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Friday, Sep 29, 2023

Making Efforts to Cover All the Bases MCAB Explains Its Work to Research "Kissing" Show, Appease Interest Groups

Author: MCAB Executive Board

In this article we will explain three things regarding "The Art of Kissing:" first, the process that lead to the booking of the event, second, the event itself and third, Middlebury College Activities Board's (MCAB) thoughts and reactions.

Those of you who attended "The Art of Kissing" last Saturday night probably noticed some commotion. This disturbance was the result of a group of individuals protesting Michael Christian's Web site and his kissing presentation.

Let it be known that MCAB first thought of bringing "The Art of Kissing" to Middlebury College last fall. Before booking the event, MCAB contacted the leaders of Feminist Action at Middlebury (FAM), Middlebury Open Queer Alliance (moqa) and Gay and Lesbian Employees at Middlebury (GLEAM). We gave these persons all the information we had concerning the show. We answered questions and even went as far as contacting other schools which have hosted this event in the past and asked for both their feminist's and gay's groups reaction to the program. When no objection was given by any of the above mentioned groups and when no complaints were supplied by the schools that we contacted, MCAB decided to go ahead and book the show. This process led us to be excited and confident about the event.

"The Art of Kissing" was originally booked for Feb. 14 in honor of Valentine's Day. MCAB decided against the date because we did not wish to compete nor take away from the "Vagina Monologues" audience. Once we changed the date to April 6, MCAB contacted FAM and moqa once again. We offered to have tables and suggested that FAM could hand out pamphlets on information concerning the month of April and women (abuse awareness month) during the show. We also offered a table to moqa and suggested that they hand out pamphlets concerning safe sex, since we knew this subject would be briefly addressed. Both organizations declined our offer. We had also extended an invitation to MOQA where same-sex couples would be welcome to participate within the actual show. This offer was also declined.

Last Saturday MCAB allowed individuals to hang up signs in McCullough. MCAB did not prohibit entry to the event to anyone. We also asked that a Public Safety officer attend the event for preventative measures; they were there to protect the rights of the protesters and the audience's right to enjoy the show. Two officers were present throughout the event. After having asked one student to please turn off and put away her megaphone, which she persisted in using during the show, this student was asked to step outside. When another student began to throw condoms at the audience, she was asked to leave the Social Space as well. For those of you who still have any MCAB ticket stubs (regardless of the event) I encourage you to read the fine print on the back. Here you will find the behavior that is expected of you as a spectator. Only when these rules of conduct had been broken, were the students asked to leave the performance. However, it is important to know that MCAB had no problems whatsoever with the protest once the show had come to an end; on the contrary, we support the expression of different opinions.

Then there was the "police" incident. Here, you may ask, "why were students asked to leave the lobby?" During a protest, the persons who partake of it must remain outside of where the event is taking place. One must understand that these students had already received some leniency and now the Public Safety officers wished to comply with the rules of the community standards. They felt the content of the signs to be inappropriate and offensive. When the students refused to leave, the police were called. It is school policy that when a student repeatedly does not do as a Public Safety officer asks, then the police are called. The students did not receive any state charges even though they were threatened with them.

Finally you may ask, "what about the content of the show?" To this we reply, MCAB welcomes AND encourages all opinions and sentiments. "The Art of Kissing" could have gone two ways: it could have been taken lightly by taking the same approach that one uses when going into a comedy show (comedians can say "racy", "racists" and "politically incorrect" remarks in the name of laughter) or, one can look for the representations of gender and race roles. As we had previously mentioned, you are the judge of it and all opinions are welcomed and respected.

Submitted by Eve-Anadel Coronado '02, Lindsey Gardner '03, Lisa Bennett '02, Andy Zrike '02, Jessica Salerno '02, Lindsey Perlmutter '03, Andrew Martel '04 and Meagan Dodge '03.