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Thursday, Jun 20, 2024

An open letter to Middlebury College from alumni in support of the Middlebury Gaza Solidarity Encampment

To date, more than 1000 Middlebury alumni have signed the Open Letter to Middlebury College pledging to withhold donations until student demands at the Middlebury Gaza Solidarity Encampment are met. We are immensely proud of the students who are embodying Middlebury’s mission statement principles of leading “engaged, consequential, and creative lives.”

While we are happy to see that students have achieved great progress on all five demands, we will continue to withhold donations until these promises are tangibly met by the college. 

This is especially true of demand one. The administration has committed to divesting from arms manufacturers only. It has yet to commit to divesting from all companies that profit from Israeli occupation and apartheid policies. This is not enough; thus we will continue to withhold donations until Middlebury College divests from war profiteering, as outlined by the current Middlebury Student Government Association Referendum.

We, the undersigned alumni of Middlebury College, Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS), Middlebury College Language Schools, Bread Loaf School of English and Bread Loaf Translators' Conference, express our deep and unwavering support for Middlebury students at the Middlebury Gaza Solidarity Encampment.

In the last six months, Israel’s latest assault on Gaza has killed nearly 35,000 Palestinians, including over 14,000 children. Israel is committing war crimes, using starvation as a weapon of war and intentionally targeting and destroying healthcare infrastructure in Gaza. 62% of homes have been destroyed, and Gaza has been made “uninhabitable." Most of Gaza's population has been displaced. After corralling 1.4 million people into a 25-square-mile “safe zone” in Rafah, Israel has been dropping bombs on tents there. The threat of ground invasion in Rafah looms as we write this.

There can be no “business as usual” during a genocide. Middlebury is complicit through its silence and lack of transparency regarding investments supporting Israel’s ongoing military campaign, occupation and apartheid policies. With nearly 90% of schools in Gaza destroyed and no universities left standing, we reflect on the power and privilege of our own institution. How can Middlebury claim to educate students to tackle “the world’s most challenging problems” when it remains silent on scholasticide and uses tuition dollars to fund a genocide?

We join students and alumni across the country in renewing our collective, urgent call for an end to our school’s silence and complicity, and for Palestinian liberation. We pledge to withhold all donations to Middlebury until it meets the following demands from the students at the Middlebury Gaza Solidarity Encampment.

Divestment & Financial Transparency: Divest the Middlebury endowment of all holdings in companies that profit from or engage in Israel’s ongoing military campaign, occupation and apartheid policies. Commit to full financial transparency on all its current and future investments.

Freedom of Expression and Protester Amnesty: As part of Middlebury’s commitment to free speech, enshrined in policy that faculty, students and staff are able to freely express support for Palestinian liberation without fear of institutional retaliation. Extend full amnesty to all protesters who have expressed themselves on Palestinian liberation. Commit to maintaining the employment of all college employees involved in pro-Palestinian political expression.

Academic & Cultural Boycott: End recruitment of unvetted professors through the Israel Institute. Refrain from any form of academic or cultural association with Israeli institutions and businesses, in line with the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. This boycott is of institutions, not individuals.

Palestinian Affiliations: Cultivate direct affiliations with Palestinian academic and cultural institutions without requiring them to partner with Israeli counterparts. Just like with students from other war-torn areas, commit to helping displaced Gazan students study at Middlebury.

End the Silence: End Middlebury College’s silence by releasing a public statement calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza and condemning Israel’s genocidal campaign against the Palestinian people.

Middlebury College has historically committed to withdrawing its finances from immoral investments, from divesting from apartheid in South Africa in 1986 to divesting from fossil fuels in 2018. Middlebury has also previously shown a commitment to tackling issues of violence, abuses of power, and injustice by establishing pedagogical initiatives like the Kathryn Wasserman Davis Collaborative in Conflict Transformation and the MIIS James Marten Center for Nonproliferation Studies. With these set precedents, we are confident that Middlebury will get back on the right side of history.

We stand with Middlebury students in their call and vision for a Middlebury that stands against genocide. We unequivocally support them as they put their bodies on the line for justice and for a free Palestine. To Middlebury College leadership: We are watching you as you move to uphold or deny the fundamental rights of your student body — and most importantly, to condemn or condone genocide.

We are signing this letter as alumni across varying faiths, ethnicities, nationalities and generations to urge Middlebury College to commit to their values of anti-racism and upholding justice. Until these demands are met, we, the undersigned, pledge to withhold all donations to Middlebury College. We stand with the Middlebury Gaza Solidarity Encampment. Free Palestine.

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