Do you think about political and social justice issues but have no time to do more than that? Are you frustrated that the radical writing you’ve done for class is only ever really read by you and your professors? The Hermes blog is now going to be the new home of an exciting project, led by the University Organizing Center Coordinating Committee and other members of the Wesleyan University community. We will be posting online the academic papers of students who have written about anything social justice related as a way to share ideas and not let the work we all do to make sure the Wes machine keeps grinding away go to waste.
by Yael Chanoff
University of California students occupied their campus buildings after UC regents voted to increase student fees by 32%. The regents, who are appointed by California’s governor, are the equivalent of Wesleyan’s board of trustees in terms of financial management. At the November 18 regents meeting that approved the fee hikes, UC students, faculty and staff gathered at campuses throughout the state, demanding that the regents not increase student fees.
UC Berkeley is known for its activism, and although many students there feel that it has grown more conservative in past decades, over the last couple of months mobilization there has been strong. Over the summer, word began to circulate that the regents were considering severe restructuring of UC Berkeley’s budget. At news of a proposed 32% fee increase, students, faculty and staff began to organize. Existing groups, such as the faculty association SAVE the University and the student party CalSERVE (Cal Students for Equal Rights and a Valid Education), sprang into action. A new coalition of faculty, staff and students called UC Berkeley Solidarity formed in September to unite against the budget decisions.
by Paul Blasenheim
On November 20th, 2009, the first U.S. conference on the campus movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against the Israeli Occupation took place at Hampshire College. This high-profile event brought together people from as far away as California, Guam, Mexico, and Canada to discuss moving forward in the BDS effort to nonviolently end the illegal occupation of Palestine and the gross human rights abuses which take place there on a regular basis. The conference received media attention, and was attended by around 200 activists, signifying an increase in awareness and action against Israeli apartheid and the companies and corporations which continue to fuel the occupation.
by Peter Myers
Barack Obama is a concept
The eye in the pyramid on the dollar bill, gazing, all-knowing and watching limestone melt as time whips fires of dust
Barack Obama is a voice
Double-tracked, one that speaks words of wisdom in both your ears at once, in stereo
Barack Obama is the voice
in the back of your head that tells you to get up every morning, to turn off the water in your shower even though it’s cold outside and the curtained steam makes you feel warm, maybe even safe
Barack Obama is standing in line on July 21st, 2007, with a plastic wand and jet black wizard’s cap pulled snugly around his ears
Barack Obama is the photo of the sailor and the woman, an everlasting window into a subset of decaying time, one we thought we’d always know; the new America in retrospect
Barack Obama is what we saw twinkling at the edges of consciousness behind our eyelids when we squinted at the sun during an eclipse
Barack Obama landed a plane packed with three hundred million smiling faces on the Hudson, and gave the oath of office as the icy water pooled slowly around his ankles
The idea and the man can do nothing but slowly slide closer until the distinctions drift off: regression. Two slip into each other, twisting strings of DNA and rhetoric, verb arrangements and policy debates becoming one until hijacked angels crash into the river
Looks We Won’t Surrender by Katherine Bascom
The drink bites my tongue. I drop my bottom lip and breathe fire. I usually don’t drink on Tuesdays, but the heart healthy reputation of once-daily red wine eases my mind. I drink a tall glass and think in the present.
Distance from past actions is usually necessary for meaningful perspective, but these days we’re caught in the Moment of Now. The ubiquitous presence of tele-communication charges us with a disorienting spectacle of instant input. To combat this, let’s move out of the muck and find clearer waters.
by Meggie McGuire
I’m proud that Wesleyan has such a dynamic environmental movement. Hard work on the part of EON, the administration and a lot of passionate students has helped us make some small, but important efforts to become a more sustainable campus. I don’t need to relay this here, the Wesleyan website does plenty of boasting about our efforts to be environmentally friendly (check out http://www.wesleyan.edu/sustainability for more info on how fucking green we are).
That being said, individual (or in this case, campus) greening is largely ineffective if not paired with larger structural changes. In nearly every arena of sustainability, individual consumption has a negligible impact. Less than 10% of water usage and less than 3% of waste output is by individual consumers. Even in terms of energy consumption, individuals account for less than a quarter of the total . The real environmentally destructive culprit is not you, the lady down the street who doesn’t recycle or even Wesleyan collectively, but larger industrial systems which are consuming more energy and resources and releasing more waste and emissions than any of us could even dream of matching. Yes, Wesleyan embodies the lifestyle choices of over 2,700 individuals, but even this is minute when put in perspective. So, let’s make Wesleyan as green as can be, but our task doesn’t end there. Everything we count on in our daily lives necessitates the existence of larger, far more environmentally destructive institutions. And sadly, all of us “consuming green” is not enough to change this in and of itself, so don’t succumb to green guilt. Strive to live as low-impact as possible but do it because it’s the right thing to do. Living simply is good for the soul, but is not, by itself, a catalyst for substantial change.