Wesleyan in the News

Lauren RubensteinApril 27, 202010min

NewsWesleyan in the News

1. Washington Post: “Biden Makes End Run Around Trump as the President Dominates the National Stage”

Erika Franklin Fowler, associate professor of government and co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, comments on Biden’s unusual strategy during an unprecedented time for the 2020 presidential campaign. “There is not a ready off-the-shelf playbook for how you campaign in this environment if you are a nonincumbent, so that’s part of what you’re seeing,” she said. “We’re all being thrown into this new environment, where campaigns are going to need to reinvent, to some extent, how they go about things, how they going to go about reaching citizens.” Fowler added, “I think we’re at a stage of this event where people are starting to feel coronavirus fatigue. So it seems like to me that the local television news strategy and reaching around is probably a good one at this point.”

2. Hartford Courant: “You Can’t Afford to Get Sick in Prison. I Know from Being There.”

Amid devastating news reports of the uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus in prisons, Charles Barber, associate professor of the practice in letters, and his collaborator William Outlaw share how frightening it is to be sick and vulnerable in prison. Barber is the author of a recent book about Outlaw’s life, Citizen Outlaw: One Man’s Journey from Gang Leader to Peacekeeper, which recounts Outlaw’s journey from a feared New Haven gang leader to a community outreach worker for the Connecticut Violence Intervention Program in New Haven.

3. The Hechinger Report: “OPINION: When It Comes to Liberal-Arts Education, Online Learning Changes Only the Tools”

In this op-ed, President Michael Roth ’78 responds to predictions that “things will never be the same in higher education” following the massive shift to online learning necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic. He writes about his own experience, as well as that of his colleagues, in translating their courses to an online format. While students seem able to get a hold of the material through online teaching, he writes, students and faculty alike miss the opportunities that a residential campus affords to “amplify the straightforward instruction from classes via serendipitous encounters, informal discussion and collaborative discovery.” Ultimately, he predicts, “We are unlikely to see a massive migration away from campuses as a result of more students and teachers having ‘discovered’ distance learning. But professors are likely to use a wider array of digital tools so as to make their in-person teaching on campus as compelling as possible. Tools in liberal education may be changing, but its essential mission—its core task of empowering the whole person—is not.”

4. Newsweek: “Has a State Ever Gone Bankrupt?”

Richard Grossman, professor and chair of economics, sets the record straight following U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s recent suggestion that states could declare bankruptcy to give them a fresh start. “Most states have laws or clauses in their own constitutions mandating that the states balance their budgets,” he explains. “Even if Congress changed the law to allow states to do so, there is a constitutional issue—the contracts clause—which may prevent states from declaring bankruptcy and would have to be adjudicated by the courts.”

5. Medium: “COVID-19: Knowing What NOT to Do Can Save Us”

Associate Professor of Psychology Steve Stemler writes about his research with co-author Varun Aggarwal, which “has shown decisively across several different populations, on different continents, and in completely different fields of study that knowing what NOT to do, and then avoiding that, is actually more predictive of successful outcomes than knowing the best way to handle a given situation.” They write: “These findings can provide us with some solace and a silver lining in the midst of this terrible pandemic. In spite of the fact that many uncertainties remain about the specifics of COVID-19, experience with past viruses that operate in a similar manner provide us with some guidelines about what not to do that can be life-saving.”

6. Greenfield Recorder: “We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For”

In this op-ed, Levi Baruch ’21 writes that returning to his rural hometown amid the coronavirus pandemic has made clear to him that during this turbulent time, “small towns are the best places to live in and learn from. To navigate towards functional societies, the systems of awareness and involvement intrinsic to small communities must be implemented on a greater scale.”

Alumni in the News

1. Politico: “If We Beat Covid and He Wins Reelection, So Be It”

Congressman Max Rose ’08 and Army veteran recently deployed to the front lines of the pandemic in New York City. In this article, he was interviewed about his experience with the National Guard on Staten Island and the surrounding areas, as well as his thoughts on the actions of the federal government. He said, “The deeper point that I was always trying to make is that government is not something that we can ignore, that we can sideline. It is something that is vital. Because it saves lives, it does things that no one else can do, and it is what we turn to in moment of crises such as now.”

2. Page Six: “‘Good Morning America’ Producer Thea Trachtenberg Dies”

Thea Trachtenberg ’90 was memorialized in this piece for Page Six. Trachtenberg was a producer of the show for 20 years, and a cancer survivor twice over. She was remembered for her work on the show. ABC’s Charlie Gibson said at a celebration for Trachtenberg’s “GMA” anniversary a few months ago: “Thea is part of the bedrock of ‘GMA.’ She, I am sure, will tell you she has been fortunate to work at a place like ‘Good Morning America.’ But the program has been just as fortunate, if not more so, to have her.”

3. The Gazette: “A Surprising Grateful Dead Connection to the Colorado Springs Area”

This article discusses how Grateful Dead members John Perry Barlow ’69 and Bob Weir met at the elite Fountain Valley School in Colorado. They later teamed up with future bandmates in San Francisco.