Apply for the First-Year Seminar Writing Prize

Submissions for the first annual First-Year Seminar Writing Prize are due by January 31st! Nominate yourself ( or a friend (by emailing Prof. Silber at lsilber@wes) to have a chance at one of six cash prizes. Any written work for an FYS completed in the 2020 calendar year is eligible to win this prize that celebrates the achievement of adjusting to academic writing expectations at Wes while finding and expressing your own voice.  See more information on our website:

Reflections on “First Year Matters” from the Peer Advisors

The “First Year Matters” (FYM) program has always been one of my favorite parts of New Student Orientation. FYM gives incoming students the opportunity to have a shared experience and introduction to the intellectual life at Wesleyan. This year’s FYM viewing is “This Changes Everything,” a powerful documentary that explores the intersection of capitalism and the global climate crisis, as well as the role individuals play in fighting for change. One aspect of Wesleyan that I love is the spirit of activism among students, and this documentary speaks to the importance of advocacy and everyone’s responsibility in demanding the changes that they want to see from people in power.

As you prepare to start your Wesleyan journey under extraordinary circumstances, FYM becomes increasingly important. Many of you in the class of 2024 will already share more common experiences than most students entering Wesleyan under typical circumstances, by virtue of the fact that the entire world shut down and with that came the loss of proms, high school graduations and so much more. You can use your experience viewing the documentary to further find common ground with your peers, to make connections and establish relationships during a time in which doing so has become so hard. While there are typically structured small group discussions during orientation devoted to the FYM reading or viewing, don’t let the conversations stop there. The more you discuss what you’ve seen, the more you’ll learn about your classmates, and their past experiences and viewpoints. We all bring vastly different perspectives with us to college, and FYM is the first time, and one of the only, your entire class will get to fully engage in the same conversation and you will get to see all the different ways people may interpret and understand the same thing.

In your WesPortal, there is a link to submit a brief response to the documentary. This is due on August 21st – your first assignment of college! You can use this response as an opportunity to engage critically with the documentary and be prepared to discuss it with your peers. I am excited to hopefully discuss the documentary with some of you and hear your thoughts!

If you have any questions about FYM, please don’t hesitate to reach out – my email is! Additionally, please feel free to reach out to me or any other peer advisor with any questions or concerns you may have about the semester ahead or beyond. You can email us at, or find an individual peer advisor’s email here. If you are interested, you can learn more about groups on campus that address climate change and sustainability and ways to get involved here. I hope you enjoy “This Changes Everything,” and that it helps instill a sense of activism that is very much alive on the Wesleyan campus!

First Year Matters: “This Changes Everything”

Each year the First Year Matters (FYM) Committee selects a common reading for the incoming class as an intellectual introduction to Wesleyan. Last fall we solicited from our community suggestions of texts and other media with an environmental theme. I’m pleased to report that the committee has selected the documentary “This Changes Everything”, directed by Avi Lewis and based on the award-winning book of the same title by environmental activist Naomi Klein. We plan to have author Naomi Klein speak during new student orientation.

The film is an unflinching look at the disparate impacts of climate change on various communities around the world and highlights some fundamental conflicts between global economic systems and efforts to combat climate change.

You will be receiving additional information including links that will allow you to access the film.  You will also be given your first homework assignment, which is a response to 3 or 4 questions related to the film that will be shared with your Class Dean and your academic advisor.  Please stay tuned for information about the FYM program.