Campus News & Events

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.

New Wesleyan Bookstore to Offer Food by ‘grown’

grownThe new Wesleyan R.J. Julia Bookstore on Main Street, opening this spring, will feature a café run by grown, a USDA organic certified concept based in Miami, Fla. owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Shannon Allen (a Middletown native) and NBA champion Ray Allen (also a proud University of Connecticut Husky and Olympic gold medalist). grown marries the quality of farm-to-fork cuisine with a level of convenience that makes it possible for busy people on the go to access high-quality foods at affordable prices.

The Wesleyan R.J. Julia Bookstore will be located at 413 Main Street, near the intersection of Washington Street, in a 12,000-square-foot, two-story space.

“We’re delighted to partner with grown in this exciting new venture. Their commitment to wholesome food and sustainable practices are a perfect fit for Wesleyan,” said Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78. “We think the addition of this healthy option on Main Street is a great thing for the people of Middletown.”

Student-Athletes Honored for All-Academic, All-Sportsmanship

Rachel Aronow '17 is one of 10 student-athletes on the women's ice hockey team who received NESCAC All-Academic honors.

Rachel Aronow ’17 is one of 10 student-athletes on the women’s ice hockey team who received NESCAC All-Academic honors.

Ninety-four Wesleyan student-athletes were honored for their excellence in the classroom when the NESCAC announced its 2016-17 Winter All-Academic Team on March 9, while eight others were named to the All-Sportsmanship Team.

To be honored on the All-Academic Team, a student-athlete must have reached sophomore academic standing and be a varsity letter winner with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.40. A transfer student must have completed one year of study at the institution.

The women’s indoor track & field team led the way for the Cardinals with 19 selections, followed by men’s ice hockey with 16, women’s swimming & diving with 11, women’s ice hockey with 10, men’s indoor track & field with nine, and men’s swimming & diving with eight.

McGuire ’17, Araki ’17 Receive Seed Grant to Spearhead MindScope Health

MindScope Healthmindscope, an organization led by Siri McGuire ’17 and Taiga Araki ’17 has won the $10,000 Connecticut College Aetna Foundation seed stage grant—a branch of InnovateHealth Yale and the Aetna Foundation.

MindScope works to improve the quality of life for patients with brain diseases and mental illnesses. Founded by patients of brain diseases and mental illnesses, MindScope Health aims to transform the way that invisible diseases and symptoms are communicated and treated. By allowing patients to alternatively communicate their symptoms to their doctors through the use of an app, symptoms can be recorded overtime, as patients rate the severity of their symptoms throughout the day. That information is then compiled and displayed for doctors, creating a patient-led and patient-centered design process.

Wesleyan Media Project Releases Analysis on 2016 Election

mediaThe 2016 presidential campaign broke the mold when it comes to patterns of political advertising. But, in a new publication, the Wesleyan Media Project (co-directed by Associate Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler) says, “Not so fast” to those who argue that advertising no longer matters in elections.

The article published in The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics (open access through mid-April 2017) shows that the presidential race featured far less advertising than the previous cycle, a huge imbalance in the number of ads across candidates, and one candidate who almost ignored discussions of policy. Yet, at the congressional level, political advertising appeared far more ordinary. The authors share lessons about advertising in the 2016 campaign, and argue that its seeming lack of effectiveness may owe to the unusual nature of the presidential campaign with one nonconventional candidate and the other using an unconventional message strategy.

Furthermore, the authors demonstrate that 1) Clinton’s unexpected losses came in states in which she failed to air ads until the last week, and 2) Clinton’s message was devoid of policy discussions in a way not seen in the previous four presidential contests.

Read more on the Wesleyan Media Project blog, and in this Vox story.

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.

Tuition, Residential Comprehensive Fees Increase by 3.7 Percent

At its meeting March 4, the Board of Trustees voted to increase tuition and residential comprehensive fees by 3.7 percent for the 2017-18 year.

Tuition and fees for the 2017–18 year will be $52,474. The residential comprehensive fee for first-year and sophomore students will be $14,466, for juniors and seniors, $16,446.

As always, Wesleyan will meet the full demonstrated financial need of all admitted students. Recent initiatives have eliminated loans for our neediest students and lowered overall student debt to levels far below the national average. Over the next four years, Wesleyan will phase in additional changes to financial aid that will result in higher grants for most students, as well as changes to student contributions, loan policies and other provisions that will benefit students and their families.

Wesleyan’s THIS IS WHY fundraising campaign, which concluded in June with $482 million raised, has seen the creation of 120 new endowed scholarships, and over $227 million in new endowment and annual funding to support financial aid.

As part of its affordability program, Wesleyan continues to offer the three-year BA option, announced in 2012 with the potential to save students about 20 percent on tuition. Since then, Wesleyan has seen a significant increase in the number of students taking advantage of this program.

Otake, Johnston ‘Fukushima’ Project Culminating Events in NYC on March 11

remembering fukushima e-vite 3.6 copy

Eiko Otake stands on the top of a breakwater in a dark gray kimono. To her right, the ocean crashes into piles of concrete cubes–their shapes, stacked together, seem almost too clean, like abstractions of stone. She clutches a large but frayed scarlet cloth that catches the wind and encircles her, hovering just inches from her skin. Following the breakwater into the distance, a large cubic structure is visible along the water’s edge. It is the Fukushima Daini Nuclear Plant, 12 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant. She is standing at the midpoint between the infamous two, in the area where the tsunami wave reached 68 feet and the level of radiation remains very high.

Tableaux like this constitute A Body in Fukushima (2016), a series of photographs by Otake, visiting artist in dance and the College of East Asian Studies, and her collaborator William Johnston, professor of history, East Asian studies, science in society and environmental studies. The series shows her, a lone body in the landscape of Fukushima, Japan, in the aftermath of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. This collaborative photo exhibition had been on Wesleyan’s campus from February through May 2015.

Currently in New York City as part of The Christa Project: Manifesting Diving Bodies, at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, the exhibit will culminate in Remembering Fukushima: Art and Conversations at the Cathedral on March 11, the sixth anniversary of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdowns that followed.

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.

President Roth to Lead Wesleyan through 2023

Donna Morea ’76, P’06, chair of Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees, sent the following message to the campus community on Saturday, March 4:

Michael S. Roth '78 became the 16th president of Wesleyan University on July 1, 2007.

Michael S. Roth ’78 became the 16th president of Wesleyan University on July 1, 2007.

I’m pleased to announce that today, the University recognized the extraordinary leadership of President Michael S. Roth and offered him an extension of his contract. I’m delighted to report that he has committed to lead Wesleyan through 2023.

This is truly an exciting time for Wesleyan. With the support of our community and Michael’s outstanding leadership, our reputation for being at the forefront of pragmatic liberal education continues to grow. Michael led our highly successful THIS IS WHY campaign, which raised significant funds for financial aid. He has worked to deepen our resolve to cultivate a supportive campus community where all have ample opportunity to thrive and participate fully in our vibrant culture. Thanks to a concerted effort to expand recognition of Wesleyan, record numbers of students from around the world have sought the opportunity to learn here. Through a consultative process with all university constituencies, Michael is developing a vision for the future in “Beyond 2020: Strategies for Wesleyan” that will encourage and support innovations such as our new course offerings in design and engineering.

For almost 10 years now, Michael’s leadership has been crucial to Wesleyan’s success. We have been fortunate indeed to have a president who believes so deeply in our mission and advocates for it so effectively, so eloquently. He has done much to secure Wesleyan’s future and enhance recognition of our crucial role in American higher education. Under his leadership, Wesleyan has gained long-term fiscal stability through changes to our fundraising, spending and debt management. We’ve launched innovative programs, including the Shapiro Creative Writing Center, the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life and four interdisciplinary colleges.

Now more than ever, our country needs Wesleyan graduates whose liberal education has prepared them to address complex problems and create powerful opportunities. With Michael’s bold, visionary leadership and the continued support of our community, I am confident that we will meet if not surpass our high aspirations.

STEM Zone 42 Learning Hub Opens in Science Library

A new teaching and learning space can be found on campus: STEM Zone 42.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Zone 42, located in the Science Library, is a collaborative project by the Office of Equity and Inclusion, the WesMaSS program and Academic Affairs.

Operating as a pilot program this semester, STEM Zone 42 is a space where students currently taking introductory biology and chemistry courses can receive academic support. Students can get help from course teaching assistants, course instructors, peer mentors and fellow students.

“We are hoping to reduce barriers students experience in seeking academic help and create and foster a STEM community at Wesleyan, in which we work together towards academic success,” explained Teshia Levy-Grant, interim dean for equity and inclusion. “By providing this academic resource to all students, we aim to improve student performance and increase overall retention in the sciences and math.”

Levy-Grant and her team hope to see STEM Zone 42 become a central location for student services, and double as a place where they can work, study and learn together. “This will be more of a one-stop model,” said Levy-Grant. “We now have the Career Center doing drop in hours in the space where students can learn about opportunities for summer internships and programs, but also get help with their resumes.”

And where does the number 42 come from? Levy-Grant explained, “The reference to 42 is inspired by Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s the ‘Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything,’ calculated by a supercomputer, Deep Thought, over a period of 7.5 million years.”

STEM Zone 42 operates on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3-5 p.m.; Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7-9 p.m., Saturdays at 3-5 p.m., and Sundays from 7-9 p.m.

Photos of STEM Zone’s opening are below:

eve_stemzoneopening_2017-0206155047

Gottschalk Writes on the Sufis and Why They Threaten ISIS

Peter Gottschalk

Peter Gottschalk

Professor of Religion Peter Gottschalk recently authored an article, “Who are the Sufis and why does ISIS see them as threatening,” which appeared on Raw Story and The Conversation.

The Sufis, who have been the target of violent attacks in Pakistan in recent years, practice austerity “stemming from a sincere religious devotion that compelled the Sufi into a close, personal relationship with God, modeled on aspects of the Prophet Muhammad’s life. This often involved a more inward, contemplative focus than many other forms of Islamic practice.” And, according to Gottschalk, though “many Muslims and non-Muslims around the globe celebrate Sufi saints and gather together for worship in their shrines,” these practices “do not conform to the Islamic ideologies of intolerant revivalist groups such as the Islamic State.”

Gottschalk argues that there are two reasons why the Islamic State violently opposes Sufis:

First, some Sufis – as illustrated by Rabia, the Sufi from Basra – deliberately flout the Islamic conventions of their peers, which causes many in their communities to condemn their unorthodox views and practices.

Second, many Muslims, not just militants, consider shrine devotion as superstitious and idolatrous. The popularity among Muslims and non-Muslims of tomb veneration alarms many conservative Muslims.

When a Sufi tomb grows in reputation for its miraculous powers, then an increasing number of people begin to frequent it to seek blessings. The tombs often become a gathering place for Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and people from other faiths.

Special songs of praise – “qawwali” – are sung at these shrines that express Islamic values using the imagery of love and devotion.

However, Islamist groups such as the Taliban reject shrine worship as well as dancing and singing as un-Islamic (hence their assassination of the world-famous qawwali singer Amjad Sabri). In their view, prayers to Sufis are idolatrous.

Gottschalk also is professor of science in society, and director of the Office of Faculty Career Development.