonstrates how out of touch the university’s communications team is with the student body and with the prospective students they intend to attract,” he wrote.
Grayson Sussman Squires ’21 went so far as to organize a protest in Usdan in response to the new logo, which he feels fails to represent Wesleyan. While he chose to share the event on WesAdmits instead of ‘Soggy We$ Memes’, he designed this event to be an unconventional meme. Sussman Squires criticized many of the other memes that had been posted for their lack of originality.
Kevin DeLoughry ’21 took issue with not only the new logo, but also the accompanying video on the main page of the University’s website.
“That video they released, with the pentagon corners framing people, was laughably empty and meaningless. It felt like the orientation video for a random corporation,” wrote DeLoughry in a message to the Argus.
While students were angered by the actual design of the logo and website, many also expressed disapproval of the administration’s misguided allocation of resources. Some argued that instead of focusing on these changes, the institution should use funds to address other issues on campus.
Halie Binstock ’19 expressed frustration with recent changes.
“I think the fact that this change is purely cosmetic is kind of frustrating, when you consider the University’s inertia on projects like strengthening CAPS or maintaining the wonderful Green Street Teaching and Learning Center community partnership,” she wrote.
Nodiff too brought up concerns with the University’s allocation of funds.
“That money could have been reallocated towards pressing concerns, like increasing the campus minimum wage to $15/hour or hiring new CAPS staff,” he wrote.
Ultimately, when asked about how Wesleyan might have gone about redesigning its image, many recognized rebranding as an important part of operating a university. They were critical, however, of the way Wesleyan chose to go about it.
“I think the value of this type of rebranding comes down to marketing, which obviously has to happen at an institution that needs to attract tuition-paying students every year to exist, but which shouldn’t be put before the actual quality of the institution itself,” Binstock wrote.
Nodiff outlined some of the main lines of arguments regarding the logo.
“Some have argued that Wesleyan rebranded itself to look more like a tech company,” he wrote. “Others have argued that the logo resembles a hybrid between neoliberal and fascistic iconography. While I may not necessarily interpret it that way, I do wonder what type of prospective students will be attracted to Wesleyan with such rebranding…How will the campus culture change?”
Students and alumni have formally organized against the new logo with a petition that was circulated on social media throughout the weekend. The petition, titled “Get Rid of the New Wesleyan University Logo,” was started by an account on Care2 Petitions named ‘The People of Wesleyan’ and has a goal of 3,000 supporters.
“Our Wesleyan University has decided to change its logo in the middle of the night,” the petition reads. “I, as an alumnus was not consulted about the change, nor I have learned, were current students consulted as well. It has come to my understanding that the overwhelming opinion is that the old crest and “W” were cherished representations of our school and should not be changed…Please sign this petition if you agree that we should be kept in the know about such major decisions and have a proper re-evaluation about rebranding. We should be focusing on more pressing issues like CAPS, which affect our current students’ day-to-day lives.”
At publication, the petition had 2,068 supporters.
One alum who signed the petition commented on the rebranding effort’s similarity to the University’s disastrous ‘Independent Ivy’ admissions campaign which provoked student protests in the late 1990s.
“This feels like a repeat of the ‘Independent Ivy’ debacle, where the administration attempted to foist a consultant-driven change on Wesleyan without buy-in from students, alumni, and faculty,” supporter Brian K. wrote under the petition. “Hopefully this design failure is tossed into the trash can just as quickly as that slogan was.”
The University eventually dropped this campaign after significant pushback from the Wesleyan community.
Claire Isenegger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.