Campus Issues FAQ
Below you will find answers to questions of recent interest to students, faculty and staff. As more questions of general interest arise, they can be added to the list in multiple ways. You can submit your question directly to email@example.com. We will also add questions as they arise in conversations with the WSA and other student groups or in events such as the State of the School discussion.
FAQ About Issues and Policies at Wesleyan
- Are students represented on the Board of Trustees?
Yes, there are eight student representatives to the Board of Trustees. Six student representatives serve on Board committees with voice and vote, and the president and vice president of the WSA attend committee meetings and have voice. All eight student representatives attend full Board meetings with voice but no voting privileges, similar to faculty representation. Among many peer institutions, Wesleyan is highly unusual regarding student participation on the Board. Most peer institutions, ranging from Ivy League to small liberal arts, do not permit student representation at all, or allow it only in select Board committees. At Wesleyan, students have a strong voice and speak up routinely in Board meetings. Trustees actively seek out their opinions on many issues.
- What does it mean for Wesleyan to be a sanctuary campus?
President Roth’s announcement explained sanctuary status as follows:
Across the country, many are calling for their universities to become sanctuary campuses. The model is the “sanctuary city,” like Austin, New York City, Chicago and dozens of other municipalities, which have declared their intention not to cooperate with federal officials seeking to deport residents simply because they lack appropriate immigration documentation.
Having spoken with students, faculty and staff over the last week, and having conferred with the Board of Trustees, I think it very important to declare that Wesleyan University is a sanctuary campus. For us, this means the following:
- Wesleyan will remain committed to the principles of non-discrimination, including equal protection under the law, regardless of national origin or citizenship.
- Wesleyan will not voluntarily assist in any efforts by the federal government to deport our students, faculty or staff solely because of their citizenship status.
As we say in our webpages, we will continue to “welcome all undergraduate applicants regardless of citizenship status. Undocumented students, with or without Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), who apply to Wesleyan will continue to be treated identically to any other U.S. citizen or permanent resident in their high school.”
Through our alumni networks, we are also putting together legal resources for members of the Wesleyan community with questions concerning their immigration status. We will facilitate connections to these resources and other support services, as we work with appropriate offices and constituency groups on campus.
These are small steps, to be sure, in the face of a very frightening wave of threats to roll back the civil rights gains made in recent decades. But we will stand up and take these steps; we will do our best to protect our community, and we will gather resources to enable all its members, regardless of citizenship status, to continue to have opportunities to thrive here.
- What is Wesleyan doing to help low-income students?
Wesleyan has a number of programs to enhance the living and learning experience of low-come students—from an emergency fund in Student Affairs to the Connections Mentoring Program to priority for work/study jobs. The staff of Student Affairs and the Office for Equity & Inclusion are attuned to the barriers and challenges faced by low-income students and stand ready to listen and to help. With respect to finances, Wesleyan’s policy is to meet 100% of the demonstrated financial need of admitted students. The University instituted a no-loan/reduced-loan policy whereby most families earning less than $60,000 are offered financial aid grants without loans; most families that are federal Pell-eligible and earn more than $60,000 are offered grants and reduced loans. Recognizing that some aspects of financial aid packages, such as expected family contributions, can be burdensome for some students and lead them to acquire additional private loans, we are working on plans to ease these economic burdens. Lastly, we reduced summer earnings expectations for all incoming students starting with fall 2015 class and reduced them even more for low income students.
- Is Wesleyan planning to return to a need-blind financial aid policy?
No. Maintaining the “need-blind” label would have meant increasing the debt burdens of our students. Today we spend more on financial aid that we ever did when we were “need-blind,” and our students now have less debt. Supporting access is our #1 fundraising priority. In the recently concluded THIS IS WHY campaign, Wesleyan raised $274.7 million for access, which included 152 new endowed scholarships. By continuing to raise money for financial aid, we plan to reduce the number of students who are admitted on a “need-aware” basis (currently slightly more than 10% of applications are evaluated under need-aware).
- What is the administration’s response to criticism over its handling of sexual assault and Title IX cases?
We are meeting with students and bringing in a consultant to review all our procedures and help us decide if we should use outside personnel to handle accusations of sexual misconduct involving students. In the meantime, staff members are working hard to make sure that the procedures we have are put to best possible use in meeting the needs of our students.
- How is the administration communicating about Title IX issues?
We are reaching out to student representatives in a series of meetings throughout the rest of the semester and beyond to enhance communication and transparency regarding this issue. We invite other ideas, and President Roth will be glad to schedule meetings with students to discuss this matter.
- Is the administration implementing recommendations of the President’s Equity Task Force?
Yes. The administration has put in place a new Opportunity Hires policy to facilitate the diversification of faculty and staff, and it has identified possible locations for the new Resource Center as well as allocating resources for a dedicated staff person. The Center is an outgrowth of the #IsThisWhy student movement in the fall of 2015 and the three-year-long effort of the student-run Gender Resource Center working group. Last spring, a group of staff, faculty, and students – the Equity Task Force – named the Resource Center one of the chief priorities to address the systemic inequalities at Wesleyan. Alongside the ETF, a group of students worked to more fully imagine the center. The Equity and Inclusion Steering Committee formed in fall 2016 to synthesize past input and feedback, solicit deeper and broader input, and create a draft proposal for the Center by January 2017. The Center is scheduled to open in the fall of 2017.
- How does the Wesleyan administration respond to student concerns?
Members of the administration are always willing to schedule time with students to talk about issues of concern. President Roth, for instance, holds drop-in hours late in the afternoon most Mondays open to any student. He holds lunch meetings with student groups, meets with the WSA before and after meetings of the Board of Trustees, and meets periodically with Argus editors. He has met with students in town-hall style events and will continue to do so when appropriate occasions arise. Other senior administrators meet frequently with students to discuss a wide variety of topics. Students have opportunities for direct interaction with Wesleyan Trustees (as well as senior administrators) through service on Board committees, and Trustees actively seek student views in other forums. Listening carefully to different student groups and thinking hard about the issues raised does not, of course, always mean agreement on the action to be taken.
- Has student input led to new initiatives?
Often. Recent examples include:
- The Resource Center
- A new pre-orientation program for first-generation students
- Socially responsive investment policy
- The “maker space” workshop in Hewitt
- Additional resources for CAPS
- Tutoring resources for students
- Support for communications with multi-lingual families
- Emergency fund for unexpected costs encountered by low-income students
- Ability of students to file a preferred name via their portfolio—for those who use a name different than their legal name
- Has the administration responded to student concerns regarding the AFAM program?
This fall the African American Studies Program hired two new faculty members whose primary appointments are in AFAM: Kali Nicole Gross, professor of African American studies, and Khalil Anthony Johnson Jr., assistant professor of African American studies. Kali Gross, who shares a faculty appointment with the Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, is an expert on black women’s historical experiences in the United States criminal justice system. Khalil Johnson specializes in the intertwined histories of the African diaspora and Indigenous people in North America, with emphases on U.S. settler colonialism, education, and counter-hegemonic social movements.
- How has the recent closure of fraternities affected social spaces on campus?
There are numerous spaces that can be booked for social events, including Usdan, other academic and arts spaces, residential spaces and program houses. Usdan, the WestCo Café, and several of the program houses—Alpha Delt, Psi U, Malcolm X, Music (formerly, Eclectic)—are perhaps the most heavily used spaces. The WSA covers much of the costs to student groups for booking various spaces. The SALD Office maintains a helpful website with resources for students planning events. Additionally, the administration will help to subsidy costs for student events held in Beckham Hall.
Suggestions for use of space on campus are always welcome. Building code and fire code restrictions do place some limitation on use of wood frame houses for social events. It’s important to remember that these code restrictions are in place to assure student safety.
- What is Wesleyan’s position regarding divestment from fossil fuels?
Our current position is not to divest. While there might be symbolic value in divesting from energy companies, that “high ground” would be undercut by the simple fact that the University relies on power from these companies every day. Nor would selling shares of an energy company to another institution or individual have a meaningful impact on climate change. Changing the nation’s demand for non-renewable energy would have such an impact. Taxing carbon use and pricing oil and gas in such a way as to account for externalities would have such an impact. The University is committed to reducing energy use and supporting teaching and research on environmental issues. For more, see our Sustainability Action Plan. The University has no investments in coal and no plans to make any—given the convincing presentation by the Committee on Investor Responsibility to the Investment Committee managing the endowment.
- What about divestment from prisons?
Wesleyan has no investments related to private prison companies and will not acquire any.
- Is there student input into socially responsible investing?
The student-run Committee for Investor Responsibility periodically meets with the Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees, and more information about the activities of the CIR is available on its website.
- What is Michael Roth’s compensation and how is it determined?
The Board of Trustees sets President Roth’s compensation based on a multi-year contract, and the Board reviews it annually in relation to market conditions and compensation of chief executives of peer institutions. His compensation is publicly available in the University’s federal 990 filing. For calendar year 2014, the most recent one available, his salary was $531,000, and he received an additional $363,000 in benefits.
- What is Wesleyan’s policy regarding undocumented students?
In May of 2016 we announced that we will begin considering undocumented and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status applicants who have graduated from a U.S. high school as if they were U.S. citizens or permanent residents, beginning with the class entering in fall 2017. This policy change has important implications for admission and financial aid for these prospective students. DACA/undocumented students will be reviewed and admitted in the pool of domestic applicants, and should follow the same admission and financial aid application procedures as other applicants. No additional or special application will be necessary for either first-year or transfer students.
- What is Wesleyan’s policy regarding NAGPRA and repatriation of Native American human remains?
Our policy states that Wesleyan is “committed to the repatriation of Native American human remains, associated funerary objects, unassociated funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony, as required by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). Wesleyan is also committed to the international repatriation of ancestral remains and cultural items in recognition of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” The full policy statement is available here.