Chat Transcript

Topic: Diversity at Wes
Date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013

CODY Assistant Dean: Good Evening! This is Cody Uddenberg, Assistant Dean of Admissions at Wesleyan University.

Mo_WesStudent: Hello! My name is Maurice (Mo) and I am a current student (Senior) at Wes. I've been involved in many different groups on campus and I am currently involved in 2 affinity groups on campus. Feel free to ask me any questions about diversity at Wes/anything about Wes

Hanna Park: Hello! Nice to meet you. I'm Hanna

Lorin_2016: Hi! I'm Lorin. I'm a current Wes student as well (class of 2016) and can help answer any questions anyone has about anything as well

Nisha Grewal: Hi! I'm Nisha and I'm a freshmen at Wes :)

OwenZach: Hey! I'm Owen, currently a freshman here at Wes. Feel free to ask about whatever you want

HannahGreene: Hi nice to meet you all. My name is Hannah as well

CODY Assistant Dean: Welcome all!

Mo_WesStudent: Where are you from Hanna?

Hanna Park: I'm from New York.

CODY Assistant Dean: Which borough?

Hanna Park: I was wondering, how noticeable is diversity at Wesleyan on a day-to-day basis?

Hanna Park: Manhattan

Nisha Grewal: I came from a predominantly white high school, so for me it's probably more noticeable, but I love it.

Mo_WesStudent: On a day to day basis, I interact with students from other countries, other states, different racial backgrounds, different socio-economic backgrounds, etc. All of these groups create a classroom experience, from student perspectives of various backgrounds

OwenZach: I'm in the same boat as Nisha

OwenZach: But yeah, everyone comes from such a different background, it's really refreshing to see everyone's different interests and opinions and ways of doing things

CODY Assistant Dean: I'd like to add that Wes is a place where students "own themselves." You can be you and everyone around you is curious if you are willing to share your stories and beliefs

Hanna Park: Oh, that's great to hear!

Hanna Park: Also, in the dining hall/cafeteria, what kinds of groups tend to be seen eating together?

Hanna Park: If there are any that have common backgrounds/interests

Mo_WesStudent: To piggy back on what Cody said, one can be themselves and be comfortable with being themselves.

Nisha Grewal: Some sports teams sit together, but there aren’t the stereotypical cliques that are usually present in high school

OwenZach: At least when I go to Usdan/ Summerfields (the two dining halls on campus) I see groups of all kinds eating together. It's not nearly as cliquey as high school (my high school was very cliquey)

HannahGreene: How is diversity celebrated at Wesleyan?

Mo_WesStudent: Well we have different cultural showcases that happen throughout the school year. Each representing a world-culture

Mo_WesStudent: so for Black History month we have Jubilee

Lorin_2016: Wes does a really good job of having something for everyone, be it a club or some event throughout the year.

Mo_WesStudent: The East Asian student groups put on a show called mabuhay during WesFest

OwenZach: In addition, pride weeks/ months are celebrated throughout campus. This week is National Coming Out week for the LGBTQ+ community, so rainbows are starting to pop up all over campus

Lorin_2016: It's true. "Ally" rainbow stickers were being handed out in Usdan today during lunch

HannahGreene: That's so awesome!

Hanna Park: What happens at WesFest?

HannahGreene: How are first generation students supported through/in their transition to college life?

Mo_WesStudent: Wesfest is our admitted students weekend

Hanna Park: OH okay

Mo_WesStudent: It is a weekend full of events that are put on by students, with the admissions stamp of approval

OwenZach: It has performances (a capella concerts, etc) workshops/lectures for parents, and tons of stuff to go see and do

Mo_WesStudent: It takes MONTHS of planning, but everyone loves to 'show off' Wes. (I've planned it twice)

Lorin_2016: Also, all freshmen arrive on campus a week early for Orientation Week. It’s a crazy whirlwind of activity, but it really helps to introduce freshmen to campus life and college in general

CODY Assistant Dean: I'd also like to add that the president is currently implementing an initiative called Making Excellence Inclusive

Nisha Grewal: Thats true. Orientation was really helpful with the adjustment. I’m the first in my family to go away to college, so all the events helped me settle in and get used to living on my own

CODY Assistant Dean: This is an administrative commitment to keeping campus diverse and to providing supports along the way.

CODY Assistant Dean: As a first gen student, college is a little daunting. I was a first gen student but there are many resources on campus to help transition you to college.

Mo_WesStudent: For instance, we have peer tutors, faculty advisors, Resident Advisors, etc

Mo_WesStudent: there are loads of people on campus to help you with the transition, and you get to meet them during your week in orientation

Lorin_2016: Not only that, but the professors are so accessible and (in my experience) really want to get to know you and help you if you are having any trouble with anything at all

Nisha Grewal: There are so many people who you can talk to during orientation, but also during the year, and they all want to get to know you.  Last weekend my friends and I hung out with our RA!

CODY Assistant Dean: You also have your peers. Upperclassmen have fought the fight and know the ropes. A few conversations with peers and upperclassmen, and you will be well on your way to deciphering Wes and all it offers.

OwenZach: During orientation there are a bunch of times where you can meet all of the resources you could possibly want. So for instance, I went to the Queer Student Reception and was introduced to all of the LGBTQ+ resources on campus

Mo_WesStudent: Yes....we have fought the fight. lol

Jessica Saideman: How big is the LGBTQ+ presence on campus?

CODY Assistant Dean: I also went to that reception, and that particular organization hires an intern to be a student voice in a leadership capacity.

HannahGreene: Do many students receive pell grants?

OwenZach: I'd say the LGBTQ+ presence on campus is fairly large. The atmosphere is also very open and accepting so whether you're open about your sexuality/ sexual preferences/ gender identity or not you'll feel right at home

Hanna Park: Do you think that diversity of any kind has influenced Wesleyan's large artistic presence?

Mo_WesStudent: Not sure about the number of pell grants, but about 42% of the entering class has some form of financial aid

Mo_WesStudent: Diversity, in my opinion, always influences one's presence. Being able to build off of each other's viewpoints and experiences adds to any medium. I can't directly speak to the arts, but I'm sure it has.

CODY Assistant Dean: There is no typical Wesleyan Student. I guess a common theme on campus is passionate. Passionate about the arts, about history, about astronomy.

Lorin_2016: ...or math and chemistry!

Lorin_2016: (that's what I want to major in)

OwenZach: Everyone here is really passionate about something. Whether it's a class, a club, an activity, everyone LOVES doing something

CODY Assistant Dean: Students are really enjoying their courses and I think the social scene is one in which Wes students can appreciate art while at a concert with someone they've never crossed paths with before. 

Carly Williams: How easy do you think it is to get involved with something you've never done before (like theater, art, etc)?

Nisha Grewal: i joined the west african dance troupe, even though I’ve never done it before!

OwenZach: Very easy! I joined a fire spinning group (prometheus) after orientation and now I'm really involved in that. Group leaders make all of the clubs/ activities very easy to get involved with, whether or not you have any previous experience

Nisha Grewal: the officers are always very accepting and encouraging, so it’s easier to try something new

CODY Assistant Dean: It's definitely a collaborative environment where you can be a master at something or try it for the first time. A lot of students stumble upon activities because their friends rave about them.

Mo_WesStudent: We have a student group fair at the beginning of the school year so you can sign up there.

Carly Williams: That sounds really awesome. I like that all the students seem uninhibited! Thanks

Lorin_2016: Often people are so enthusiastic about their passions that they are more than willing to share them with you and teach you

Jessica Saideman: What do you think sets Wesleyan apart from other schools?

Nisha Grewal: People are very open and accepting. I went to high school in california and a lot of people were superficial and judgmental

OwenZach: I'd say the diversity (of all kinds) and the passion that everyone here has for something. The open and accepting atmosphere is also really really great

Lorin_2016: Just from a science person's perspective (sorry if that doesn’t allign with your interests), for me it's the fact that Wes is in fact a University. We have a small population of grad students, who (along with professors) perform research. The fact that so much research is happening on campus makes getting an undergraduate research position that much easier. I know a number of people that were working in labs on research their freshman year, which you definitely wouldn't see at a typical larger university

Nisha Grewal: Students have a lot of options to personalize their education. I am taking classes in multiple subjects, but i got to choose them all!

Lorin_2016: Having said all that, what truly drew me to Wes was its accepting and open atmosphere that made me feel welcome even when I was just on my tour

Nisha Grewal: I totally agree with Lorin!

CODY Assistant Dean: With the open curriculum there is never "that course you had to take to graduate"

CODY Assistant Dean: No one sets themselves up for courses that don't excite them in some way.

Lorin_2016: Which is a really exciting thing, because everyone in your classes truly wants to be there

CODY Assistant Dean: Exactly!

Lorin_2016: They selected that class out of the countless others offered because it interested them. It leads to lively debates during class, but I wouldn't have it any other way

CODY Assistant Dean: I went to a freshmen orientation event departmental open house and the professors were quite literally cheering on the Environmental sciences courses.

OwenZach: This is all super true. I have some amazing discussions in my classes because everyone WANTS to be there, no one was forced to take any classes

Carly Williams: Do you find then that classes are normally taken by people across multiple majors?

CODY Assistant Dean: A lot of students are double majoring in non-traditional ways

CODY Assistant Dean: So maybe Dance double with neuroscience

Lorin_2016: Definitely. I’m a math and chem major taking a literature class with English majors at the moment.

OwenZach: Yeah, classes usually count towards a few different majors, so you can get enough credits to double major much easier

CODY Assistant Dean: A Senior interviewer in the admissions office who is a Film major does astronomy research and searches for undiscovered planets.

CODY Assistant Dean: I do not think he had any clue he would just fall in love with Astronomy, and want to research something completely left field.

Lorin_2016: It's also not unusual for someone to come into Wes thinking that they are going to major in something, only to be exposed to a completely new subject (while taking random classes of interest) and end up deciding to major in it

Lorin_2016: Does anyone have any other questions? Maybe not related to diversity? We can answer questions about all aspects of life at Wes

HannahGreene: Why did you guys choose Wesleyan? Was it one particular factor?

OwenZach: The accepting feel I got from going on the tour, the quintessential small liberal arts college campus, the open curriculum, and seeing the kind of people here and knowing I'd want to be around them

Lorin_2016: For me, it was a variety of factors. (I mentioned some of them above.) I knew that I wanted a small liberal arts college on the East Coast (I'm from Washington State), but Wes stuck out to me for its strength in academia, its accepting and passionate community. But mainly, everyone that I spoke to while on my tour and otherwise was friendly and someone that I could see myself being friends with. Simply put, it was just a place that I could picture myself living for 4 years and enjoying greatly. And let me tell you, it's awesome :)

Carly Williams: Just wondering--what has been the most influential class each of you have taken thus far?

OwenZach: Film and the Movies: The Past on Film

OwenZach: It’s a philosophy/ psychology/ film class taught by President Roth and it's really just interesting and I think he's a great professor

Hanna Park: On a less academic note, during the application process, did anyone like Wesleyan even more due to the kind of pop culture that surrounds the university? (MGMT, Santigold, HIMYM)

Carly Williams: Das Racist! :)

Lorin_2016: Honestly, I didn't even notice the pop culture that surrounds it until after I had been accepted. But then I began noticing them everywhere

Hanna Park: Haha

Lorin_2016: Do you guys have any topics or anything else that you'd like us to maybe talk about? There truly aren't any stupid questions

Hanna Park: What is your favorite class?

Tian Richards: Hello!

OwenZach: Calculus (I'm a math nerd)

Lorin_2016: My favorite class that I've ever taken at Wes was Paleoanthropology. We learned about human evolution and got to do labs in which we examined skeletons. It was fascinating.

Lorin_2016: Although, I'm dying to get into the Harry Potter literature class...

Lorin_2016: And hello Tian!

Tian Richards: That sounds like an awesome class

Tian Richards: May I ask something about campus life and dorming?

Lorin_2016: Of course!

Tian Richards: Awesome, what is the bathroom situation exactly? Because when I visited I heard something about co-ed bathrooms and I was a little confused

Lorin_2016: As far as bedrooms go, freshman dorms range from singles to doubles and two-room doubles. As you move up in year though, your independence increases and you get more responsibility. By senior year, most people are living in wood frame houses with their friends.

Lorin_2016: As for the bathrooms. It's true. Some are coed

Tian Richards: Are they single bathrooms or communal? And only some?

Lorin_2016: Don’t worry, it's not nearly as awkward as it sounds

Tian Richards: lol

Lorin_2016: Yes. What happens is that at the beginning of the year your hall votes on whether they want the bathrooms to be coed or not. Typically they are. It's a combination of communal and singles (depending on which dorm you're in).

Lorin_2016: It's a really great system because it includes everyone regardless of their gender or sexual preference.

OwenZach: Here in Bennet, we have gender separate bathrooms this year (both communal) and one single-use bathroom

Tian Richards: Okay, thank you guys!

Lorin_2016: And it's fine if you're a bit timid about the idea of brushing your teeth next to someone of the opposite gender every morning. You quickly get used to it and it actually helps to keep the bathrooms cleaner (bc no one wants to be that guy that screwed up the common space)

Hanna Park: Is there anything you think Wesleyan could improve on?

Lorin_2016: I haven’t run into any serious issues. Personally I'd like more streetlights on my walk home from the library late at night

Hanna Park: Haha

OwenZach: Yeah, more walkway lighting in general would be nice

OwenZach: But that's all I can think of really...

Lorin_2016: I would say that a larger presence of support for school sports, however, we just had the first ever NESCAC night football game against Tufts (fyi, we won, YAY) and the turn out for it was incredible

Lorin_2016: After every touchdown, the Wesleyan fight song broke out. It was definitely a sight to see. People even painted their faces

Hanna Park: This is more specific, but I'm planning on visiting Wesleyan this coming Sunday, and I was wondering if you had any recommendations on the best way to get from New Haven to the school.

HannahGreene: I'm from New Haven!

CODY Assistant Dean: Driving is the best way. I commute daily.

Hanna Park: Haha well I'm probably taking the train from Manhattan to New Haven. I don't live there

Hanna Park: Unfortunately, I don't have a car.

Hanna Park: Is there a commonly used bus or taxi from New Haven to Wesleyan?

HannahGreene: Not that I know of

Lorin_2016: Around breaks there is a Wesleyan facilitated bus that runs, I'm not sure about right now though

Hanna Park: Okay, thanks anyway. I'll call the admissions office to find out more about that.

Hanna Park: Thank you for this chat!

Hanna Park: It was great talking to everyone.

CODY Assistant Dean: Take all the best care folks. :)