Tag Archive for activism
by Olivia Drake •
On July 6, when the U.S. government made a federal ruling that international students would be deported should their studies be held exclusively online, Bryan Chong ’21 took immediate action to fight back.
The Hong Kong native and visa holder had already spent six years in Connecticut, attending high school in Kent before enrolling at Wesleyan. If the COVID-19 pandemic moved Wesleyan to return to an all-online format again, the policy would have forced Chong to return to China for his senior year of college. But he wasn’t worried about himself as much as his international peers.
“I couldn’t imagine the mental toll this would have on international students who don’t necessarily have a secure home to go home to. There are many international students who see colleges and universities as a safe haven from their hometowns, or maybe from income insecurity, housing insecurity, and food insecurity,” Chong said.
After receiving blowback from universities and colleges across the country, on July 14 the government abruptly rescinded the proposal, easing the minds of the more than 400 international students at Wesleyan.
by Editorial Staff •
After George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed during his arrest on May 25 in Minneapolis, sparking nationwide demonstrations, members of Wesleyan’s administration and alumni are speaking out against racial injustice and offering resources for community members.
On May 30, Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 shared a Roth on Wesleyan post titled “Build an Anti-Racist Community in Which Hatred and Intolerance Have No Place.”
Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd. We speak their names with sorrow and with anger. In recent weeks, we confront once again the fact that in America some people so radically devalue African Americans that their lives can be just brutally destroyed. The precarity of black lives has a very long history in this country, but now technology makes it possible for people everywhere to witness violent injustice. We witness, and we are disgusted; we witness, and we are enraged; we witness, and we mourn. Black Lives Matter.
As a historically white institution, Wesleyan has struggled with our own history of racism. Over the last several decades, thanks to the work of activist students, faculty, staff and alumni, we have become more aware of the ways in which the ideology of white supremacy has affected this history and our own present. We try to build a different kind of community – one in which racism, hate and intolerance have no place. This is an ongoing project, and we re-dedicate ourselves to it.
by Lauren Rubenstein •
The first cohort of students participating in the Wesleyan Engage 2020 (E2020) initiative dedicated their winter breaks to working for voter registration and issues advocacy groups, as well as for a range of candidates for presidential, congressional, and local offices.
The 16 students participating over winter break were stationed in states as far-flung as Georgia and Alaska, New York and Arizona. Wesleyan awarded over $20,000 to assist with participants’ living and travel expenses while they conducted this work.
Many students chose to work with organizations advocating for particular issues, including criminal justice reform, housing justice, reproductive rights, and immigration.
Others focused their efforts on voter engagement and registration. Perri Easley ’23 spoke at her former high school, Morristown-Beard School in Morristown, N.J., and at the Morris County Chapter of Jack and Jill of America to educate young people about important issues around the 2020 elections, including the US Census, the Electoral College, gerrymandering, and voter suppression. Voter registration drives were held at both events for high school students who are of eligible age to register to vote.
by Olivia Drake •
On Sept. 20, members of the Wesleyan community—including students, faculty, staff, and Middletown community leaders—joined millions of young people around the world by participating in the Global Climate Strike. Taking place in more than 150 countries, the Global Climate Strike (held Sept. 20-27) amplifies a chorus of concern about the catastrophic dangers of climate change.
The on-campus strike included speeches by students, faculty, and a community member, and concluded with a march around campus. Boldly displaying handcrafted signs, students paraded around campus chanting, “No coal, no oil, keep the carbon in the soil,” and “Hey, hey, ho, ho, fossil fuels have got to go.”
The strike concluded with a march around campus and candlelight vigil. The event kicked off a week’s worth of activities centered around the threat of climate change.
by Lauren Rubenstein •
Numerous Wesleyan faculty and students in the sciences attended the March for Science in different parts of the state and country on Earth Day, April 22.
Laura Grabel, the Lauren B. Dachs Professor of Science and Society, professor of biology, professor of environmental studies, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, spoke at the New Haven march.
“I decided to march because science is being seriously threatened by the Trump administration,” she explained. “Trump has not filled almost all of the science positions, has no science advisor, and is using little evidence-based thinking in his decision making. Some of his appointments are puzzling and scary. From my perspective as a stem cell scientist, appointing Tom Price, who has consistently opposed embryonic stem cell research, as head of Health and Human Services presents a real danger to the future of this work just as therapies are entering clinical trials.”
by Olivia Drake •
The Allbritton Center, Wesleyan’s hub of civic engagement, is maintaining a calendar of campus and community events related to the recent presidential election and its aftermath.
“In the wake of the historic 2016 presidential election, we believe that civic engagement — in its many forms — is more important than ever,” said Civic Engagement Fellow Rebecca Jacobsen ’16.
“We are committed to transparency, open discourse, and the safety and well-being of all our community members,” Jacobsen said.
Upcoming events include: Jummah on the Green (a prayer service and solidarity event) on Nov. 18 on Andrus Field; A Leftist Response to Trump Teach-In on Nov. 20 in Woodhead Lounge; United Against Hate – March of Resilience on Nov. 21 in Hartford; and an open town hall about campus organizing on Nov. 21 in Daniel Family Commons. View all events online here.
by Olivia Drake •
As a sign of our solidarity and commitment to address bias and inequity on campus and in the community, Wesleyan students, faculty and staff gathered at Usdan’s Huss Courtyard Sept. 27 for a moment of silence.
“As we continue to witness acts of violence around our country – especially toward black and brown and other marginalized persons – we are filled with many strong emotions based upon our own identities and experiences,” said Dean Mike Whaley, vice president for student affairs.
After a moment of silence and reflection, staff from Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life met with groups and individuals wanting to talk about recent events.
“Beyond this visible sign of solidarity, we commit to continue our personal and institutional work toward peace, justice, equity and inclusion,” Whaley said.
Photos of the moment of silence are below: (Photos by Olivia Drake)
by Laurie Kenney •
On April 9, more than 200 students gathered at Olin Library for a vigil to remember the 147 people—most of them students—killed in the massacre at Garissa University College in Kenya earlier this month. Speakers at the vigil included Arnelle Williams ’17, Giselle Torres ’16, Claudia Kahindi ’18, Geofrey Yatich ’17, Ismael Coleman ’15, Nyanen Deng ’17, Alexandria Williams ’15, and Irvine Peck’s-Agaya ’18.
by Olivia Drake •
On Dec. 8, approximately 1,000 students, faculty and staff participated in a Black Lives Matter March. The participants marched as a show of solidarity with national protests against discriminatory treatment of blacks in the criminal justice system and incidents of police brutality.
The group started at Exley Science Center, marched across campus and proceeded down Washington Street to the intersection at Main Street in Middletown. They chanted “black lives matter,” “hands up, don’t shoot,” and “we can’t breathe.”
In The Hartford Courant, Abhi Janamanchi ’17 said he he hoped the event would serve as a “dose of reality” about the racial issues many people face every day. “We like to think these issues don’t affect us when we’re in school,” he said in the article. “This isn’t a police state. For a lot of the students here it’s something we have to live with.”
In a Dec. 7 blog, Wesleyan President Michael Roth, who also participated in the march, wrote, “We are preparing for finals, writing exams [and] grading them. These are important things. But all around the country people are speaking out against the outrageous injustices that people of color face on a regular basis. We must acknowledge these issues. The time to speak out is now. At Wesleyan we affirm that we are an institution that values boldness, rigor and practical idealism. One doesn’t have to be an idealist to recognize that change is necessary, and that we must demand it.”
by Olivia Drake •
After wearing through four pairs of shoes and speaking to hundreds of people in 12 states about war solutions, Wesleyan student Ashley Casale ’10 returned briefly to campus after a 3,000-mile cross-country trek to promote world peace.
Casale walked from San Francisco, Calif. to Washington D.C. this summer to raise peace awareness and discuss ways to take action nonviolently. Her March for Peace concluded Sept. 10 in front of the White House.
“Overall, this was a great, eye-opening experience,” Casale said to peers, deans and President Michael Roth during campus visit Sept. 21. “This walk was about peace, and (we learned that) peace isn’t political.”
Casale crossed the country with her walking partner Michael Israel, a recent high school graduate from California. Together, they trekked 25 miles a day, carrying a wide “March 4 Peace SF to DC” banner or donning pro-peace attire. They made several stops along the route to chat with area residents about their cause.
Their messages included supporting nonviolent resistance to war efforts, ceasing crimes against humanity, ending nuclear weapon holding and proliferation, and promoting sustainability and global citizenship. They particularly marched for peace in Iraq, and to raise awareness of the genocide, rape, and torture in the Darfur region of Sudan, Africa.
Casale and Israel began the walk on May 21, carrying only three outfits, two journals, a first aid kit, water bottle, sunscreen, sleeping bag and a small tent apiece. They relied on acquaintances they met along the way to donate food, additional clothing, shelter and shoes. They also asked for monetary donations via their Web site, http://marchforpeace.com. Casale said hundreds of peace-supporters joined their march, some for hours, others for days.
Together, they crossed Americas deserts, prairies and mountainous regions, in the sun, rain storms and whipping winds, all in an attempt to make a visible impact. Casale and Israel made several media appearances, from radio and television interviews to being featured on the front page of the Chicago Tribune.
“We never wanted to draw attention to ourselves, just our cause,” Casale says.
Roth, who was living in California during the time of their departure, says he remembered seeing Casale on the 10 p.m. news.
“When I saw that there was a student from Wesleyan walking across the country for peace, I thought that was a very admirable thing,” Roth said during a recent meeting with Casale and Israel. “It’s wonderful you were able to bring attention to peace activism, and that you were so determined to get your message out there.”
The walkers recorded their experiences along the way in a journal, but the memories are still very fresh in their minds. They recall meeting a woman in Griswold, Iowa who lost her fiancé at the time to the Vietnam War, and a military mom in Peoria, Ill. whose son joined the Army and was deported to Iraq.
“It was always emotional for us to talk to military moms, because most of them have sons in Iraq who are our same age,” Casale said. “She said she told her son in Iraq about us, and he was awed that we had walked so far to end this war.”
Casale and Israel plan to write a book together this year based on their March for Peace. Class deans Marina Melendez and Michael Whaley invited them to speak at a deans colloquium, and Roth said he will encourage other students to express their views and be proactive.
Casale and Israel made dozens of stops in each state they passed through. Their route included California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia and finally Washington D.C. Their journey is documented in an online photo gallery at http://www.marchforpeace.info/reportbacks.html.
Casale, an undeclared environmental studies and music major, will resume her studies at Wesleyan in Spring 2008.