Timeline of Recent Events by Zach Goldstein '05
It is impossible to fully understand what has gone on at Wesleyan over the past few weeks without understanding the long history of struggle at Wesleyan. What we are fighting at Wesleyan is simply a microcosm of oppressive systems pervasive throughout the world. While we cannot provide an adequate history of these problems in this packet, we would still like to acknowledge the rich history of struggle and the work people have done in the past to confront these systems both in our own institution and throughout our global society. What we are doing now is intimately connected to Wesleyan’s history of anti-apartheid struggles in decades past, the establishment of 200 Church Street as a multicultural safe space for first year students, the anti-hate crime work that is doomed to be repeated year after year, and many other victories and struggles throughout our collective history. We are acting locally against global hegemony. President Bennet would prefer to ship us off to the University’s housing projects in Nicaragua so we can further the colonial agenda of him and his colleagues under the guise of activism, but we find the most pressing struggles to be those of our own lives.
Monday, December 6, 2004
12:00 noon (Davenport Campus Center) 4:00 pm (North College, Financial Aid Office) 9:45 pm (outside of Crowell Concert Hall)
After the loss of the Latino Awareness Month Keynote Speake, Guillermo Gomez Peqa, members of Ajza Campos and the student of color community organize an S.O.C. Keynote Speak-Out. The Speak-Out, taking place over 3 separate times and locations, allows marginalized students to voice their grievances with/to other members of the student body, faculty/administration, and the Center for the Arts, in particular. Many important issues are discussed, including lack of funding and support for awareness/identity months; the small number of faculty of color; racial discrimination in ResLife; tokenization; lack of Ethnic and Latino Studies departments; an apathetic Financial Aid department; the fear of students of color losing safe spaces like AAA House, La Casa de Albizu Campos and Malcolm X House; boarders at 200 Church Street; the false advertising of "Diversity University" by the Admissions Office and the decreasing number of admitted students of color.
Tuesday, December 7, 2004 Over 150 students go to President Bennet’s office hours and read a document (see below) outlining the ways in which they feel silenced by administrative action. The students wear duct tape over their mouths to symbolize their silence. When Bennet refuses to address student concerns in his office hours, the group follows him to South College, increasing their numbers to 250 along the way. They occupy the building while Bennet locks himself in his office, hoping they dissipate on their own. After hiding in his office for two hours, Bennet tries to leave the building only to be caught in the stairwell between large masses of students that refuse to let him pass. The students negotiate the text of an all-campus email announcing both a forum to be held in Crowell Concert Hall at 4 PM the following day, and that a letter will be sent to Wesleyan alumni on the one condition that both students and administrators can agree on the text.
Wednesday, December 8, 2004
400 students fill Crowell Concert Hall to capacity by 4:15. Another 400 students rally outside. Some students choose to go to the CFA Cinema to watch a video feed provided by Information and Technology Services (ITS). At the end of the forum, President Bennet agrees both to write a proposal outlining how he is going to address the student concerns to be completed by January 19, 2005 and to hold a second forum to discuss the proposal shortly thereafter.
Thursday, December 9, 2004
University Spokesman Justin Harmon denies student access to the footage of the forum shot by ITS.
Friday, December 10, 2004
Bennet reneges on his promise to send a joint letter to alumni, instead posting his own message on the alumni website. Harmon again denies student access to the ITS video footage. The Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) issues a statement saying that it refuses to be the exclusive student voice in organizing the second forum with the administration.