A clip from our interview with Kate Nattrass ’03 and Andrea McCoy ’03.
Storytelling: Kate Nattrass ’03 & Andrea McCoy ’03 by Wesleyan U
This week, we hear Kate and Andrea in conversation about their first days as roommates, and how they handled each other's opposing political views.
Andrea: “It started with an innocent enough campaign poster…”
Kate: “It was very, very Wesleyan.”
Kate, who was in the College of Social Studies at Wesleyan, previously served as an aide to Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell and is currently an international development professional based in Pakistan. Andrea, who studied English and Theater at Wesleyan, taught theater in Hartford and Boston for years and continued her study of educational theater at Lesley University. She is currently a recruitment consultant at a turnaround charter school network.
Mia Lobel: Welcome to the Wesleyan Storytelling Project. I am Mia Lobel, class of 1997. This week we hear from Kate Nattrass and Andrea Wilson McCoy, both class of 2003. They share a story about a contiguous campaign poster in their first year dorm.
Andrea W. McCoy: So we were roommates freshmen year and there were two other people stuck with us.
Kate Nattrass: Right, we were put in a two-room quad in Clark. They had more freshmen than normal that year, so we drew the lucky ticket.
AM: We were also lucky enough to be right by the entry stairwell. So that meant that the window to our room, or one of the two rooms, was right next to the door that everyone wanted to get into. So people would knock all hours of the day and night trying to get access to the building.
KN: Right. So we were all very close by the end of the year—
AM: We were all very close by like day two, 'cause we had to be.
KN: I realized that I was going to be friends with Andrea when she just really committed to making sure that our freshman year room was going to work. I think we said that we had four pretty different people and Andrea was always the mediator of the room, because inevitably when you have four women living–
AM: On top of one another!
KN: Right, there are going to be things that don't work out and Andrea was the one who said, ‘maybe we can have the RA come in and resolve this issue. Maybe we can have a conversation about how we can make this work better.’ And I was like ‘this is new to me and I need to learn from this woman. She’s just very, very smart.’
AM: But that’s kind of to me what Wesleyan is about. And that's what the ‘This is Why’ campaign is for me. That's why. It's learning from different people, and that’s part of why I wanted to be in a quad. I mean I had no interest in being in a single. I wanted to learn through my living experience as well as through obviously the classroom experience and the activity experience here at Wesleyan, and I certainly did every single year.
One of the kind of interesting learning experiences that first year that we were remembering last night is that we had a little bit of a bump in the road with the four of us early on. It started with an innocent enough campaign poster that was hung in the aforementioned window by the door, so it’s like the first thing everyone sees when they walk up to Clark is this campaign poster. It was Kate’s poster and it was of her political persuasion, and perhaps not exemplary of the other people living in the space. So it became a bone of contention because the other roommates were saying, ‘Well, now everyone thinks that’s my political view.’ And as people came up to the building, it was sort of a hot button.
KN: Yeah. And from my perspective–I said, well, you know Wesleyan is—
AM: It’s my window.
KN: Well, there’s that. But then also Wesleyan’s supposed to be this space for political discussion and dialogue. And so if we can’t allow, you know, a fairly mainstream political view to be openly discussed and presented, then what is this campus all about? Andrea finally put her foot down; I think we had some kind of late night mediation.
AM: We totally had a meeting.
KN: I mean, we had to sit down and say, 'Okay, how are we going to get around this?' And we actually came up with a collage. I mean, no joke.
AM: That was so Wesleyan.
KN: It was very, very Wesleyan. We had a collage of like different kinds of political messaging that we put up around this campaign sign. So, I don’t remember what other things were put up there—
AM: Oh, I do! So it was a conservative poster, let’s just say that, the original poster. And that is a dissenting view at Wesleyan. But because it’s Wesleyan, right? We accept everything as long as it’s super liberal, so people were very upset about this. So then around it, there was some penguin for president, something kind of apolitical. There was a bumper sticker that said 'Mean People Suck,' which was offensive to another of the roommates. It was great! So everybody put kind of their own spin on it and it became this whole panel on the window.
KN: Exactly. And I think we sort of moved past it.
AM: And below that was the poster that said, ‘We will charge a dollar for every time we open the door.’
KN: (Laughter) Absolutely.
AM: And that was our room.
Mia Lobel: That was Kate Nattrass and Andrea Wilson McCoy, class of 2003. The Wesleyan Storytelling Project is an opportunity for alumni to share their memories of Wesleyan with the wider community. Please visit wesconnect.wesleyan.edu/storytelling if you would like to get involved.
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Music: “Sleep Inside” by The Last Minutes—Ryan Rodger ’11, Ben Block ’11, Katherine McDonald ’11 and Bella Loggins ’10, and “Your Song” by Bella Loggins
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