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Category Archive for 'First Year Matters'

If you have not already done so, take some time to get together with your roommate(s) to go through the Thriving Together workbook. Establishing ground rules early in the semester and resolving the issues in the Roommates Agreement Form will help prevent minor problems from escalating into major problems later in the year. If you need assistance completing the agreement, ask your Resident Advisor for help. RAs are trained in conflict mediation and can offer an impartial perspective. Whether you are already best of friends or just cordial acquaintances, a healthy roommate relationship requires open communication, compromise and respect.

WesFiles is a centralized, web-based, document storage system that enables users to have easy network access to all their documents from anywhere. WesFiles replaces the old system of different storage locations for different types of documents, often requiring different front end programs and different usernames and passwords to gain access to files stored on different systems. There are many advantages to storing your documents in WesFiles.

  • Easy network access to all your documents from anywhere.
  • Easy web access. You simply have to connect to https://wesfiles.wesleyan.edu and provide your credentials to access all your documents.
  • WesFiles system can also be mounted on your desktop so it appears as though it is another disk on your computer.
  • Ease of collaboration – you can set the access control for any document yourself; you can also share documents with anyone who doesn’t even have a Wesleyan email account.
  • You don’t have to worry about backing up your files because WesFiles is backed up for you on a regular basis.
  • WesFiles lends itself to extensions easily. For example, ITS has written a dropbox function that the faculty can set up in WesFiles.
  • WesFiles provides a document workflow engine that is very powerful.

More information is available on the WesFiles blog.

The Office of Student Activities and Leadership Development helps students plan events, get involved on campus, and develop leadership skills. Last year, the office assisted students in planning over 2,300 events, including speakers, concerts, regular meetings, performances, and parties. The office also provides leadership development sessions for groups of students on request and is planning to expand its leadership development offerings. This year, the office has implemented a new virtual room request system as well. Students can now check availability and request room bookings through the e-portfolio.

If you are interested in getting more involved, contact Tim Shiner or Elisa Del Valle or visit the Office of Student Activities and Leadership Development on the first floor of the Usdan Center, across from the computer store.

Stop by the Community Engagement Fair on Wednesday, September 17, from 11:30 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. in the Usdan Courtyard (rainsite: Beckham Hall) to find out about volunteer opportunities, work study opportunities and various other happenings and partnerships with the Middletown community. Twenty-five agencies and a host of student groups will be in attendance sharing information. If you have any questions, contact Cathy Lechowicz (clechowicz@wesleyan.edu), Director of the Office of Community Service and Volunteerism.

Because of the rise in value of the average bicycle in recent years and the increase in the number of bikes on campus, there has been an increase in the number of bikes stolen on campus, with mountain bikes and other touring styles being the most frequent targets of theft. Most bikes that have been stolen were either unsecured or secured with cable or chain and padlock.

If you have a bicycle on campus:

  • Register your bicycle with Public Safety
  • Engrave your bicycle with your Driver’s License number
  • Use a good horseshoe bar style lock and lock it according to the instructions
  • Always lock your bicycle, preferably to a bike rack. If permitted by Residential Life, keep your bike in your residence hall room
  • Be alert to suspicious activity near bike storage areas. Call Public Safety at 685.2345.

Starting Tuesday, September 9, Public Safety officers will be staffing a table in the Usdan Center on a weekly basis to provide crime prevention advice as well as information on property and motor vehicle registration. Additional information is available on the Public Safety website.


e-chugThere’s a difference between people who drink and people who get drunk. People who get drunk are at higher risk for problems, both inside and outside the classroom. And studies show that people who drink four or more drinks in a day are at greater risk for having alcohol-related problems. If you are interested to learn how your consumption rates, take the Electronic Check-Up to Go (or e-CHUG).

e-CHUG is a free, confidential and anonymous online assessment that helps you look at your usage of alcohol relative to other college students. While your Wes email name and password is required to sign in, your identifying information is not connected to the personalized feedback you receive. It takes less than 10 minutes to complete and is available to you any time through the Health Services website.

Check out these scenes from the First Year Matters/Feet to the Fire Common Moment on August 29, 2008. Photos by Nick Lacy.

off the beaten pathOff the Beaten Path: A Jazz & Tap Odyssey explores the American art forms of jazz and tap and their unique cultural influences. The full-evening performance was created under the direction of award-winning New England dancer/choreographer Drika Overton and musician, composer and educator Paul Arslanian, in collaboration with renowned tap dancers Brenda Bufalino and Josh Hilberman (Wesleyan ’88). Fusing heritage with innovation, Off the Beaten Path: A Jazz & Tap Odyssey weaves diverse themes inspired by Rachel Carson, pioneer of the modern environmental movement, throughout the production’s storyline into an exhilarating and compelling journey for audiences of all ages to experience. The performance will take place on Friday, September 5, at 8:00 p.m. Additional details and information on how to purchase tickets is available from the Center for the Arts.

winina ladukeOn Wednesday, September 3, at 4:15 p.m. in the Memorial Chapel, Winona LaDuke, an environmental and political activist will welcome the Wesleyan community back to campus with an address on “Indigenous Thinking about a Post Carbon, Post Empire Economy.” LaDuke is an Anishinaabekwe (Ojibwe) enrolled member of the Mississippi Band Anishinaabeg who lives and works on the White Earth Reservations, and is the mother of three children. At the age of 18, she spoke in front of the United Nations regarding Indian issues and since has become known as a voice for American Indian economic and environmental concerns throughout the United States and internationally.

As Program Director of the Honor the Earth Fund, she works on a national level to advocate, raise public support, and create funding for frontline native environmental groups. She also works as Founding Director for White Earth Land Recovery Project. A graduate of Harvard and Antioch Universities, LaDuke has written extensively on Native American and Environmental issues, including the novel Last Standing Woman (1997), the non-fiction book All our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life (1999), and Recovering the Sacred: the Power of Naming and Claiming (2005), a book about traditional beliefs and practices. LaDuke enlightens audiences about issues of racism and social injustice suffered as a result of contact with white people and the colonialism that followed. LaDuke’s storytelling reflects many aspects of traditional, Anishinabe culture, including a sustenance lifestyle and the importance of community, ceremony and respect for all things.

On the evening on Thursday, August 28, members of the Class of 2012 took part in a survey on climate change.  Here are the results:

What do you see as the greatest threat resulting from climate change?

    threats histogram

  1. Threat to water resources. (16%)
  2. Threat to ecosystems. (37%)
  3. Threat to food. (7%)
  4. Threat to coasts. (5%)
  5. Threat to health. (9%)
  6. Warm spells/heat waves. (3%)
  7. Heavy precipitation events. (3%)
  8. Area affected by drought increases (4%)
  9. Intense tropical cyclone activity increases (4%)
  10. Increased incidence of extreme high sea level (14%)

What do you see as the most effective adaptation or alleviating factor to reduce the impact of climate change?

    alleviation histogram

  1. Stabilizing carbon emissions at the rate existing between the years 2000 – 2030 (17%)
  2. Stabilizing carbon emissions at the rate predicted between the years 2020 – 2060 (7%)
  3. Stabilizing carbon emissions at the rate predicted between the years 2050 – 2090 (3%)
  4. Adaptation of agricultural planning (4%)
  5. Coastal zone infrastructure (1%)
  6. Reinvestment in infrastructure and design of cities (11%)
  7. Adaptation to water use (4%)
  8. Adaptation to human health planning (3%)
  9. Reduction in pollution from domestic and industrial sources (24%)
  10. Strengthening of energy transmission and distribution (26%)

north end peninsula

The north-end peninsula of Middletown is an area of spectacular beauty and unique aquatic and riparian ecology in the Connecticut River watershed. The north-end peninsula contains a converted sanitary landfill as well as the recycling center and the remnant of the old Remington Building that built both type writers and munitions during World War I. The Coginchaug and Matabesset rivers converge at the north-end peninsula just below the Cromwell Meadows. Professor Chernoff will talk about aquatic conservation efforts on the Matabessett and Coginchaug Rivers as well as the efforts of the Jonah Center to develop the area sustainably for residents while protecting the ecosystem. All of these efforts include involvement of Wesleyan students. Students will follow the lecture with a trip to the land fill and North-End Peninsula. This is an ongoing research and community involvement project to transform an important piece of Middletown and to protect our environment. The lecture will take place in Usdan 108 at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 30. The trip to the North End Peninsula will follow the lecture.

lermanThe Feet to the Fire Common Moment is being led by the world renowned Liz Lerman Dance Exchange. The event features a dance performance by Wesleyan students with a special performance by students and community members on bicycles, tricycles and unicycles. As part of the performance, students will assemble in the shape of a histogram that outlines the results of a campus poll on global climate change. The night will conclude with a performance of fire-dancing by Wesleyan student group Prometheus.

The Common Moment takes place on Friday, Aug. 29 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Foss Hill.

pine islandThe Feet to the Fire/First Year Matters Common Reading Discussions that will be taking place on Thursday, August 28, from 7:00-8:15 p.m. are based on two sets of “texts:”

1. The first set of texts is four articles on the topic of global climate change that were made available over the summer:

  • Suketu Mehta, “Lost Horizons” (2007)
  • Edward T. Nickens, “Walden Warming” (2007)
  • T. Root, et al., “Fingerprints of Global Warming on Wild Animals and Plants” (2003)
  • Juliana Spahr, “Unnamed Dragonfly Species” (2002)

All four articles are available through the Wesleyan Library eReserve system (course: fym001; password: fym001) and all first-year students are expected to have read them before arriving on campus.

2. The second set of texts is four faculty lectures on the topic of global climate change that will be taking place on Thursday, August 28, from 4:00-5:30 p.m. All new students are expected to attend one of these lectures:

  • “Changing the Moral Climate” (Professor Elise Springer, Philosophy)
  • “Climate Policy and Interdisciplinary Scholarship” (Professor Gary Yohe, Economics)
  • “Decision Time: A Scientist and Humanist Discuss Energy Scarcity and Global Climate Change” (Professor Brian Stewart, Physics, and Professor Krishna Winston, German Studies)
  • “Social Knowledge and Climate Change” (Professor Paul Erickson, History)

The Common Reading Discussions are meant to provide new students with an opportunity to share their ideas on global climate change with faculty and other community members in a relaxed setting. Following these discussions at 8:15 p.m., RAs will prepare new students for the Common Moment with Liz Lerman Dance Exchange that will be taking place on Friday, August 29, from 7:30-9:30 p.m., by taking polls and helping them create wish ties.

fym banner

The First Year Matters newsletter is published by the Deans’ Office and features news about academic and community life at Wesleyan; events and happenings on campus; health and safety information; and profiles of people and their work. The latest issue provides information about New Student Orientation and the Feet to the Fire program, news about environmental initiatives and events on campus, a link to the PingMyHealth health assessment questionnaire, and a profile of Jessica French Smith, the lead student intern in the New Student Orientation office.


College life, as exciting as it is, can be significantly different from your past experiences. New environment, new friends, new classes, new ideas, new experiences are yours for the taking! There is familiarity with being a student since you’ve been doing that most of your life, but you may need to adapt your study habits to a less structured and more demanding academic environment. And you may be living on your own for the first time, responsible for everything from getting up on time for class to doing your own laundry to budgeting your money. A few suggestions for managing the transition:

  • Talk with friends and family members who have recently attended college about their experiences transitioning to campus life — the challenges, the joys, the things they wish they knew starting out. You may be able to glean some words of wisdom!
  • Make a plan with your parents/guardians for how frequently you will talk and email. Strive for regular, but not daily, contact. It will help you concentrate on adjusting to Wesleyan while still reducing the likelihood of feeling homesick.
  • Once on campus, seek out opportunities to get involved in one or two activities outside the classroom. Focus on quality, not quantity. You have plenty of time over the next four years to try out everything!
  • Being a college student does not have to equal being unhealthy. Strive for balanced eating habits, a regular sleep pattern and a manageable workload.
  • If you are of age and choose to consume alcohol while on campus, party with a plan! It will greatly reduce your risk for problems related to your own consumption. Learn more about how to do this with Randy Haveson during New Student Orientation.
  • Keep up your exercise routine at Wesleyan’s great athletic facilities, with WesWELL’s non-credit fitness classes, or on your own. Physical activity greatly helps with reducing stress levels and with mental acuity.
  • Ask for help if you need it academically or personally. We want to help you succeed!
  • Pick up more tips for adjusting to campus life here.

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