In many ways, culture is invisible; unless you squint your eyes to bring it into focus, it fades into the background. And it remains elusive precisely because it touches every aspect of our day-to-day lives: From jokes at the dinner table to the stickers we plaster over our laptops to the angles and curves of architectural design, culture lurks in every corner of social life. It shapes how we interact with others, what we consider to be aesthetic and which values we consider important in our communities. Culture instills a sense of normalcy — it’s what makes our world feel familiar. Because culture seems invisible, it doesn’t show up too often in the pages of our paper. Usually, we’re focused on the newsworthy, the immediate. But today, we’re stepping back and looking at the bigger picture, at what lies beneath, at the aspects of our lives that have always been there, unwritten. (Read the full Notes from the Desk here)
Use the fields below to perform an advanced search of The Middlebury Campus's archives. This will return articles, images, and multimedia relevant to your query.
45 items found for your search. If no results were found please broaden your search.
In many ways, culture is invisible; unless you squint your eyes to bring it into focus, it fades into the background. And it remains elusive precisely because it touches every aspect of our day-to-day lives: From jokes at the dinner table to the stickers we plaster over our laptops to the angles and curves of architectural design, culture lurks in every corner of social life. It shapes how we interact with others, what we consider to be aesthetic and which values we consider important in our communities. Culture instills a sense of normalcy — it’s what makes our world feel familiar. But more importantly, culture impacts people in tangible ways; structures of power are interwoven into cultural institutions and social organization — from gender roles to class hierarchies. And thus, culture plays a key role in determining who is listened to, what is legitimate and which groups receive outsized benefits and resources. Because culture seems invisible, it doesn’t show up too often in the pages of our paper. Usually, we’re focused on the newsworthy, the immediate. But today, we’re stepping back and looking at the bigger picture, at what lies beneath, at the aspects of our lives that have always been there, unwritten. While Nalgenes, skiing and general outdoorsy-ness might be the first things that spring to mind at the mention of “Middlebury culture,” they’re just the tip of the iceberg — the one that shapes everything from the spaces we occupy on campus to the institutional priorities that define our Middlebury experience. Middlebury’s culture is also shaped by the institution’s legacy as a historically exclusive, predominantly white establishment. For many, the most visible aspects of Middlebury culture — such as those centered around the outdoors and athletics — are inaccessible and othering. And just as some community traditions can play an important role in facilitating connection and relatedness, others can be exclusionary and inequitable. The pandemic has fundamentally altered life at Middlebury, and social life as we’ve known it has come to a grinding halt this year. But with that shock also comes an opportunity to reflect on culture at Middlebury: What are the traditions that represent the values of our community? What dynamics engender inequity and harm? And what are the new ways of living together that build respect and empathy? While culture can seem like a nebulous and immutable force, it is important not to forget that we all play an active part in shaping it. Culture is not a fixed object; it’s a process involving constant tweaks and changes that amount to consequential transformations over time. And its malleability is more evident now than ever as we move toward a post-pandemic world. At this cultural crossroads, we have the opportunity to be intentional in evaluating which traditions, values and ways of living and learning that we want to take with us into a post-Covid Middlebury — and we at The Campus hope that this special issue can be a starting point. Bochu Ding ’21 is the Editor in Chief of the Middlebury Campus.
“We don’t have a place here.” I looked up — mid-bite into my noodles — at my mom, whose matter-of-fact tone surprised me. She paused. “I don’t feel safe here,” she continued, more wistfully. “And it frightens me when you’re away.” It broke my heart then. But this past week, it’s broken my heart a lot more. I grew up on Lincoln and 19th in the Sunset District of San Francisco, where wisps of morning fog would tumble into the city at first light. The district is bounded by Golden Gate Park on one side and Ocean Beach on another. It is home to San Tung’s famous fried chicken wings, legions of boba shops and a good portion of San Francisco’s Asian-American community. It’s where the salon of a’yi stood — where I sat sobbing after I had lost my parents in the crowd as she ran out to find them; it’s where bobo worked as a waiter — at a restaurant where I’d get fortune cookies for tagging along during deliveries; it’s where shushu lived, in a house where we’d gather on Halloween each year before driving to affluent neighborhoods for trick-or-treating. Those memories flooded into my mind on Wednesday when I learned of the unconscionable murders that occurred in Atlanta. As more information about the victims rolled in, I could not shake the feeling that they could have easily been someone I knew. I pictured the heinous acts of hate befalling the people who guided me into adulthood — those who had cut my hair, who let me feed the fish in their restaurants, and whose hand-me-downs I wore to school. Soon Chung Park (박순정). Hyun Jung Grant ([김]현정). Suncha Kim (김순자). Yong Ae Yue (유용애). Xiaojie Tan (谭小洁). Daoyou Feng (冯道友). Delaina Ashley Yaun. Paul Andre Michels. Eight lives taken — six of whom were women of Asian descent. Those women were not just a set of nameless, faceless casualties. They were daughters and mothers, mentors and caretakers, leaders and advocates, lovers and dreamers. They had favorite dishes and small things that delighted them, songs and movies that made them laugh and cry, people they loved and people who loved them. They held onto their dreams and aspirations, celebrated their accomplishments and new beginnings, and suffered loss and pain. They deserved to feel safe — to be safe. And they deserved to know that they had as much of a right as anyone else to call this country their home. But it’s naive to pretend that the U.S. has ever been a welcoming — or even accepting — place for those of Asian descent. Anti-Asian discrimination and violence are deeply interwoven into the fabric of U.S. history — from immigration legislation that excluded those of Asian descent to the Chinese Massacre of 1871 to Japanese internment during World War II to the Watsonvillle Anti-Filipino riots to the recent rise of anti-Asian hate crimes amid the pandemic. And it won’t stop here, either. This hate and otherization isn’t new. Nor is it relegated to the annals of history or an abstract idea to be dissected in liberal arts classrooms. Two summers ago, I was riding the bus home when a man accosted my colleague and me, shouting a series of slurs and threatening to hurt us and several fellow Asian passengers including a small child. The situation continued to escalate, and as I looked around for support, I noticed that the driver and my fellow passengers refused to intervene — or even to make eye contact. After a tense standoff, the man exited the vehicle. Almost immediately, the once silent passengers began asking if we were alright and expressed their frustration with what happened. While I was grateful for their support, I could not help but feel a sense of rage and disappointment — what good are niceties and condolences if no one would step in to prevent harassment and potential violence? I got home, locked the door and sat down on the floor. I cried. The deluge of articles, tweets and comments following the shooting reminded me of the frustration I felt on that summer day. Why did it take the horrific deaths of six people to draw attention to the rise of anti-Asian sentiment and violence amid Covid-19 — even though advocacy and community organizations had been trying to garner attention for months? And are brutal murders necessary to validate and legitimize the veracity of the hate and discrimination targeting those of Asian descent — or those of any ethnic group — that have spanned centuries? These questions have bombarded my thoughts in the past week. And this past Sunday, I finally decided to call my mom — whose reservations about our place in the U.S. have always stood in stark contrast to my attachment to my Asian-American identity. Our conversation drifted, eventually landing on the shooting in Atlanta. I told her that the senseless murders saddened me and braced for her response, expecting her to voice her concerns about the U.S. She paused. “There are too many things in this world that will bring you sadness and pain,” she said. “I just want you to be happy.” And it broke my heart all over again. Bochu Ding ’21 is the Editor in Chief of The Campus.
Unprecedented. Challenging. Uncertain. These words have become staples in the past year — so prominent and ubiquitous that they have almost lost their meaning. But, in truth, this year has been all of those things. Some of us continue to grapple with the lasting pain of losing a loved one. Others are mourning the disappearance of the small things that color our days — impromptu visits, warm embraces and shared meals. Some have said goodbye to their families and left their homes for an indefinite amount of time; others are still separated from their loved ones and unable to return. For some, the pandemic has laid bare the structural inequities that engender violence and marginalization; for others, these injustices were — and continue to be — inseparable from their lived experience. But for the first time in a long time, it feels as if an end to the pandemic is perhaps in sight. Covid-19 cases have finally started to decline, and the latest vaccine news predicts that most Americans will have access this spring. Many of us wonder if next fall will be a semester like the ones we remember from before. As we approach what seems to be the light at the end of the tunnel, we should also remember some of the other words that rose to prominence in the past year: change, commitment and justice. These words remind us of the collective actions we took to keep each other safe and our dedication to building kinder, more equitable communities. As we venture into our “new normal,” let’s not leave them behind.
This election season, the stakes are higher than ever before. Four years ago, the horrors of a Trump presidency were yet to be realized. Now, we are living them. Public trust in government is rapidly eroding while peoples’ fundamental liberties are being — or have been — taken away from them. Our democracy is on the line. While the outcome of the upcoming election is uncertain, we have been inspired time and time again by this community’s political engagement, solidarity and resilience in the face of adversity. This is why we’re publishing an election issue. The U.S. has suffered in the hands of an incompetent, intentionally negligent and often malicious administration. More than 200,000 Americans have died of Covid-19 — a disproportionate number being Black and Latinx. Poor management of the pandemic spelled economic devastation for communities across the nation, as workers are plunged into financial instability and businesses shutter their doors. An unprecedented number of environmental protection regulations have been undone and climate change science disregarded. And as protests against police brutality and racial injustice have unfolded across the country, Trump has refused to denounce white supremacist organizations. The ripples of these national tragedies are also felt in Middlebury. Politics has permeated every part of our world — and every part of our newspaper. Our election issue spans all five of our sections, from sports coverage of athlete voter registration and the surprising relationship between college football and the election, to coverage of local Vermont races, to opinions about the role of politics in dating and making Nov. 3 a school holiday. You’ll find news about how the mail center handles absentee ballots, how some professors choose to (or choose not to) bring activism into their classrooms and how students who are not eligible to vote in U.S. elections are making a difference. We have an elections forecast, a podcast about the intersection of athletics and politics and a dozen more stories that endeavor to capture the momentous and far-reaching impact of this election on each and every student, state and community. Unlike in past elections, the majority of you have likely already voted by absentee ballot. For those of you who didn’t or couldn’t vote elsewhere, make use of our guide for in-person voting in Middlebury, which is an option for all students who can vote in the U.S., or use MiddVote’s resources for voting in Vermont. Even if you are someone who cannot vote in this election, we encourage you to vocalize your concerns and mobilize those around you to participate. Thank you to everyone who wrote and edited for, contributed to and was interviewed for this issue — we hope that through these stories, you see the ways that this election has touched every part of life and fundamentally reshaped our relationships to politics. Thank you for reading, and thank you for caring. So much is at stake. Bochu Ding ’21, Hattie LeFavour ’21 and Riley Board ’22 comprise The Campus’ executive team. Nora Peachin ’21 is the Senior Local Editor. LeFavour and Peachin oversaw the creation and coverage of the issue.
This is a developing story and will be updated accordingly. Middlebury expects to invite most students back for an on campus fall semester; September 8 will be the first day of class and the first batch of returning students will arrive on August 18 Students will be required to quarantine before their return and the college will test all students upon arrival Professors can decide to offer their courses in an in-person, remote or hybrid capacity, and the college expects approximately one-third of classes to be conducted online Student access cards will only open the residence that they live in, and the academic buildings they need to access Staff who can work from home will likely continue to do so, while those who work closely with students must receive approval to return to campus Parties and gatherings must not exceed a 25-person limit and must take place where physical distancing is possible Middlebury will reopen its campus to students, faculty and staff in the fall with certain precautions, according to a copy of the college announcement shared with The Campus. The College plans to welcome students back, with classes beginning on September 8 for a 12-week semester, which will continue without interruption until Thanksgiving Break, before a transition to remote learning. The cost of attendance remains unchanged. With the removal of October Break, November 20 will be the last day of in-person classes. Students will not be allowed to return to campus, with classes and exams following Thanksgiving break held in a remote capacity. The statuses of J-term and the spring semester remain unclear. Students will be required to quarantine before and after they return to campus, and will be tested for Covid-19 upon their arrival in Middlebury. Students will return at staggered start times, and will have to begin quarantining 14 days prior to their planned arrival date; they will be expected to maintain safe practices during their travel to campus. There will be three start times: First@Midd peer leaders, ISSS PALS and other student leaders will arrive August 18; new students, transfers, international students and fall athletes (if athletics are approved) will arrive August 26; the remaining students will be permitted to return on August 28. While many classes will be offered in-person, others will be offered remotely or in a hybrid capacity, even as students live on campus. The college expects roughly a third of classes — approximately 175 of 530 courses — to be taught remotely. Professors will have the opportunity to choose whether they teach online, in-person or using a combination of the two. Students will be informed of which courses are offered in which format before course registration. Students will be tested for Covid-19 upon their arrival on campus, and again after seven days. They will have to remain in isolation in their rooms for roughly 24 hours until results are available — and will only be allowed to leave to use the bathroom, to collect meals from a delivery point and in the case of medical emergencies. If students test negative, they will then be ‘quarantined’ to campus, and can move about while following safety protocols. Off-campus students will quarantine in their off-campus housing. Students who test positive will be isolated in Munford House and be monitored by health professionals. Students and staff will have to adhere to a variety of health protocols throughout the semester as well, including undergoing Covid-19 symptom pre-screening each day and wearing face coverings whenever possible. The college is planning to provide cloth face coverings for all students. The announcement mentions that students will live in singles and doubles, but that the school, “will share more information with students about room draw and housing accommodations in a separate communication.” Student access cards will only open the residence that students live in, and the academic buildings they need access. Students who live in off-campus residences must adhere to the same guidelines as those who live on campus. Middlebury plans to increase its capacity for mental health services including counseling as well as nutritional, medical and psychiatric services by contracting with a telehealth company which will aid students both on and off campus. Dining will progress in three phases, the first of which requires that each student be assigned to one dining hall and provided with to-go meals only. While indoor seating will be prohibited, there will be limited outdoor tent space in some areas. Each dining hall will have the same menu and abide by a one-way traffic format, and all meals will be prepared by dining staff. The announcement includes initial restrictions and monitoring of off-campus travel, for which guidelines are being developed and will vary depending on the travel destination. On-campus speakers and visitors will also be severely limited — if they are permitted at all — and required to abide by both college and state health guidelines. Students will not be allowed to have any personal guests, except for a single person who will be allowed to assist them at move-in. The announcement notes that the college, “will not be able to organize large-scale events in person,” although more specific announcements about dining, fitness and other activities and events will be released later in the summer. The school will also continue to make announcements about the status of sports and extracurricular activities through the summer. As for parties, “At present … group gatherings of up to 25 people are permitted, though this could change at any time. Any such gatherings must be scheduled in spaces large enough to allow adequate physical distancing.” Off-campus travel to the town of Middlebury, trails, lakes and other destinations will be prohibited until all students have completed the first two rounds of testing, after which restrictions may be relaxed depending on student behavior. While staff who are able to work from home will continue to do so, those whose work is better completed on campus will undergo an approval process to work in modified, socially distant office spaces. Bowdoin, one of Middlebury’s peers, announced earlier today that the college will open its doors in the fall, but only to certain students — first-years, transfer students, residential life staff and senior honors students who require Bowdoin’s facilities to complete their projects. Almost all classes will be taught in a remote capacity. Students who take a voluntary leave of absence will need to seek readmission to continue their studies at Bowdoin. Although Middlebury does not expect to have to evacuate students mid-semester, Vermont health guidelines maintain that all students should be prepared to evacuate or go into lockdown at any time. Students, both returning and newly admitted, will now have until July 6, two weeks from today, to make a decision about whether they want to take a leave of absence. While Middlebury maintains that those who choose to do so will be welcomed back, their return date may be restricted by housing limitations. Students will receive a full refund as long as they withdraw before the semester begins.
The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers and the other acts of cruelty and merciless killing we have seen are but a sliver of the full scope of the systemic and constant violence that Black Americans face — and have faced throughout history. Black Americans continue to be the target of a carnage characterized by impunity, which includes the recent death of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and the still-unprosecuted death of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, among countless others. Before anything else, we are all forced to ask ourselves what role we play in perpetuating a system that leaves room for such injustices. These reflections are not meant to be comfortable. They are not meant to be stagnant. To be anti-racist is not an achieved state of being, but rather a commitment to fighting complacency in your every motion. As a media outlet dedicated to informing the Middlebury community and uplifting its voices, we have a responsibility to engage in this fight with everything we publish. We recognize dissatisfaction with national media coverage of the ongoing protests and cases of violence against Black communities, and we have our own frustrations about which protests and events are covered — and how. Peaceful protests aren’t sensational, but they matter. And when news outlets gratuitously cover violence, looting and rioting while neglecting to thoroughly document peaceful demonstrations and the messages behind current movements, they lose deeply important context about what is happening in America right now. Even worse, they contribute to an inherently negative framing of protestors and obfuscate the intentions of protest movements. To meet our standards of reporting, we commit to coverage of protests that is multifaceted and message-focused. We have a commitment to the truth, but truthful narratives hinge upon those who get to speak them. This involves actively seeking the sources that matter most when it comes to telling those stories. Right now, it requires amplifying the voices of the Black community in our coverage, especially when it comes to Black-led national and campus initiatives, activism and protests. Furthermore, the violence against protestors calls for a reevaluation of the conventional standards of journalism. While the purpose of photos is to document events, we recognize that they can be weaponized by police forces — and that Black and Brown protestors are particularly vulnerable. Thus, going forward, we plan to prioritize the safety of protestors by omitting photos of Black Lives Matter and related protests that can be used to identify individuals easily. But police brutality only scratches the surface of the institutional racism deeply entrenched in American society — one underpinned by political and economic structures that disenfranchise Black Americans and other people of color. These structures of marginalization are pervasive — and their existence at Middlebury is no exception. More importantly, they will persist long after protests leave the news cycle and Instagram stories sharing anti-racism resources expire. Not long ago, The Campus had also been an institution that played a role in perpetuating these inequalities at Middlebury. Only four years ago — in 2016 — a group of cultural organizations sent an email to the entire student body condemning The Campus for failing Middlebury’s marginalized communities. Organizations have a responsibility to address internal racism and bias — and The Campus is no different. We recognize that we as an organization, and as a platform, can do more to uplift the voices that often go unheard. As we begin our summer coverage, we invite you to point us in the right direction, inform us of the gaps in our coverage and share your perspectives with us. The burden of making our coverage more inclusive also shouldn’t lie solely with underrepresented communities. In the coming weeks, we plan to reach out to the leaders of cultural organizations in an effort to begin dialogues that we hope will continue throughout the school year — and beyond. We also welcome you to share with us other proactive measures we can take. The Campus is meant to serve as a forum for all voices — and not just in the Opinion section. While we encourage op-ed submissions from the student body at all times, there is space for your voice on every page. The Campus invites new writers and reporters to join any section, whether in News, Local, Arts & Culture or Sports. But we also welcome you to submit a letter to the editor, where we hope you will speak out against anything you feel we did wrong, missed or need to improve upon. As a publication, we must continue to recognize that anti-racism is not a status that is conferred. Rather, it’s a series of deliberate decisions that we must make every day and consider with each issue we publish. We hope you’ll hold us accountable. Bochu Ding ’21, Hattie LeFavour ’21 and Riley Board ’22 comprise The Campus’ executive team.
You heard it here first: this is an unprecedented time. Under normal circumstances, we would have packed up our belongings and departed Middlebury knowing that it would await us come fall. Our graduating seniors would have been seated on the grassy field — probably hungover — celebrating the culmination of their four years at Middlebury. We at The Campus would have said goodbye to our office in the Hepburn basement and begun our summer hiatus. All of these things — and much, much more — that we once took for granted are now colored with uncertainty. And while the catchphrase “unprecedented time” has become hackneyed, our current predicament calls for transparency, information and connection more than ever before. This is why The Campus is extending our coverage through the summer. Our goal is to investigate the questions that we’re asking as a community, whether they relate to the international students remaining on campus, the perceptions of stay-at-home orders in local communities or even who the commencement speaker will be for the class of 2020. Although we will be reducing our weekly batch of 10–15 articles to 3–5 pieces, we will continue to ask the unresolved questions that hang in the air: How will the fall semester take shape in the face of Covid-19 uncertainties? What — and who — will the college prioritize as its financial burdens compound? How will the economic downturn impact local businesses in Middlebury? Our objective is also to remain as a forum — a shared digital space — for the community when we are scattered across the nation and around the world. We plan to continue the Off-Campus Project, our remote story-telling initiative, this summer, and invite you to participate in sharing a vignette or two of your life amid the pandemic. Recently, we’ve partnered with the Engaged Listening Project to launch the Off-Campus Project podcast, a series exploring day-to-day life amid the pandemic. Our editors have several episodes planned for the summer, so we hope you will listen in. Our work is both for and made possible by readers like yourself. As we plan for our coverage of the following months, please tell us what you want to see covered by dropping us a tip. We also hope you’ll continue to engage with our projects, such as our recent Covid-19 survey soliciting students’ perspectives on the spring semester, plans for the summer and expectations for the fall. We will be releasing the results of that survey later next week. You can also tell us what’s on your mind during this time by submitting an op-ed, whether it’s about the upcoming elections, remote-learning or mom’s banana bread. Trying times call for trying new measures. As we all embark on an “unprecedented” summer, we at The Campus are looking forward to navigating these uncharted territories alongside you. Bochu Ding ’21 is the editor in chief of The Campus.
During Preview Days every year, The Campus invites prospective students in to chat about what it is we do in our subterranean Hepburn Hall office. We like to tell prospective students at that event what we worked on that year to give them a sense of how we cover our college community. We’ve tried to replicate that conversation, electronically, below. We always joke at The Campus that each year brings with it its own spring scandal. For seniors graduating in May, their first spring scandal was also perhaps the most significant in the college’s recent history: Charles Murray’s infamous 2017 visit to Middlebury sparked acrimonious debate about free speech and inclusion, leaving behind deep scars that the community continues to grapple with today. This spring, which marks the final semester for the same seniors who witnessed the events of Murray’s first visit unfold, The Campus braced for his return. After breaking his invitation to campus by the Young Republicans, our editorial board expected Murray’s third visit to be the defining moment of this academic year. And boy, were we wrong. On March 10, the college announced the cancellation of in-person classes in response to a rapidly unfolding Covid-19 crisis. As we traversed across the country and around the globe, we wondered how The Campus — along with everything else — would change. As we wrote in our notes from the desk, we found it critically important to continue our coverage from home. That decision has been a defining moment in our year as student journalists. The Campus continued our coverage from afar, reporting on changes to the grading policy, the struggles of local businesses and the lives of students who remain on campus. We launched The Middlebury Off-Campus project, a collection of stories from the wider Middlebury community, hoping to connect us when we are the furthest apart physically. The recent Love Issue put all the breaking news and the end of the world on a brief hiatus, bringing levity in a time when we all need a little bit of love. While on campus, our stories have also shaped the conversations we’ve had as a community and, in many cases, pushed for and inspired change. Diligent reporting of unionization efforts and custodial shortages turned the spotlight on staff wages, culminating in the college’s promise to increase compensation for certain staff. Poignant opinion pieces, such as one student’s essay on her struggle with eating disorders, encouraged us to talk about topics that are oftentimes considered taboo. An editor’s repeated reporting on on-campus vandalism provoked year-long conversations about the treatment of our campus. This year, we editorialized on cancel culture and the role of this paper amid tightening constraints on college journalists. We interviewed a Middlebury alumna who found herself at the center of the #MeToo movement and covered protests of New England’s biggest coal power plant. We also published a litany of sports features about Middlebury’s athletic community. We tried to push the creative boundaries of our paper, from the annotated map of campus from our first issue of the year to the inclusion of more artwork to accompany our opinion pieces. On campus, our arts reporters covered student productions and exhibits; now, they are keeping us sane in quarantine with book and movie recommendations. We have also striven to cover the diverse interests that make our community so vibrant — from the Ultimate Frisbee club’s bizarre traditions to the Museum of Art’s recent acquisition of ancient Chinese gold. And we expanded our scope to explore unique narratives that were oftentimes neglected, such as stories of queer love set against the backdrop of rural Vermont. Even this spring, as coronavirus news has been at the forefront of everyone’s minds, we sought to explore the stories beneath the surface, from an article about professors’ children intruding on Zoom sessions to a commentary on a world without sports. When we reconvene on campus and meet many of you for the first time, we hope you will join us in telling the stories that you care about. Bochu Ding ’21 is one of The Campus’ managing editors and next year’s editor in chief elect.
The college will not alter its current opt-in Pass/D/Fail grading policy after student groups called for changes to the existing guidelines, but will extend the deadline to invoke the option to May 8, according to an email sent to students by Provost Jeff Cason, Dean of Faculty Sujata Moorti and Dean of Curriculum Suzanne Gurland. The updated policy also establishes an extended window from May 9 to May 15 during which students may revoke Pass/D/Fail. Previously, students had until May 1 to declare the option and could not retract their decision. The college will add a memo to students’ transcripts, indicating that a grade of “P” is not reflective of diminished academic rigor, but “should be interpreted as a reasonable response to these extraordinary circumstances.” The announcement follows a heated debate between opposing #OptInMidd and #FairGradesMidd platforms, among others. On Tuesday, the Student Government Association (SGA) sent out a survey asking students to indicate their preferred grading model. The survey received 1,843 responses, with 59.2% of respondents indicating the Dual A model as their first choice. Universal pass/fail followed, comprising 22.4% of respondents’ first choice and opt-in pass/fail 18.4%. An overwhelming majority — 93.8% — of students also supported extending the deadline to invoke Pass/D/Fail so that students could make a decision after professors released spring semester grades (in the event that the college upholds its opt-in Pass/D/Fail system). SGA president Varsha Vijayakumar ’20 said in a text to The Campus that, to the best of her knowledge, the SGA had yet to share the survey data with administrators. Before reaching their decision, administrators considered the arguments of both campaigns, individual students and faculty members, according to the email. The decision was also informed by conversations with individuals from the health professions office, elected faculty committees, registrar’s office and peer schools. The college maintained its current policy on the grounds that proposed solutions were either inadequately compelling or introduced new issues. “Each time we considered a potential change to the announced policy, we either weren’t convinced it actually did a better job of achieving equity and fairness, or found that it would create a different, even worse problem,” the email read. Students can invoke Pass/D/Fail using this form provided by the registrar’s office.
The college offered a total of 2,228 students admission to its class of 2024, comprising 24% of the 9,165 students who applied, according to Dean of Admissions Nicole Curvin. The overall admissions rate saw a major uptick from last year’s 16% — an eight-percentage-point difference. 21.5% of applicants received offers in the regular decision round, representing 1,836 of an applicant pool of 8,522. They join the 392 students accepted in the early decision I and II rounds, 30 of whom are Posse Scholars from Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. Bowdoin College, one of Middlebury’s peer schools, reported an all-time low regular decision acceptance rate of 8.3%. Students of color made up 38% of those admitted and international students 10.5%. Accepted students hail from 65 countries and 49 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. 15.5% of accepted students will be the first to attend college in their families. The applicant pool was the third-largest in college history, falling short of record-breaking numbers for the classes of 2022 and 2023. More than a quarter of applicants were students of color and international students constituted just shy of another quarter, matching last year’s record levels. The office anticipates a total enrollment of 725–740 for the class of 2024, with 615–630 September enrollees and 110 February enrollees. The unprecedented nature of the Covid-19 crisis made yield projections unreliable, since the college was unsure how the pandemic might influence the number of students who would accept their spots, according to Curvin in a previous interview with The Campus. “We’re doing our best to account for any sort of fluctuation that we might experience this year,” Curvin said. Correction: An earlier version of this story reported an 8% increase in the acceptance rate, instead of an eight-percentage-point increase.
Almost every year, the college Newsroom lauds the Admissions Office for welcoming the most diverse class ever. The percentage of international students, students of color and Pell Grant recipients remain key highlights in each year’s announcement. This emphasis does not come as a surprise: diversity in backgrounds and perspectives enriches our academic experience, exposing us to new ways of understanding the world and informs us of the challenges — and triumphs — that communities beyond our own experience. At Middlebury, we pride ourselves on being a diverse, inclusive community. But we cannot reap the benefits of diversity without recognizing — and tending to — the discrepancies in need that accompanies that diversity. Drastic socio-economic stratifications exist within Middlebury’s community; these gaps only widen in crises such as the current pandemic, when students can no longer access the resources the college provides. For some students, having a stable internet connection, a quiet place to work, and the headspace to prioritize academics is a given. For others, these represent luxuries. Some students, scattered around the world, are no longer able to access class in realtime. For others, employment and health insurance have become new priorities as household income is rendered intermittent due to Covid-19-related layoffs. It is in these vastly different environments that Middlebury students will not only continue their learning, but be evaluated this semester. The current opt-in Pass/D/Fail system presents an illusion of choice. Students with economic advantages have the benefit of choosing whether or not they want to invoke Pass/D/Fail. But this choice is often out of reach for students who lack access to stable internet, study spaces and financial and housing security. Let’s say Bob and Amy are two students who perform equally well in their studies. Bob has his own room at home, reliable internet and does not have to worry about financial security. Amy, on the other hand, has to share a room with her parents and siblings and works part-time because her parents were laid off. At the end of the day, Amy must either accept a grade that does not reflect her academic potential or choose to invoke Pass/D/Fail as a result of her circumstances. Bob’s decision to invoke Pass/D/Fail, however, hinges solely on considerations about his academic performance. Facing future employers, Bob can claim that he chose a conventional grade in spite of difficulties introduced by the pandemic. In an ideal world, Amy would have done the same — and yet her circumstances preclude her from doing so. In some cases, being forced to invoke Pass/D/Fail is not even the worst case scenario. Let’s add a further provision: say Amy is a medical student. Since graduate schools such as Harvard Medical School announced that they won’t accept pass/fail grading schemes unless the academic institution only awards pass/fail credits during this semester, Amy will have to report a grade adversely impacted by circumstances beyond her control. This is merely one example of the inequalities created and exacerbated by the college's current opt-in system. This is the inequality that universal Pass/D/Fail seeks to amend. By endorsing said model, Middlebury upholds its commitment to an equitable learning environment for every student. Removing the option to choose between the two grading schemes allows the college to relieve underprivileged and underrepresented students of the burden and pressure to take a class for a grade even if their circumstances do not permit it — most often at the expense of their mental and physical health. Middlebury also wields considerable institutional power. By adopting a universal Pass/D/Fail system, Middlebury introduces a sense of legitimacy should any student need to explain to an employer or graduate school admissions committee why they received passing grades instead of A's or B's. Other critics of the opt-in system have suggested alternatives, such as the double A proposal first put forward by students at Harvard. However, this system creates an artificial dichotomy between “good” and “subpar” work, as represented by the “A” and “A-” grade. As a result, those who lack resources will likely find themselves relegated to the “A-” category simply as a result of a discrepancy in resources. Grades serve as a metric that evaluates the quality of learning. But learning is a process — and if that process is no longer relatively equitable, then grades lose their validity and meaning. Instead of indicating academic performance and potential, they reflect a stratification of means. The universal Pass/D/Fail system presents us with the opportunity to advocate for a level playing field and uplift those who are most vulnerable. And more than ever, we have the obligation to show with our actions that our commitment to diversity and inclusion isn’t just to include them in an admissions brochure. The ball is in your court, Middlebury. Signed, Bochu Ding ’21 Ariadne Will ’22 Caroline Kapp ’21 Hattie LeFavour ’21 Jack Kagan ’20 Lily Laesch ‘23 Rain Ji ’23 Soph Charron ‘22 The above signatories are all editors for The Campus.
We had three Covid-19-related stories on the docket a week and a half ago. Now, it’s hard to think about — and report on — almost anything else. A lot has changed since then. We’ve since shared goodbyes, packed up our commons-office-provided boxes and dispersed around the world. Some watched their friends leave, unable to return to their own homes themselves. Some of us worried about work-study; others grappled with food insecurity. As the dust settles, so many questions linger: What will online classes look like? What are the implications of the suspension for the town of Middlebury? Will the college provide its staff with financial security as operations come to a grinding halt? The Campus is committed to continuing our investigation into these questions — and the coverage of the diverse narratives of our greater Middlebury community. Amid the ambiguity and uncertainty of current events, we want to provide a sense of clarity. And during a time when we are the furthest apart physically, we want to be a platform that helps Middlebury stay connected. What can you expect from us? The show must go on. The Campus will continue its coverage remotely, online. We will publish stories as they are ready this and next week, and will re-assume regular Thursday coverage on April 2, the first Thursday after spring break. Our weekly newsletter will also highlight the key stories from the week, so don’t forget to sign up for it here. That newsletter will start back up on April 2 as well. We see ourselves as a forum to amplify voices that can no longer chat around dining hall tables, greet each other between classes and convene at local coffee shops and teahouses in town. As we scatter geographically, we want to explore what remoteness means for the different members of our community. This is work we cannot do alone. Here are some ways to get involved: Help us with coverage: Let us know if you’re interested in joining our team of writers — no prior experience necessary and the commitment is flexible. Express your opinion: Tell us what you’re thinking by submitting an opinion piece or a letter to the editor. Keep us in the loop: Know something that’s going on or want us to explore a certain topic? Drop us a tip. Tell your story: We want to fill our (virtual) pages with stories from every corner of the now-dispersed Middlebury. Send us a short story about your experience, or email us if you’re interested in contributing regularly with tales from your living room couch, quarantined city or quiet dorm room. We will have prompts regularly for potential letters to the editor (200 words) and op-eds (800 words). This week’s prompt is about all the feels that came with last week’s announcement. Our mission is to serve our readers and to reflect the goings-on and spirit of the college in this extraordinary time, so please stay in touch. We are looking forward to seeing you engage with — and participate in — our coverage this semester.
Middlebury students can invoke the Pass/D/Fail option for as many courses as they choose once classes resume remotely on March 30, according to an email sent to students by Provost Jeff Cason and Dean of the Faculty Sujata Moorti on Monday night. The college will suspend all normal Pass/D/Fail restrictions during the spring semester, meaning any course declared Pass/D/Fail this spring will still count towards major, minor and distribution requirements. In addition, such classes will not count towards the two Pass/D/Fail courses students are typically allowed, or the limit of five classes that have non-standard grading. Students have until May 1 to request the Pass/D/Fail option for any course, only 10 days before classes end for the semester. Once declared, though, students will not be able to revoke their decision. [democracy id="7"] Regardless of grading status, professors are expected to report letter grades for all students. All grades above C- will automatically convert to P for those who invoke the option. “These discussions were spurred by student and faculty emails as well as our desire to acknowledge the radically new teaching and learning experience we are going to traverse,” Moorti said to The Campus in an email. “We consulted as well with peer institutions on how they were addressing similar concerns.” Some schools, such as MIT, have implemented a school-wide pass/fail system. Instead, the college is giving students the option to opt in because many students — including those applying to fellowships, graduate programs and jobs — still wanted regular grades, according to Moorti. Sophie Smith ’21, a Molecular Biology and Biochemistry major, said she is not considering the Pass/D/Fail option for this reason. “As a pre-med student, there is a heavy emphasis placed on grades and GPA during the application process,” she said. The Health Professions team at the Center for Careers and Internships was unable to offer guidance to students on how such a grading system would play out during the medical school application process. “The short answer is that we don’t know, as the conversations between pre-health advisors and health professions programs are just beginning,” an email to Health Professions students read. Smith said she would not take advantage of the Pass/D/Fail option unless there was a certain response from the team that it would not impact the application process. Claire Cousineau ’20.5, a Chinese major, is unsure how or whether she will utilize the Pass/D/Fail option, but said that the option itself will relieve pressure during a stressful time for students. “This is an intense situation and having the pressure taken off to perform under extreme stress and uncertainty is a huge relief,” Cousineau said. Nick Smith ’23, who is undeclared but leaning toward a major in music, said he is considering taking multiple classes Pass/D/Fail, depending on how the semester goes. “I’m planning on taking at least one, since I missed some deadlines last week because I wanted to be with friends,” Smith said. “I might do it for others too if the classes are hard to learn online.” On Tuesday, the Registrar’s Office sent an email to all students with an electronic form to declare Pass/D/Fail. Cason and Moorti also recommended to faculty that coursework continue asynchronously as students disperse across the country and around the world. It also pointed students to a resource page for transitioning to online learning prepared by the office of Digital Learning and Inquiry (DLINQ) set to go live in the next few days. The college arrived at these decisions in working with an ad hoc academic continuity group, according to an email sent to faculty. In addition to Cason and Moorti, the body comprises faculty administrators LeRoy Graham, associate provost for planning, and Amy Collier, associate provost for digital learning as well as elected representatives Rick Bunt and Joyce Mao from Faculty Council, Suzanne Gurland from the Educational Affairs Committee (EAC), Michelle McCauley from the Strategy Committee, and Daniel Silva from the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. This is a developing story and will be updated accordingly. Managing Editor James Finn ’20.5 contributed reporting. Note to readers: We want to hear about your experiences with online classes, especially labs, performance-based courses and other classes that might be virtually challenging. Send your stories and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPDATE — Thursday, March 12 The college is now allowing students to stay until Sunday, March 15 at 5:00 p.m., according to an email sent to students and parents yesterday. Students who wish to stay until then, but have already indicated to the school they will leave on or before Friday, should fill out this form indicating their plans. The email also promised students who are leaving refunds for room and board "for the time students would have been on campus." "Understanding that students may be returning to campus to finish the semester, we cannot at this time know the amount of the credit or when it will be applied to student accounts," it said. —— Wednesday, March 11 The college released a series of statements Tuesday afternoon elaborating on next steps following its announcement that it will suspend in-person classes indefinitely after March 13. Evacuating campus Students must respond to a form indicating whether they will leave campus or petition to remain on campus for the duration of the semester. The criteria used to determine who can stay on campus will be stricter than for winter break, according to Baishakhi Taylor, vice president for student affairs and dean of students. To gauge whether it is unsafe for a student to return home, the college will consider factors such as travel advisories for those areas. “This is preventative — we want students in safety sooner rather than later,” said Baishakhi Taylor, vice president for student affairs and dean of students. Dean of Faculty Sujata Moorti and Provost and Executive Vice President Jeffrey Cason have recommended that professors lighten the workload for their classes as students prepare to leave campus. But the decision ultimately rests in the hands of faculty members. Middlebury students are required to leave campus by Friday at 8 p.m. Amherst College, which yesterday announced a similar plan to suspend classes and asked students to remain home after spring break, is giving students until next Wednesday to depart campus. While departing students will not be required to fully move out of their dorm rooms by Friday night, all of their belongings must be packed in boxes and labeled with their name, student ID number and their building name and room number. Boxing materials can be found in Commons Offices. Posters are plastered around campus with the slogan “Box, label & leave.” Students are encouraged to pack whatever belongings they might need for the remainder of the semester and summer. The college is currently working with SGA to provide break buses to students. The details are still uncertain, but the college will update students as necessary. The college will also provide eligible students with travel-based financial assistance. [gallery ids="48987,48988,48989"] Remote learning Remote learning, beginning on March 30, will remain in effect until the administration gives further notice. Middlebury will re-evaluate the status of remote learning during the first two weeks of April. Moorti has confirmed that classes will end as scheduled on May 11 and professors will adjust their syllabi to accommodate the shortened semester. While some classes are easily transferable to a digital platform, others will be more challenging to shift. Amy Collier, associate provost for digital learning, will be overseeing the remote learning process. Collier cited the unique challenges posed by teaching classes such as language courses and lab sciences remotely. “We are recognizing that there are some kinds of remote teaching and learning options that are more challenging for faculty and some remote teaching options that are more challenging for students,” Collier said. Collier is working with faculty on a case-by-case basis to assist professors in translating their classes to a format that will work for both faculty and students. “We're trying to make recommendations based on what we hope will be very inclusive for students and very manageable for faculty and students and that respond to the teaching goals the faculty are bringing to us,” Collier said. Moorti explained that the college is considering the possibility of making all classes pass/fail for the remainder of the semester, in response to requests from students and faculty members. “We are looking into the implications, which are more complicated than they appear,” she said. Making the call Consultation with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Vermont Department of Health informed the college’s decision to suspend classes, according to Taylor. She explained that a myriad of factors — including the inability to control who comes to campus and concerns about students returning from traveling over spring break — impacted the school’s decision. “We just don't have the capacity — we cannot wait for a case to break on campus because then it's too late in many ways and we are a small school with limited resources,” Taylor said. “The state of Vermont is pretty small. We just don't have the capacity to have testing for everybody and we don't have enough personal protective equipment.” The Crisis Management Team (CMT) oversees the evolving planning related to Covid-19. The group comprises a variety of stakeholders on campus including Collier, members of the Senior Leadership Group (SLG) and Mark Peluso, director of health services and college and head team physician, among others. Peluso explained that the college’s decision to suspend in part hinged on a policy of what he called “social distancing.” “Social distancing is one of the most effective mitigation strategies when pharmaceutical treatments (vaccines, medications) are not available and there is the potential for high numbers of cases,” Peluso wrote in an email to The Campus. “Close living quarters and shared dining facilities place students at higher risk for exposure if there is an illness outbreak This is a developing story and will be updated accordingly. The Campus will also continue to chart the impact these changes have on the greater Middlebury community over the next few weeks, including how they affect staff, local business owners, and those at the Monterey campus and the C.V. Starr Schools Abroad. Visit middleburycampus.com for updated coverage.
The following was submitted to the NYT as a Letter to the Editor. To the Editor: Words cannot express the disappointment I felt when I saw that The Times chose to feature an image of Chinatown in Flushing, New York alongside its breaking story about a Manhattan woman who contracted the coronavirus after returning from Iran. There is no connection between Chinatown and Manhattan — nor Iran — except for the fact that the first case of the coronavirus appeared in China and the emergence of an accepted narrative that the carriers of the virus are Asians. For many Asians and Asian-Americans such as myself, The Times represented a platform that told our story — one that is nuanced, complex and above all, human. We had confidence in The Times that it would do its due diligence to look beyond the black and white to find the gray, to tell our story accurately, and to do so without bias. That trust has been violated. The Times commands the attention of hundreds and thousands of eyes, wielding a powerful force — one that can be used to dispel racist and xenophobic agendas or permit, enable, and endorse them. Whether intentionally or not, the Times has dehumanized a community in its weakest moments, feeding into toxic, misleading, and fantastically inaccurate narratives that enable and justify racism and xenophobia. If The Times is true to its mission to “seek the truth and help people understand the world,” then it must seek truth by looking behind the curtain of its own biases and evaluate whose world it is helping whom understand. Bochu Ding ’21 is a Managing Editor for The Campus.
For updates on the situation at Middlebury, check here. For updates on the situation at Monterey and at the Middlebury programs abroad, check here. President Laurie Patton confirmed Tuesday afternoon that students will be required to leave campus on Friday, March 13 to begin an extended two-week spring break in response to the Covid-19 viral epidemic. Following this break, Middlebury will begin remote classes on March 30. Students will be expected not to return to campus “until further notice,” according to Patton’s statement. Students who may be compromised due to additional health conditions are permitted to leave campus before Friday. Those who cannot leave campus — such as some international students and domestic students who will be at a greater risk in their home community — can petition the school to remain on campus, where they will also resume courses digitally. All students must indicate to the college their intentions to depart or petition to remain on campus. Students who wish to remain on campus must complete the form before 3 p.m. on Thursday, and will be notified of a decision before 9 a.m. on Friday. The announcement outlines a myriad of other stipulations for the coming weeks. The Campus will continue to update our coverage online as necessary.
“Would you support the construction of a swirly slide inside the Great Hall of Bicentennial Hall? We're talking a 6-story curling slide that has entry points on all floors and ends on the second floor, open for use after 5 p.m. on weekdays and all weekend, or whatever else we can secure as a compromise.” This was our favorite suggested question for the Zeitgeist survey — and one of over one hundred questions that were submitted when we solicited feedback from students. While Zeitgeist began as a project aiming to bridge the realms of data analysis and journalism, we also saw it as an opportunity to seek community input to investigate the underlying narratives at Middlebury. What are cultures that students participate in but do not enjoy? How often do students feel lonely? How many sexual partners does the average Middlebury student have? Are students aware of the mental health resources on campus? Of course, we also wanted to use this opportunity to explore and potentially dispel prominent stereotypes at Middlebury. Are Economics majors truly “socially liberal” and “fiscally conservative?” Do athletes have different dining hall preferences than non-athletes? Are conservative students less likely to express their views in class? Above all, we were surprised to find that students wanted to learn more about feelings of belonging at Middlebury. In a campus climate where questions about differences, otherness and acceptance do not easily percolate into discussions, the deluge of feedback, centered around the theme of belonging, reflects a collective will to understand what tethers us to each other and our shared Middlebury identity. With the concept of belonging at the axis, we asked about feeling deserving, about loneliness and about the concept of “otherness.” Our analysis also seeks to illustrate how these shared sentiments may diverge disproportionately in demographics of race, sexual orientation and political views. The definition of Zeitgeist is “the defining spirit of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time.” This year, we believe that the defining theme of our survey is “belonging.”
For aspiring journalists, the news industry has been looking grim lately. The media has lost 2,400 jobs so far in 2019, and after months of flipping between cover letters and articles about layoffs, the New York Times Student Editors Conference was like a small, hopeful oasis in the middle of busy Manhattan. We arrived Friday morning along with 98 other student journalists from schools across the country, walked past the Times’ Pulitzer Wall and took our seats in a giant conference room. We spent the day learning from industry experts, including Sam Dolnick, the assistant managing editor of the Times who helped launch The Daily, and Meghan Louttit, who explained how the Times has stayed at the forefront of digital journalism and storytelling. Nicholas Kristof, a two-time Pulitzer prize winning columnist, also dropped in to visit and regaled us with tales about being chased through a jungle by a warlord after a plane crash. The conference included some useful workshops, such as a digital headline-writing session, during which Mark Bulik taught us how to grab readers attention on social media without falling into the category of clickbait. In discussing The Edit, a Times newsletter geared toward college students, Lindsey Underwood asked us to brainstorm ways the paper can better cover our generation. We also had the chance to meet our peers from institutions in Virginia, Oregon, Iowa, Missouri and Puerto Rico. We learned about the struggles they face in their newsrooms and the truly inspiring work they do as they strive to, as Kristof put it, “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” If nothing else, the conference impressed upon us that journalism is an ever-evolving medium full of possibility and change. Some stories are best told in good, old-fashioned, written format and some do best in audio or video, or through intentionally illustrated graphic design. This is an exciting prospect to apply to our own work at The Campus as we look for ways to branch out and represent the full breadth and depth of the student experience here with the complicated nuance it deserves. We left the conference full of hope that journalism has a bright future. This might sound silly but that is the first time we had felt that way in a while. The Times pitched us their brand — their best digital work, their plan to branch into television, their goal to more than double their subscription base by 2025 — and we are not going to lie it all sounded pretty amazing. Plus they gave us tote bags, so what do we have to complain about? It felt like we were encouraged to dream big about what the news can be, and we saw the mind-blowing work of those who came before us who had those same dreams. As we return to Middlebury, back to our newspaper that is somewhat protected from concerns about subscriptions and competitivity, we hope to harness the creative energy from that room and get back to work telling the stories that matter to our community, in whatever way those stories need to be told.