By Tori Albanese; The Whetstone
I have lived in Delaware my entire life, in the same house, the same neighborhood, with the same people.
Everything changed when my dad got a job in Florida. My family moved over a thousand miles away in the summer of 2020, and I lost the only home I had ever known.
What also happened in 2020 was the announcement that Wesley College would be no more. A 148-year-old school was wiped from existence.
Many students may not know the school the way I’ve known the school.
In 2000, my mom started as an adjunct faculty member in the math department at Wesley. That also happened to be the year I was born. I spent most of my childhood growing up on campus because my mom would bring me to work occasionally.
I considered Wesley to be my second home, the faculty my second family. By the time I was able to attend the college, the faculty I grew up with welcomed me.
The unfortunate thing was when I finally became a Wesley student, the campus wasn’t how I had remembered.
There used to be an energy and life on campus that faded over the most recent years. The clubs on campus have diminished.
It’s as if Wesley died before there was any indication of the DSU acquisition coming.
The old Wesley was a better and happier experience. The old Den was where Grill Works is currently. It may have not been the prettiest shop, but the food tasted better, and you always recognized the workers. The Starbucks was removed from campus the summer before I started due to “budgeting reasons.” There would be students crowded everywhere on campus. Not just in the main plaza, but the backside plaza and even the side courtyard. The greenhouse and community garden have overgrown because they were forgotten in recent years.
It seems like the spirit of Wesley was forgotten once the new president took his place.
There is a correlation to the slow decline and the introduction of President Clark. He has been in this position for five years now, and this has led to the DSU acquisition.
The professors and staff have watched the Wesley spirit fade year after year. I have watched this myself as well. Students used to be so excited for events and to just be around campus. The atmosphere of Wesley College growing up was inviting. It felt like a family. When walking on campus today, it feels like a graveyard, and students are walking corpses trying to survive while they can.
Cannon Hall and the professors who taught there were the grownups I looked up to when I was younger. Dr. Frank Fiedler and Dr. Derald Wentzien were colleagues of my mother, and they have been teaching at Wesley for as long as I can remember.
They were a part of my Wesley family first, and every year I visited campus with my mother, I was introduced to more faculty and staff. Now, I am close to many professors. They didn’t deserve the way the transition was handled. They are the backbone of Wesley, the family’s core.
Unfortunately, the downfall of the college has arrived. Many of the faculty received an email on April 14, informing them that they would not be considered for a position at DSU.
In other words, they were fired.
The following day, the weekly COVID-19 update email was sent out to everyone. The email begins with “Dear Wesley College Family,” and end with “All The Best & Go Wolverines!”
These phrases hit hard for those who were just abandoned by their so-called “family,” and triggered a mass response from faculty, students, and alum. I have not seen the Wesley family band together like this in a long time.
We almost let the legacy die without doing anything about it. But we spoke up, we put our personal views out there of the past year and its difficulties. It will not change the fate of our school, but it proved that the spirit of Wesley was still within us, that we are still a family.
Growing up, I would watch movies in Cannon’s lobby with my sister on an old TV we would take from the science labs. We would sit and snack, having the best time, while my mom taught down the hall. The best part about this was that whenever there was a class change, students would come and sit with us. Some even stayed to watch a little of the movie, others would just say hi and go to class. The secretary of Cannon Hall, Anh Gibson, was my best friend on the staff growing up. She was the one who watched us in the lobby. Sometimes her daughters joined me and my sister to watch movies. It was one of my fondest memories growing up on the Wesley campus.
I have already lost one family within the last year.
Wesley was my second home, my second family. I am not going to lose my second family despite the school closing. We – the faculty, staff, students and alum – make up the Wesley College family.
The buildings may be taken from us, but the legacy of the school lives on with us.