As graduating seniors, we feel that it is important to acknowledge the institutional history that may be lost when our class leaves Middlebury. How did the college respond to Covid, and how did this (in)action affect our student body? Who is Charles Murray, and why has the college invited him to campus multiple times, despite widespread student retaliation and national news coverage? Is Energy2028 a feasible goal or another instance of institutional greenwashing? Where can we access resources created by students to ensure our academic, social and financial success at Middlebury?
Answers to all these questions and more can be found on Disorient. This student-led resource keeps our collective memory of resistance at the college alive. Inspired by similar initiatives at other schools, Disorient is a working document written by students committed to organizing, educating, learning and building a transformative community. Written without fear of public retaliation or perception, Disorient complicates what the college often makes out to be a straightforward, controversy-free history. It shares the stories of past organizational efforts, current student advocacy campaigns and institutional resources. For years, Disorient has provided students with an alternative narrative to Middlebury’s history. The website gives students a critical, eye-opening perspective which enables individuals to see beyond the progressive, problem-free ideals that are often pushed by the College.
When Covid disrupted the Middlebury community, Disorient laid dormant, as many of its collaborators moved on from Middlebury or became overwhelmed in a sea of newfound responsibilities. In light of its disappearance, we — a class of mostly graduating seniors, led by previous Disorient stewards — are reviving Disorient to ensure that the next generation of Middlebury students understands the college’s complicated history, as well as past advocacy campaigns to tackle it.
As graduating seniors, many of us had never heard about Disorient, but the information and resources available on the guide left our class excited to ensure future students’ access to and knowledge of this website. As it stands, Disorient is an incredibly informative resource for all students, faculty or staff interested in activism and alternative ways of thinking about Middlebury. However, access necessitates knowing about its existence.
Updating and revitalizing Disorient provides us with an opportunity to collaboratively recognize the importance of Middlebury in each of our lives. We critique the things we care about; thus, by renovating and increasing access to Disorient, we can continue to build a stronger, more transparent community at all levels of this institution.
It is imperative that we, the student community, continue to promote, update and engage our peers with the Middlebury College Disorientation Guide. Only by critically examining the college’s history can we promote collaboration and encourage alternative epistemologies at Middlebury.
Aimed at both incoming and current students, the timeline seeks to educate people on what actually happened rather than learning about it through word of mouth. A key part of a liberal arts education is developing our critical thinking, and one can’t do that without truly knowing the history of the institution which is teaching it.
Before leaving Middlebury for the summer and beyond, we encourage you to Disorient yourself. Learn non-conventional ways to save money in and around Middlebury. Access a list of progressive, equitable teachers who want to see you succeed regardless of gender, class, race or creed. Complicate your inner narrative of this school. Disorient is for YOU. Use it.
For anyone interested in joining the Disorient team, or just learning more about it, email firstname.lastname@example.org. To check out the ever-evolving website, visit go/disorient.
Jake Dreyfous is a member of the class of 2023
Lucas Donavan-Lafuente is a member of the class of 2023
Madeline Hiller is a member of the class of 2023