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Shasha Seminar Explores the Role of Guns in America

The 16th Annual Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns, held Oct. 27–28 on campus, convened experts, including Wesleyan alumni, from across the country to examine current debates about the role of guns in American history, society, law and politics. The Shasha Seminar is an educational forum for Wesleyan alumni, parents and friends that provides an opportunity to explore issues of global concern in a small seminar environment. Endowed by James Shasha ’50, P’82, the Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns supports lifelong learning and encourages participants to expand their knowledge and perspectives on significant issues.

Seminar organizer Jennifer Tucker, associate professor of history and associate professor of science in society at Wesleyan, noted in a previous article that “Firearms possession is possibly one of the most divisive topics in the country.” Her goal was for the event to “create a forum for conversations about current gun ownership and laws with room for a variety of perspectives on this topic. We want for this university seminar to be a forum for discussions and a meeting point for current research about firearms possession and use from a number of different fields,” she said.

The 16th Annual Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns, held Oct. 27-28 on campus, convened experts, including Wesleyan alumni, from different fields across the country to examine current debates about the role of guns in American history, society, law and politics. The Shasha Seminar is an educational forum for Wesleyan alumni, parents, and friends that provides an opportunity to explore issues of global concern in a small seminar environment. Endowed by James Shasha '50, P'82, the Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns supports lifelong learning and encourages participants to expand their knowledge and perspectives on significant issues.

Beginning in Memorial Chapel on Friday afternoon with a keynote speech by Richard Slotkin, Olin Professor of English and American Studies, Emeritus (see photo below), the weekend proved to be a venue for education, questions and much discussion on concerns surrounding guns in American society.

Richard Slotkin, the Olin Professor of American Studies, Emeritus, delivered the keynote address titled “Open Season: The Gun Rights Movement and American Political Culture.” Slotkin discussed the current struggle over firearms legislation and how it has been shaped by a political movement, which links a radical understanding of “gun rights” to the agendas of American conservatism.

Richard Slotkin, the Olin Professor of English and American Studies, Emeritus, delivered the keynote address titled “Open Season: The Gun Rights Movement and American Political Culture.” Slotkin discussed the current struggle over firearms legislation and how it has been shaped by a political movement, which links a radical understanding of “gun rights” to the agendas of American conservatism.

Davis ’17 Pens Debut Novel, “Everything Must Go”

Jenny Fran Davis ’17

Jenny Fran Davis ’17 recently published her first novel, Everything Must Go, with St. Martin’s Press. 
(Photo by Taina Quiñones)

Since graduating just last May, Jenny Fran Davis ’17 has become a published author with the fall release of her debut novel, Everything Must Go. The story revolves around Flora Goldwasser, a teenager from New York City who has just transferred to a rural, Quaker boarding school in her junior year. Through a collection of journal entries, e-mails and other archived materials, Flora pieces together her experience and lets readers into her tumultuous period of adjustment.

Davis wrote the book in her freshman year of college and spent the next few years editing, before landing a contract for two novels with St. Martin’s Press in 2016. In this Q&A, Davis discusses how it feels to be a published author, in what ways her time at Wesleyan has impacted her writing and what readers can expect from her next book.

Yohe Examines Impact of the Newly Released Climate Science Report

Gary Yohe

Gary Yohe, the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies, writes in The Conversation about the recently published Climate Science Special Report. While he, like many others, had feared that the Trump White House would reject the report, instead, he writes, “last week’s release was like trick-or-treating on Halloween and coming to a house with a bowl of candy at the door but no one home.”

She Makes Comics: Award-Winning Film by Stotter ’13, Meaney ’07 Available on Netflix

When Patrick Meaney ’07 and Marisa Stotter ’13 wanted a logo for their award-winning documentary, She Makes Comics, they commissioned artist Courtney Wirth. “We wanted something that evoked Rosie the Riveter, which we loved and thought it would be both recognizable and resonate with our audience,” says Stotter. ”I have original hanging on my wall, and whenever I see that strong, confident pose it’s a wonderful boost, a surge of energy to my heart.”

She Makes Comics, a documentary directed by Marisa Stotter ’13, and produced by Patrick Meaney ’07 and Stotter, won Best Documentary at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con International Film Festival, and was released on Netflix on Oct. 15.  Also available on iTunes and Amazon Prime, the film tells the story of the women—artists, writers, executives, as well as ardent fans—in the comic book industry. The documentary has played at film festivals around the world since its release in December 2014.

Both a thoroughly researched history—featuring luminaries such as Karen Green, the comic librarian at Columbia University, as well as women who wrote and drew comics in the 1950s and ’60s—and a lively story for a general-audience, She Makes Comics is a collaboration between two Wesleyan alumni, one a film major and one an English major—whose years as undergraduates had no overlap.

Student-Athletes Raise Awareness, Funds for Men’s Health in Movember

The Men's Crew Team showing off their mustaches-in-progress to raise awareness for men's health issues in support of the Movember Foundation.

The Men’s Crew Team showing off their mustaches-in-progress to raise awareness for men’s health issues in support of the Movember Foundation.

This month, Wesleyan students, many affiliated with athletic teams, are raising awareness and raising funds for men’s health through the Movember Foundation. According to its website, the Foundation is the only charity tackling men’s health on a global level, with a focus on addressing prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention. It has funded over 1,200 men’s health projects in 21 countries.

Wesleyan has had an official Campus Representative with the Foundation for the past four years. This year Luke Forsthoefel ’20, a member of Men’s Crew team, is the Campus Representative for all of Wesleyan.

“The issue of men’s health is especially important to me because I think in a lot of ways there are societal norms and expectations put on men that can make it difficult for those who need help to get it,” he said. “There is a certain stigma around men asking for help and support when they need it, which is why I think it is so important to get people of all genders involved in helping men break this stigma.”

Belichick Plaza Dedicated in Recognition of the Leadership, Generosity of Bill ’75, P’07, Hon. ’05 and Amanda Belichick ’07

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick ’75, P’07, Hon. ’05 and his daughter, Amanda Belichick ’07, visited campus during Homecoming/Family Weekend on Nov. 3. After greeting and speaking to members of the Wesleyan football team, the Belichicks attended a reception at the Belichick Plaza (formerly Warren Street lobby), dedicated in recognition of the leadership and generosity of Bill and Amanda Belichick. (Photos and information by Olivia Drake, Cynthia Rockwell and Tom Dzimian)

Bill and Amanda Belichick joined Whalen, Morea and Wesleyan President Michael Roth in a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially acknowledge the inside the newly-named Belichick Plaza

Bill and Amanda Belichick, center, joined Mike Whalen, the Frank V. Sica Director of Athletics; Board of Trustees Chair Donna Morea ’76, P’06 and Wesleyan President Michael Roth in a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially acknowledge the newly-named Belichick Plaza. “The great thing about this school and what this building stands for is that at Wesleyan, we have student athletes here. You don’t have to choose between being a student or being an athlete; you can be both,” Bill Belichick said during the Belichick Plaza dedication. “That’s what I was looking for in college, and that’s what Amanda was looking for — to participate in intercollegiate athletics and also be challenged at a high level academically. Here, you really can do both.”

Government Faculty, Recent Alumni, Co-Author Articles

Two Government Department faculty recently co-authored scholarly articles with recent Wesleyan undergraduates.

Chloe Rinehart ’14 and James McGuire, chair and professor of government, are the co-authors of “Obstacles to Takeup: Ecuador’s Conditional Cash Transfer Program, the Bono de Desarrollo Humano,” published in World Development in September 2017.

Rinehart and McGuire examined factors that keep impoverished people from benefiting from the social assistance programs for which they are legally eligible. Taking the case of Ecuador’s Bono de Desarrollo Humano (BDH), a U.S. $50 monthly cash transfer to families in the poorest 40 percent of the income distribution, they used field research in Ecuador to identify potential obstacles to program takeup, and Ecuador’s 2013-14 Living Standards Measurement Survey to explore which of these potential obstacles were critical deterrents. The quantitative analysis of these survey data showed that compliance costs, like travel to enrollment and payment sites, and psychological costs, including stigma and distrust of government, each had a significant deterrent effect on BDH takeup. 

Preschoolers Trick-or-Treat on Campus

On Oct. 31, Wesleyan’s Neighborhood Preschool participated in the annual NPS Halloween Parade. The children, accompanied by their families and care-takers, stopped at Exley Science Center, Olin Library, South College and North College to trick-or-treat, sing songs and show off their costumes. Many trick-or-treaters are the children of Wesleyan faculty and staff. Wesleyan President Michael Roth and several staff from University Communications offered candy to the parade participants. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

C-CERT Explores Closed Butterfield Basement and Former Tunnel System

Jeff Sweet, associate director of facilities management, leads C-CERT members through Butterfield C's unique "tunnel" system as part of a training exercise. In the 1990’s, the tunnel system was closed and secured due to health and safety concerns.

Jeff Sweet, associate director of facilities management, leads C-CERT members through Butterfield C’s unique underground “tunnel” system as part of a training exercise to learn more about unknown areas of campus. In the 1990s, the basement level was closed and secured due to health and safety concerns.

On Oct. 17, Wesleyan’s Campus Community Emergency Response Team (C-CERT) toured the basement level, or “tunnels” of the Butterfield complex. Built in 1965, the Butterfields encompassed 166,000 gross square feet in three separate dormitory buildings — A, B and C — which are connected by vibrant, graffiti-rich underground tunnels.

Through the years, the tunnels served as passageways to student residences, classrooms, administration offices, recreational areas, restrooms, laundry rooms, study areas, kitchenettes, mechanical areas, a mailroom, photographic darkrooms and even a kosher kitchen. Skateboarders marked the ground with safe paths, noting where to stop at blind corners. Artists, poets and writers used the tunnels’ walls as a concrete canvas for cartoons, prose, quotations, journals and messages.

Zeitlin ’04, Janvey ’06, Quinn ’05 Produce Brimstone and Glory Documentary

The documentary Brimstone and Glory, captures a sense of both danger and exultation in the weeklong festival in Tultepec, Mexico, where pyrotechnics are the major industry. The film is produced by film studies alumni Benh Zeitlin ’04, Dan Janvey ’06, Kellen Quinn ’05 and others.

Brimstone and Glory is the feature-length documentary produced by Benh Zeitlin ’04, Dan Janvey ’06, Kellen Quinn ’05 and others, on the annual festival in Tultepec, Mexico, where pyrotechnics are the major industry. The weeklong celebration honors San Juan de Dios, patron saint of firework makers, and celebrates the artisans who dedicate themselves to pyrotechnics. Directed by Viktor Jakovleski, and edited by Affonso Gonçalves, the film is scored by Benh Zeitlin and Dan Romer, the two who collaborated on the Beasts of the Southern Wild score.

Dubbed “Best Documentary Feature” at the San Francisco Film Festival, Brimstone and Glory opens in theaters this fall. In preparation, Quinn spoke about this collaboration in this Q&A:

Q: What was the genesis of this project?
A: Viktor, the director, was shown some photographs of the festival by an artist who had recently been there. He was amazed but completely baffled by the images of people “raving in the fire”, as he puts it. Sometime later, during a Berlin techno party, the crowds and sensory experience reminded him of one of the images. He recognized a connection between the collective effervescence of the techno scene that is a big part of his life and the ritualistic elements of what he had seen in those pictures of Tultepec. His initial idea was a short film, but after doing an exploratory first shoot, it became clear that there was something bigger and more ambitious to be made. Ultimately, the film shot over three consecutive festivals.

Q: And what brought you in?
A: In 2014 I was just beginning to move into producing and I was eager to work with friends. Dan Janvey told me about the project and it was immediately intriguing. Also, my mother grew up in Mexico and I spent a lot of time there as a child visiting my grandmother. I felt that working on a documentary in Mexico would offer a really meaningful way of reconnecting with the country.

Hallie Lecture Focuses on Ancient Greece and Beyond

On Oct. 25, the College of Letters welcomed Greek political philosophy expert Melissa Lane to campus to deliver the 24th annual Philip Hallie Lecture. Lane spoke on "Office and Accountability in Ancient Greece and Beyond." Lane is the Class of 1943 Professor of Politics at Princeton University, where she is also director of the University Center for Human Values, and an associated faculty member in the Departments of Classics and of Philosophy. Previously she taught in the Faculty of History at the University of Cambridge, after receiving there an M.Phil. and PhD in philosophy.

On Oct. 25, the College of Letters welcomed Greek political philosophy expert Melissa Lane to campus to deliver the 24th annual Philip Hallie Lecture. Lane spoke on “Office and Accountability in Ancient Greece and Beyond.” Lane is the Class of 1943 Professor of Politics at Princeton University, where she is also director of the University Center for Human Values, and an associated faculty member in the Departments of Classics and of Philosophy. Previously she taught in the Faculty of History at the University of Cambridge, after receiving there an M.Phil. and PhD in philosophy.