IMG_2374This week, The Argus had the privilege of sitting down with the one and only Cypress Hubbard-Salk ’24. If you haven’t seen her biking around campus or shooting her next hit documentary, you have probably ordered a scrumptious beverage from her at Espwesso. As the manager this year, Hubbard-Salk has helped to foster warmth and community there. Read on to hear more about her career in politics, her time as a burlesque dancer, and her experience as a pro (intramural) athlete.

The Argus: Why do you think you were nominated for WesCeleb?

Cypress Hubbard-Salk: I really don’t know. I think it’s because I do a lot of things. I dabble around campus.

A: What do you dabble in around campus?

CHS: I dabbled in Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) [and] club soccer. Sophomore year, I dabbled in Psi U, and then I started dabbling in intramural basketball and art classes. I decided on my majors and started dabbling in film and government with an international concentration. I started working at Espwesso [during my] sophomore year. I feel like I just picked up leadership positions. I was an RA [resident advisor], I worked as a PA [production assistant] on senior theses, I worked as a Wesleyan Investment Office intern. I also worked for the JCCP [Jewett Center for Community Partnerships] as an election intern, [and now I do] intramural soccer and intramural basketball. I got really into time-based video—shout out [Assistant Professor of Art] Ilana [Yacine Harris-Babou]. I’m a [course assistant] for [President] Michael Roth [’78]. I think that’s everything that I do on campus.

A: Can you talk about being the manager of Espwesso? 

CHS: Espwesso: my baby, my heart, my soul. My story with it was: I really wanted a job. It was really hard to get jobs as freshman, and everyone was just trying to get random jobs, hence the JCCP intern and the Wesleyan Investment Office intern. Divest though, don’t stan Investment.

But I went to Espwesso and the coffee was ass. All they were allowed to sell was cold brew. So I really didn’t like it. But then I fucked with the people who were working. They all had a nice vibe and they said, It’s not usually how it’s supposed to run but COVID and some things with [the Office of Student Involvement] or something made it [that way].

I applied over the summer. I started my sophomore fall as a barista. And Asher Leeming [’22] was the manager. He was a great manager. I think I got pretty close to him, and he really loved the space and cared about it as an event space, but it was kind of dying. With him, we were probably breaking even. But he was putting in so much work, he was there every day. So I had no desire to become manager. In the year after that, Beatrix Zander [’23] was manager, and she was okay at her job but the issue with Espwesso is you have to be very on top of your shit.

So last year, I think we weren’t even making a profit, we were going into the red and it wasn’t really being held as an event space. People didn’t really come in as often. So then, I was the only senior left. And I’m a strong believer in tradition and seniority. Beatrix asked me if I wanted to be manager, and I [said] no. I saw how much work Asher put into it, and how little work, in the nicest way, she put into it. Either you put in a little bit of work, and it fails, or you have to put in a lot of work. There’s really no middle ground for the space. So then I was like, this space is super valuable, and I really loved it and it should…have a legacy. So I said yes.

In the summer, my financial manager, Sophia Chen [’25] and I—shout out to Sophia—we just grinded to get shit done. That’s why we were able to start it earlier than it’s ever been started. [Over the summer] we hired a full staff, fixed the espresso machine, and renovated the space with decorations. We made a constitution, actually, and put work into it. Changed some things to have it be a little bit more seamless than it was the year prior, because it just wasn’t functioning as well as it should have been. Our biggest thing was just to get it off the ground. Little did I know that it was gonna become the spot this year.

I couldn’t have been happier with its success. I feel like everyone really does go, and it’s such a great place to be on campus and offers so much community. And it’s student-run. We don’t have a lot of those spaces. And it’s nice that there are two women of color leading it. I feel like student spaces on campus sometimes can be niche kinds of pockets. I feel like you can actually be whoever the fuck you want and go and be at Espwesso and get a beverage and do your work and put your headphones on. Or you can go and chat with your friends. I like how you can freely spread awareness for events there. It’s a space that’s not as heavily monitored. It’s however you want to curate it.

A: What other projects have you been working on?

CHS: I’m taking a documentary class where I have to make a documentary over the course of this semester. I’m also in Intermediate Time-Based Media [ARST386], where I’ll be making a project. I don’t really want to disclose it though because part of it is incorporating the student body. I don’t really want people to know. I’ve been making a document this semester on an amazing woman, and I’m gonna screen it at the end of the semester.

A: Do you have a favorite memory from your time here?

CHS: I just like hanging out with my friends. I don’t know if I have a moment that’s like, oh, I love Wesleyan. Playing intramural basketball this year was fun. Dancing. I love to dance. I am in Burlesque. I have a lot of [great memories here]. I think being at Wesleyan aside from classes, but still doing the things in classes are [some of] my favorite moments. I just chilling. 

A: Can you talk more about being in Burlesque? 

CHS: Yeah. I dance in it and this is my second year choreographing. I think it’s very lovely. I’m not one that—especially sophomore year—was that in tune with my sexual-ness. Not sexuality as in preferences, sexual-ness as in feeling sexy. Like, I’d always giggle a lot when people would be like, oh, you’re so sexy. But my first year I was in a dance that was funny and sexy, so that was really great. In my second year, I choreographed it with my really close friend who graduated last year, and we did an all-Black girl dance. That one was really great because it felt very comfortable. It was fun to explore that sexiness with someone who was my close friend, but also with a group of Black women at this campus. Burlesque sometimes has some diversity issues. This year they really fixed it though. So it was nice to find that space within Burlesque.

I would say that Burlesque is not something that I’m very involved in, I kind of just do it. I think I’m more involved in making documentaries, [which] has taken up all of my year. And preparing for this shoot. 

A: What is your documentary about? 

CHS: It’s about my queen. Sorry—it’s about my friend. We are forever friends now. Her name is Barbara McLean. She’s a former addict and now [an] addiction services specialist and photographer, and she has this beautiful story of perseverance and finding light and positivity through immense struggle. She was left at birth, her mom dropped her off at a hospital because her mom was also an addict. So it’s this very cyclical relationship of family and perseverance. She’s honestly the coolest woman and so kind and beautiful inside and out. I just want to make it really good for her.

I [also] worked on Eliot [Kimball ’24]’s documentary [called] “Free Maleek.” As a government major, I’ve always been very interested in social justice and politics. [Over the summer,] I worked for the New York City Council. I think [that experience] was a very pivotal moment of my life: knowing that I wanted to do something very localized, either with local politics, but also [with] stories and things, that really interests me on an individual and personal level. And that’s why I chose documentary—because I think it’s the perfect way to both give something to the person you’re documenting, give them a chance to share their story, but also have people see how other people live their life. And so that’s why I like it.

A: Do you have any post-grad plans or wishes or things you want to do? 

CHS: Post Wesleyan, I might go WWOOFing [World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms] with [Jo Harkless ’24]. I did mostly politics stuff for the past summers, which have been great. I worked with Chi Ossé, District 36, for two years. I got paid, and I learned so many lessons. It was so valuable and great. I want to shift to doing more film things now, so I am probably going to just PA and at the same time still volunteer with the [New York] City Council, because I really believe in them and what they’re doing. I’m probably going to do more political stuff with the election coming up—definitely Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). I’m also part of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). But not the core—I go to the meetings and show up. I helped do things for the uncommitted vote yesterday, and so many people voted uncommitted, like 18-19% in Middletown. So #SJP. It’s because they really stood out and really popped out and did what they needed to do. So I definitely am going to work this summer and then on my off time, try to do a lot of volunteering and stuff. Hopefully, I don’t have to do stuff to have a ceasefire in Palestine. But I think sadly, I will have to do stuff given how horrible Israel is. They are a genocidal country, and it’s crazy. Thank you Michael Roth for finally putting out the thing, a little too late. 

A: What advice would you give your freshman self?

CHS: I don’t know. I wish I took a gap year when the COVID shit happened and had more time with my family, because I think I had a lot of family shit happen since I’ve been here.

I am a believer that everything happens for a reason. And if I took a gap year, I wouldn’t have my friends, and I wouldn’t have my amazingly handsome boyfriend Nicholas Slayton ’24. So yeah, I guess I shoulda coulda woulda. Just explore. Go to Espwesso. Join everything. Spread yourself too thin. Don’t just become a film major because everybody else is becoming a film major. Film minor is cool too.

Check out [Assistant Professor of the Practice in Video and Audio Production] Pedro [Bermudez] and Ilana in the DDC [Digital Design Commons]. That’s actually a great one. Don’t make the DDC a boys club—all the girls out there, go check out a camera and figure out how to do it. Also, college is the time to produce shitty work. You have your whole life to be amazing. Just experiment, and do whatever you want. And if someone doesn’t like what you’re doing, fuck them. Do it again. I feel like I produced such shitty work And also such great work since I’ve been here. And I wouldn’t really want to change anything because I feel like it would change how I ended up. So yeah, #noregrets. Don’t join comedy. Befriend someone with a car. Make sure to book your appointments when you’re home. People are going to gentrify your neighborhood. If you live in Brooklyn, be prepared for that.


Lia Franklin can be reached at 

Jo Harkless can be reached at 

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