W.I.L.D. delivers music, good time and political activism

| Senior News Editor
Method Man, half of the Method Man-Redman duo, raps during their headlining performance. (Princeton Hynes | Student Life)

Method Man, half of the Method Man-Redman duo, raps during their headlining performance. (Princeton Hynes | Student Life)

Sounds of laughter and chatter drifted through the Brookings Quad along with the mingled smell of pizza, beer and smoke. Hands waved in the air and bodies swayed against each other while the music flowed on.

There goes another Walk In Lay Down (W.I.L.D.).

With Method Man and Redman as the headliner preceded by K’Naan and Passion Pit, Team 31 Productions did not disappoint its audience in this fall’s W.I.L.D.

Senior David Schubert, co-chair of Team 31, knows there is always one reliable measure he can count on to gauge student satisfaction and event success.

“We were out of pizza, so the turnout had to be good,” Schubert said.

Many students crowded around the stage to position themselves closer to the music and excitement of the concert.

Indie-electronic musicians Passion Pit, an opening act, take the stage at W.I.L.D. (Joshua Goldman | Student Life)

Indie-electronic musicians Passion Pit, an opening act, take the stage at W.I.L.D. (Joshua Goldman | Student Life)

“I liked Passion Pit the most,” junior Ian Chui said. “I really like Passion Pit.”

Sophomore Michael Offerman echoed Chui’s appreciation for the opening alternative band.

“I think Passion Pit was the most well known and probably should have been the headliner,” he said. “Method Man and Redman—not many people knew their lyrics, but they were a good combo.”

Freshman Michaela Sass commented on the liveliness of the acts and the concert atmosphere.

“[The performers] were very energetic and engaging,” Sass said. “It was crowded and pretty intense and confusing—but fun. It was a lot of fun.”

W.I.L.D. with a political twist

Though most of the concert carried on as it would in the past, this fall’s W.I.L.D. started on a very different note.

Minutes before K’naan’s performance, a new kind of presence took the stage and demanded everyone’s attention.

Junior Alex Greenberg ran to the stage, grabbed the microphone and identified himself as a straight male and a member of Sigma Epsilon fraternity. For the next four minutes that followed, Greenberg introduced the Right Side of History—an organized effort supported by several University undergraduates to recharge the LGBT movement by garnering support from straight youths.

Greenberg spoke of his friend, senior David Dresner—one of the two founders of the Right Side of History. Dresner along with 2008 alum Brian Elliot, both of whom are openly gay, started the organization with the hope that it will one day become a national movement.

Dresner said he is glad Greenberg was the one to deliver the message.

“I think that having Alex deliver the message maintains the narrative that we’re using to garner support from straight people,” Dresner said. “He is close with me, and personally vocalized in the past his concern for my future. It was touching that [he] did that for me.”

A crowd of students cheer and dance as they listen to opening act K’Naan at W.I.L.D. in Brookings Quad on Saturday. (Princeton Hynes | Student Life)

A crowd of students cheer and dance as they listen to opening act K’Naan at W.I.L.D. in Brookings Quad on Saturday. (Princeton Hynes | Student Life)

Greenberg’s speech drew mostly positive cheers from the crowd. Many students clapped to acknowledge the group’s mission, while others remained more reserved while processing the message.

“Starting at Wash. U. in this quad at W.I.L.D. begins the trek to the Right Side of History,” Greenberg cried out to the audience. “It is not an event. It is not a student club. It is nothing of the sort. It is strictly a civil rights movement that all of you are very welcome to be a part of.”

Since the announcement at W.I.L.D. and an article focusing on The Right Side of History published in Student Life last Friday, Dresner said his inbox has been flooded with e-mails.

“There’s an unbelievable number of alumni and students who are interested. We’re building infrastructure as it grows,” he said. “We will continue to reach out at Wash. U. while reaching out to other universities in the country.”

Team 31 approved of the stage time that the Right Side of History had requested—a decision that Schubert deemed “just seemed right.”

“Honestly, it’s not a perfect venue, but it’s the only large-scale venue at the University to give a speech like that,” he said. “We did think about the appropriateness, but we knew it would be a good chance for them. We are all really supportive of the group and its mission.”

“We wanted to help them in whatever way we could,” Schubert added.

Team 31, however, is not making any promises to give other social issues stage time in future shows.

“We didn’t want to politicize W.I.L.D.,” Schubert said. “The Right Side of History was a group that had reached out to us. They had a great agenda, a pretty clear-cut message and an idea of how we could help them.”

For Dresner, there was no better place or time to deliver the message of activism.

“The noble energy complements the fun, cohesive message of W.I.L.D.,” he said. “At the end of the day, there aren’t that many times when all of Wash. U. gets together. We had the opportunity, and we seized the day.”

  • Patrick Seaworth

    What is here being professed for, would leave us with a society that is more fractured after the rights than before them.

    Our great civil and human rights leaders have been so successful because they have brought society together while bringing about the de juro change needed in order to live in an de facto-ly equal society.

    On a less heated topic the points can be more clearly identified without the rage, anger, and hatred that exists on both sides of this issue, which whether it is in the right or not only serves to isolate the respective camps rather than to unite them. (http://www.studlife.com/forum/2009/10/05/a-response-to-philip-christofanelli’s-letter-to-professor-benson/)

    If the campus group here in support of not what was said but how it was said and the exclusionary nature of the access to a moral right and wrong, in general wants to be successful in enacting change there is much to be said for the amount of things they themselves must learn about the way they are coming across before they can present that which they believe in with any accuracy of vision. (See my comment on previous article for clarification as it pertains to rights of other groups in America and the need to advance a real societal change rather than a real de juro change. http://www.studlife.com/news/2009/10/02/‘the-right-side-of-history’/)

    Sincerely,
    Patrick S. Seaworth

  • Patrick Seaworth

    This can never be truely done until all aspects are acceptted which means the left (technically speaking on the issue) has to come as far to the table as does the right in terms of acceptance.

    The left has to accept that there are individuals whose religious beliefs will never accept homosexuality as an acceptable form of life management (don’t get caught up on terms, its the very insolence of ‘the movement’, which at this point is seperate and distinct from the actual movement, to begin with).

    In order to have a movement where as a campus we come together, and then go out unto the world where our understanding of one another is something that the rest of the world can gain from is not a movement that is advanced by raw unbalanced emotion. The fact that it is a pathetic appeal, technically, is only partially humorous given the manner in which it came across.

    And this is the problem with ‘Wash U students’ (that refering to those persons such as this that have the rest of the campus negatively stereotyped in these kinds of circles), that what they presented, and are here in endorsing is seen as the right manner of social change. What it is is on the borderline of rabid bigotry.

    I am not against the idea of a ‘Right Side of History’ nor do i find the notion elitist in nature, (and to be quite honest the term is offensive to those individuals that seek perfection as it relates to one area or another, this kid was nowhere near elite in the manner in which he presented his position, nor in the amount of response here on going, even what some of those very persons would deem ‘white trash’ can stir up the media) what was presented to the students was literal crap.

    The message, if there even was one, other than that then the individual on stage has a gay friend, that is apparently his identical twin, and that he wants that individual to have the rights that straight citizens have, has turned into another divisive rather than uniting event.

    There is much to be said for the manner in which we as a society make it to that day where these things need no longer be discussed as anything other than a horror of the past, and the society we are left with once the wanted rights are granted.

  • Patrick Seaworth

    What was done was innapropriate and disrepectful not only unto the group that it was representing but unto the wash u community and the larger GLBT movement in general. Further it dates back years to such actions that are utterly embarasiing. It smacks of desperation and a lack of the kind if dignity that requires acceptance. its an act that I know I will have to apologize for in my circles away from the school (Not the message, the childish way in which it was delivered.) It is imperative that an individual have enough respect for that which he is speaking that he presents it in a manner worthy of response, not so unworthy of response that it generates the need to be addressed.

    There was a line from a newsweek editorial some time ago were the editorialist quoted a christian who was stating his religious beliefs that just so happened to contrast to her personal opinions. She responded ‘please God deliver him from my right hook.’ And so to is that which was placed on stage, because it was on the sappy side of the emotional spectrum doesn’t differentiate the unprocessed nature of the message and the emotions there attached.

    This isn’t the kind of speech, and the kind of action, that brought Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights movement to the forefront. Its the kind of speech that sets back a movement it professes to forward.

    I couldn’t stand behind civil rights expansion more if I tried, however, there is a right and wrong way to do things, and a right and wrong way to present those things to a community.

    At the time the speech was given to a drunk crowd in attendance for the consumption of the lyrics of one of any number of bands, this newspaper had already spoken on the matter, the individuals in crowd who didn’t know, either would have soon found out, or would have remained oblivious by choice. But that doesn’t mean that that was the way in which to educate them, it was a way which made the efforts themselves appear quite pathetic and desperate in nature and lacking of the very human values, with the exception of emotional desperation, that human rights campaigns must be made of. A human rights campaign that does not present self dignity has no chance of getting others to display dignity towards it, putting a video on youtube and adding typeface that would otherwise be quite exciting to the movement doesn’t change that fact it only further engrains the very problem and the opportunity wasted rather than taken advantage of.

    To force a devisive speech, on a crowd, that in all fairness sounded like a young child crying on stage, was beyond the limits of what the school should tolerate as it applies to manners in which the school moves society forward towards a more equal future.

  • Patrick Seaworth

    If it was brand new news, that the military changed its policy, or, that all of a sudden homosexual marriages were disallowed were they had once been allowed, and if that standing on that stage and yelling out the bad news, rather than having reserved the quad for an event directed at doing exactly what you claimed to have been doing, then that would be one thing, but it wasn’t it was someone stealling a mic and ruining the chance for the students themselves to do just that on their own.

    When one student gets up and says ‘this is whats right’, you automatically lose everyone on the other side of the table and no one wins.

    This is not to be compared to a manner in which one person says, segregation is wrong, and to stand and accept the opposite opinion. This is a matter were one of the most liberal states in the nation was unable to prevent the ceremony of marriage from attack, regardles of ‘lds morals not welcome here’ signs (signs which only further my point being here expressed).

    If the movement truly wishes to enact change then it wouldn’t do so in the manner in which it is ongoing. If you wish to enact change hold events, go out and live your life under public scrutiny without turning into kanye west. if you can’t win the campus through change in perception, you aren’t going to be able to carry the city and much less the state.

    What the right is reluctant to accept is the very kind of vitriol that is being attacked in their actions, with regards to the rights protests against healthcare reform.

  • Patrick Seaworth

    The way social perceptions are changed is through social experience. No one had their mind changed through actual straight gay interactions after that speech. True it may have made the audience think about the subject matter which i can guarantee was not on the list of things to do when they started drinking early that morning, but it was done so under social circumstances as grey as the sky above.

    What the above individuals are talking about is the fact that this self rightous nature can only further entrench the two side of the issue and thus will only lead to political outcomes which in the short term have little afect on the discrimination present in society, rather it only changes what discrimination can be legally enacted.

    If you really wish to enact change, change peoples perceptions through the manner in which you live your life, do not get on a stage in front of a group of individuals that could care less about you restating a message that many of them already have decided on.

  • Patrick Seaworth

    This is not to say that you place the actions of the group on hold, it meerly means that you move forwad with the procedural mechanisms of the group and support it as a legitimate group with a legitimate message in a legitimate forum, the quad liquor drenched not being one of those forums

    Take for example, if I had stood up and stated that abortion is murder and that were going to come together and create a cvil rights movement for those persons least able to defend themselves. Regardless of anyones view on that statement it was similar in effect to the one placed on drunk students on a day that was to be a celebration of a society that doesn’t need to be lectured to about values they already hold.

    Further, the speech doesn’t smack of moral eletism it smacks of a group of kids within the wash u bubble making themselves self-agrandizing marters for lack of a better word.

    The school has forums for these matters, and if it is adequate that the administration can hold forums as a way of addressing matters, then so too can these matters be addressed in forums.

    When you stand and yell at a crowd, you missed the entire point of wild. what was really lost was the ability of gay and straight students to stand together and become friends without doing so under the guise of that speech.

  • Patrick Seaworth

    Everyone knows that homosexuals are not afforded the rights of straights as it pertains to many different areas of society, or at least should know. Being a student at WashU should endow upon each student the responsiblity to know what is going on in the world and to act on their beliefs in a manner that is up to par with the school itself.

    What, I assume Ed was getting at above, is the fact that what was put onto the crowd, regardless of whether it was naïveté in speaking in front of a group or not, was something full of social vengeance and vitriol not something full of the moral elitism that others have said is exactly what they are going for.

    In order to move the public forward you do not stand and yell at a crowd that knows and or already has opinions based on the material from their own ability to process informaiton and then say were going to be a civil rights movement when you lack the ability to percieve what you are spewing onto the crowd you are addressing is the very kind of thing that stands in between people and coming together to bring forth a civil rights movement.

    If you want a civil rights movement give people the chance to accept one another, and if after a reasonable amount of time has passed and the campus does not, then you say this is what we believe in not everyone believes in it and we can’t force them to and you go forth with that notion. You don’t get stuck in a literal mud pit yelling and screaming about your best friend and his rights. You do what your best friend did and sit down with the school newspaper, and let the people themselves come to accept one another as they will without openly spewing the hate towards other groups that you complain is being spewed upon your friends.

  • Patrick Seaworth

    The people that do these things, that are living courageously in the face of discrimination, they don’t get up and yell about themselves and their friends at a peaceful event only to see their friends being the way in which they have their fifteen minutes of youtube fame screaming about brining a civil rights movement o the forefront, check the news, you all didn’t. Thats not to say that you all will not, its to say that the school apologizing to SLU about eraniously linking them to a abortion program (which is a huge deal in the catholic community) did.

    And, further, that I would be embarrassed if this is the first light this ‘child’ of a movement sees.

    The people that do these things, and that really support them, give interviews to the student newspaper and they make friends with straight people and they bring straight and gay social circles together. They don’t light a social bomb prior to an event that is about the students coming together as a society absent the factors of daily life, i.e. the point is to bring together the student body as a whole, where the very change wanted takes place on its own, where as the speech forced upon those students destroyed the chance of that happening naturally. (Teach a man to fish…)

    My parish in a southern Texas city comprised of primarily, middle class, and military families, has never once had anyone in the parish standing up at a lecturn preaching about acceptance of homosexual catholics, however, in its school, in its programs you will find gay and lesbian catholics openly acceptted and embued with very particular religious responsibilities as equals and never once as anything else. This was done by people coming together and finding common ground, not by someone forcing a speech about how superiour he is for having a homosexual friend than the rest of the audience many of whom may not have homosexual friends, which is not wrong unto themselves.

  • Patrick Seaworth

    I remember sitting at the Vice-presidential debate last year, far in the rafters with the rest of the lottery winners, and not being able to contain my disbelief at hearing what was to be the most groundbreaking of elections presenting for its audience a ‘back of the bus’ to the homosexual community. WE all knew that was the way they felt and what they professed, but with all of the pomp and circumstance surrounding the event, hearing humans being denegrated to a second class at the very event that is suppossed to mark the pinicle of our society was a dishearting moment not only or myself but i believe for our entire progressive society. However, what was said on that stage was no better in many regards.

    In looking at our nations first minority president, one that will surely have to change his position on gay marriage at some point in his political career, it is easy to think that we as students, enlightened beyond even the most elite of presidents (as far as educational backing goes), are therefore morally superior beings that do not have to worry ourselves with the real concerns that have created many disagreements within our progressive society on the matter despite intelligence and openness to ideas of all matters.

    What was wrong with what was said, is the way in which it was presented, there was no moral right to stating the things the way they were stated. It was a public, ‘there’s only one side to this issue’. Rather than coming off as something good and positive that is above the treatment they are receiving from society at large, what was presented was an emotional mirror to the hatred which is addressed at the GLBT community on a daily basis. And, as such what was said failed in its purpose, and only furthered the cycle of hatred in this community and therein further engrained a negative manner of response to a very pressing issue within our nation.

    What was given to the crowd was something that mirrored a kanye diatribe at an event that is suppossed to be the very place where two students who may not have met previously can sit back and get to know one another which, if the two students where one straight and one gay, have advanced the issue more credibly than was done by one, i wouldn’t say coward, but I will say this, it is easy to get up with a mic and yell about a friend, what is hard and takes courage to do are the things his friend is doing.

  • BK

    What’s wrong with being part of the “moral elite” when you’re right? And when you’re trying to get everyone to join you’re elite?

    Side Note: I particularly love this comment: “Gays have as good lives in this country as they could ask for given the short history of the movement.”

    I remember the day when I first got my good life of equality. I went to the Registry of Good Lives when I was zero years old to sign up. When I gave them my forms at the window, they refused me after checking my WASPS quotient (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Straight). But then I told them, “Hey, we Jews have been fighting for the good life for millennia.” Recognizing their obvious mistake, they apologized and granted me the good life that I now lead. I’m sure in time when the movement gets older, Gays (umbrella term) too will go to the Registry window and show that they’ve been fighting long enough for their rights. Pssh, it’s not like the slaves should’ve been able to start leading good lives just because slavery was over… no, they needed to struggle for over a hundred years to prove that they were deserving of the good life of equality.

  • Jeff

    I think the talk about liberalism and elitism is missing the point. If you agree with the facts and think that it is wrong that homosexuals can be fired in half of the states in this country just for being gay or are being neglected any rights even if they do have “good lives” then what is wrong with trying to change it. And let’s face it, public displays are some of the best ways to get people’s attention and it really wasn’t that offensive in tone. I don’t see why “elitism”, “liberalism”, “holier-than thou attitude” or “masturbation” (edward??) should affect whether we support it or not.

  • Samuel Baier

    Edward,

    “Gays have as good lives in this country as they could ask for given the short history of the movement.”

    Although The Right Side of History itself is relatively new, the movement for LGBT equality is at least 40 years old. Why should anyone have to settle for anything less than simple equality, especially when they’ve been struggling for over a generation?

    As a conservative person at a mostly liberal university, you almost certainly know better than I how it would feel to be a gay person in a predominantly straight America. If you could be fired from your job just for being conservative (as people can be fired just for being gay in 29 U.S. states), I doubt you would see your God-given right to free speech as evidence that you were living a good life. Being allowed to speak about discrimination is no substitute for ending discrimination.

    As Mr. Plutzer points out, public perception of the movement for LGBT equality does not change the fact that everyone in this country should enjoy the same civil rights. If the perception of the movement hurts the cause, change the movement — but the cause is still worth fighting for.

  • MK

    Win or lose the movement has been working to get the attention of those who were uninformed. Strategies for doing so can be criticized but there is no malicious intent in this movement. While the WILD venue may have been controversial, it has generated a stir on campus. For those who criticize the RightSideofHistory I encourage you to email Dresner or the organization itself. It is young and if you really care, you should know you input is valued and will be taken seriously.

  • Edward M Lazzarin

    Liberal-guilt.*

    I think the framing and in-your-face attitude of this group is exactly what the right is afraid of: a bunch of rash, liberal “kids” forcing their “moral relativism” on others without understanding the “disastrous consequences” on society. Of course, I disagree with this idea, but it sure doesn’t help to appeal to their precise fear. Be more cognizant of yourselves, for Pete’s sake. If anything, that’s my problem. A total lack of cultural awareness; of the kind of self-consciousness that makes a movement prescient and eternal.

    I guess you can only expect so much.

  • Edward M Lazzarin

    1. I think that the reaction to Laura’s comment, and accusations that she doesn’t support the movement for gay rights broadly speaking, is evidence that her claim is true. You who reacted poorly are guilty of the kind of elitism and holier-than-thou attitude that makes the right so reluctant to come along.

    2. Greg: I don’t care how important the message is or how much courage it took to say it. The speech was almost absurd in its urgency. Gays have as good lives in this country as they could ask for given the short history of the movement (evidence for this is the very fact that this speech was permitted). There are more important things that really require the urgency this speech contained. This was just elitist and almost cheesy.

    I was cringing the entire time, wishing this act of public, liberal-guilty style masturbation would end.

  • Julian Ambler

    I think that the effort to reach out to a broad audience is a great move. The LGBT movement has been stigmatized for a long time. It is characterized as frivolous and for lack of a better term too “gay”. I hope that if nothing else this organization makes it impossible for people to be passive supporters of the equal rights movement. This is one of today’s greatest moral battles, yet is languishes due to a negative label. I hope that the Right Side of History allows people to look past the “pride” movement to see the core of the issue at hand. You have all my support David Dresner.

  • Michael Freedman

    Laura,

    I’m sorry you felt put off by the speech at WILD; I know it wasn’t intended to be elitist or preachy. It was intended to inspire people to re-examine the world around them and to take a stand against injustice. In your case, it seemed to have missed the mark. So, in response I ask that instead of writing off this movement as preachy and elitist, you take an active step and help refine the message. With the help of people like you, we can avoid alienation and make a meaningful difference in the lives millions of Americans.

    Michael

    Feel free to contact me via Facebook.

  • Greg Siegel

    Wow Laura, I don’t think we were listening to the same speech. I think it took a lot of courage for Alex to get in front of a crowd that size and fight for such a worthy cause. His message is an important one, and one that is not talked about at Wash U nearly as much as it should be. The name “The Right Side of History” does not imply “moral elitism,” as you suggest, but moral necessity. A moral necessity to give equal rights to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation. Anyone that can go in front of a crowd of drunk college students and demand such rights that you yourself claim to support should not be called “obnoxious and inappropriate.”

  • Alex Plutzer

    I think the name can change if necessary.. it’s the meaning that’s important. I personally know some of the people responsible for the inner workings of the movement and I can guarantee that they have no intention of taking that role at Wash U and are simply using this campus as a launch point to expand out and actually make a difference. I can understand if some people are confused or unhappy with the way they go about their message. But it’s like giving charity… even if a donation is made egotistically and in bad taste, it’s still a donation. And these guys intend on making a difference and meeting the same goals every other LGBT movement hopes for. Complete equal rights

  • Malcolm Ray

    Moral elitism? Sure I’ll give you that The Right Side of History hasn’t yet completely honed their message. I’ll even give you that the speaker seemed more to be talking more from a position of friendship with a particular gay guy than his knowledge of LGBT issues. But what you clearly fail to understand is that we exist in a country in which our laws discriminate. It is a simple fact that gay and lesbians should have the same rights that the rest of the country does. That is what it means to be on the right side of history. For too long have LGBT people and their friends have to skirt around, acting respectful of the ‘different views’ those who actively pursue legal discrimination. To be on the right side of history is to say that it is a fact that slavery is wrong; to say that it is a fact that every child should have the opportunity for a good education; to say that it is a fact that women should have the right to vote; and yes, to say that it is fact that LGBT Americans should have the same rights as everyone else. To be on the right side of history is to not be afraid to speak the truth in a world where the ‘opinions’ of other’s can hurt you, your dreams and your family. Self-righteousness? Moral elitism? Empty platitudes of anger and divisiveness in a time when we need constructive conversation and serious action.

  • Scott Burger

    I completely disagree. I believe that the speech was inspiring and extremely well done considering the crowd. This speech was not given to a crowd of attentive activists but rather a rowdy group of college students. For this reason it had to be quick and powerful and get the point across. To me, the name “The Right Side of History” simply intends to imply that LGBT equality will happen eventually (as most studies show) but needs to happen now, in a short historical time span. The main message of the speech was that the LGBT community is simply a group of normal American citizens, something that is not in the least bit elitist or alienating or condescending.

  • Jacob

    After reading your comment, I’m not quite sure how genuinely behind the cause of gay rights you really are. The speech was not only fantastic and genuine, but caused a large section of the crowd to begin chanting in its favor. The idea was to present the goals of the Right Side of History to a crowd of educated students and gage their response. From my perspective, that response was wildly positive and should be a source of encouragement for anyone involved in the movement. As to the name, “The Right Side of History,” I cannot find any sense of moral elitism. It simply fixes the dichotomy of pro and anti-gay rights on the right and wrong scale. If you think being against gay rights is synonymous with being along the right side of history, then how can you consider yourself a promoter of LGBTQ rights? This is not a show, a sermon, or a diatribe. It’s a movement for results in the form of equal rights to those who fully deserve them yet don’t receive them.

  • Laura Kelly

    I’m completely behind equal rights for gays and have been an activist for the cause myself, but I thought the diatribe was obnoxious and inappropriate. Just the name of “The Right Side of History” smacks of self-righteousness and moral elitism. It seems like they haven’t thought about how alienating their name is to the people they’re supposedly trying to convince. The sermon at WILD just kind of confirmed that The Right Side of History wants to occupy the condescending preachy activist role at Wash U.