Olivia Drake

Students Attend Discussion on Racism, Sexism, Bigotry in NYC

At left, Sara Feldman '17, Gabe Hurlock '20, Kaiyana Makami '19, Angela Davis and Claudia Khahindi '19 gather at the "We're Not Going Back" Unity Rally in New York City on March 4. 

At left, Sara Feldman ’17, Gabe Hurlock ’20, Kaiyana Makami ’19, Angela Davis and Claudia Khahindi ’19 gather at the “We’re Not Going Back” Unity Rally and discussion in New York City on March 4.

On March 4, members of the student activist organization Sophia traveled to New York City to attend the Community Party USA Unity Rally and discussion against racism, sexism and all forms of bigotry with special guest and keynote speaker Angela Davis.

Angela Davis speaks at the Unity Rally. (Photo by Gabe Hurlock '20)

Angela Davis speaks at the Unity Rally. (Photo by Gabe Hurlock ’20)

Inspired by the rising necessity for constructive solidarity and community, Sophia founder and president, Posse veteran scholar Gabe Hurlock ’20 created the organization to promote inclusion, multiculturalism, and personhood on the Wesleyan campus and in the Middletown community. The organization focuses on critical philosophy and conceptualization of social justice issues through community organization.

The rally featured Jamaican author and poet Staceyann Chin and political activist Angela Davis as the keynote speaker. Davis is known internationally for her ongoing work to combat all forms of oppression in the U.S. and abroad. She is a founding member of Critical Resistance, a national organization dedicated to the dismantling of the prison industrial complex. The main topic of the evening was cultivating unity and winning a wide-ranging program of reforms that put the well being of people and the planet before private profits.

“I intended for this trip to demonstrate that the act of solidarity requires more than simply being intellectually aware of the disparities plaguing our society, because activism is central to philosophy,” Hurlock said. “After meeting Angela Davis, we all gained a refreshed perspective on what it really means to fight for what you believe in. The prosperity of humanity depends heavily on our capacity to speak up and defend justice everywhere.”

The trip was sponsored by Wesleyan’s Office for Equity and Inclusion and the Student Budget Committee.

Experts Discuss Fake News, Then and Now at History Matters Panel

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On March 7, the History Department sponsored a History Matters Panel on “Fake News: Then and Now.” Speakers included Courtney Fullilove, assistant professor of history, assistant professor of environmental studies, assistant professor of science in society; Ying Jia Tan, assistant professor of history, assistant professor of East Asian studies; and Erik Grimmer-Solem, associate professor of history, associate professor of German studies.

Spring Break Begins with a Snowy Start

Wesleyan’s midsemester recess, otherwise known as spring break, began with a snowy start on March 10. On March 14, Winter Storm Stella powdered campus with an additional foot of snow. Classes will resume on March 27. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Enjoy spring break from these lounge chairs on Foss Hill.

Enjoy spring break from these lounge chairs on Foss Hill.

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Students and their canine companion enjoy the snow on Andrus Field.

Commencement Speaker, Honorary Degree Recipients Announced

Wesleyan will present three honorary doctorates at the University’s 185th Commencement on May 28. The distinguished writer Claudia Rankine will deliver the Commencement address. Wesleyan will also honor Jo Handelsman, former associate director for science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Cristina Jiménez, executive director and co-founder of United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the country. The Baldwin Medal, the highest award of the Alumni Association, will be presented to John ’62 and Gina Driscoll.

Claudia Rankine
Poet, essayist and playwright, Claudia Rankine is the recipient of numerous awards for work described as fearless in its pursuit of new directions in American poetry.

Board of Trustees Confers Tenure on Fullilove, Irani

Courtney Fullilove and Tushar Irani.

Courtney Fullilove and Tushar Irani.

At its most recent meeting, the Board of Trustees conferred tenure on Courtney Fullilove, associate professor of history, and Tushar Irani, associate professor of letters and philosophy. Additional tenure announcements may be made after the May meeting of the Board of Trustees.

Brief descriptions of their areas of research and teaching appear below.

Courtney Fullilove is a historian of 19th century U.S. social history. Her research interests in state building, agriculture, medicine and law are united by an engagement with the politics of development, particularly in the areas of sustainable development, biodiversity, intellectual property law and cultural heritage. Her book, The Profit of the Earth: The Global Seeds of American Agriculture (University of Chicago Press, 2017), characterizes U.S. agricultural expansion in the 19th century as a complex appropriation and reconfiguration of local knowledge and resources. She teaches courses on the history of science and technology in the United States, as viewed from a global perspective.

Tushar Irani’s research focuses on ancient Greek and Roman philosophy. In addition to his scholarship on Plato, he works on questions of philosophical method, the history and practice of rhetoric, and the history of ethics. His recent book, Plato on the Value of Philosophy: The Art of Argument in the Gorgias and Phaedrus (Cambridge University Press, 2017), provides an innovative reading of Plato’s views on the role and purpose of argument in civic life. He offers courses on the philosophy, literature and history of the ancient world, the history and practice of civil disobedience, and virtue ethics.

Students Learn about Jewish Culture by Making Hamantaschen

Chabad at Wesleyan hosted a hamantaschen making workshop March 1 in Exley Science Center. Hamantaschen (also called ozney Haman or Haman’s ears in Hebrew) are tasty, flaky treats with fillings that are often made during the Jewish festival of Purim. Purim is celebrated on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar (late winter/early spring). The festival commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia from Haman the Agagite’s plot “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day,” as recorded in the Megillah (book of Esther). The points on the cookie may be symbolic of Haman’s three-cornered hat.

Chabad at Wesleyan opened on campus in 2011 with social, educational, recreational and religious programming for students and faculty. “Chabad is a home where all Jews are welcome no matter what affiliation, denomination or sexual orientation,” said Rabbi Levi Schectman. “We give you the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of your Jewish heritage. Most importantly, Chabad is a place where being Jewish is fun.”

Chabad at Wesleyan also hosts an annual challah bake, a shofar making, a Chanukah celebration, “Sushi in the Sukkah,” a matzah bake and more. The organization is affiliated with Wesleyan’s Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, which offers religious, educational, cultural, political and social activities for Wesleyan’s Jewish, Catholic, Muslim and Protestant communities.

Wesleyan also offers additional spiritual opportunities.

Photos of the hamantaschen making are below: (Photos by Jonas Powell ’18)

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Patricelli Center Awards Seed Grants to 3 Student-Led Ventures

AJ Wilson ’18 speaks about his project, Dream Catchers, which received a seed

AJ Wilson ’18 speaks about his organization, Dream Catchers, which received a $5,000 seed grant from the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship.

On Feb. 27, three student-led social impact projects received a Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship 2017 seed grant. The Patricelli Center will award these ventures with $5,000 each in unrestricted funds as well as training, advising, mentoring, incubator workspace and other resources from the Patricelli Center.

Recipients were selected from a pool of finalists who submitted written business plans and pitched to a panel of expert judges comprised of alumni, parents, students, faculty and community partners. Applicants were assessed on their project design, leadership qualities and potential for social impact.

The 2017 Seed Grant recipients are:

Dream Chasers led by AJ Wilson ’18, Rhea Drozdenko ’18, Julian Payne and Celina Cotton is a registered non-profit organization dedicated to closing the academic and opportunity gaps in the South and Midwest through peer mentorship, events and workshops, and community engagement.

“Every student needs a peer mentor,” Wilson said. “We believe students need the ability to create, innovate, and work with and for their peers. We also believe students need a safe and nurturing environment that allows them to pursue any academic dream they desire. Our vision is for students to realize no dream is too large or too impossible to pursue.”

Black History Month Events Celebrate Life, Culture, Experiences

The month of February marked the campus-wide celebration of Black History Month. Hosted by Ujamaa, Wesleyan’s Black Student Union, students took part in a plethora of events that celebrated black life, experiences and culture.

This year events centered around the theme, “Freedom is a Constant Struggle,” highlighting the many years of oppression people of color faced in the United States. Events included a celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a student of color art show, a leadership conference, a Black History Month formal and much more.

Photos of Black History Month activities are below: (Photos by Gabi Hurlock ’20, Olivia Drake and Rebecca Goldfarb Terry ‘ 19)

On Feb. 23, students of color presented their visual work at the Be the Art showcase. The exhibit is housed in Zilkha Gallery

On Feb. 23, students of color presented their visual work at the Be the Art showcase. The exhibit is housed in Zilkha Gallery.