Divestment has been a long process involving protests and marches, panels of students and experts and votes by students, faculty and other community forums. This interactive timeline walks through some of the most important events along Middlebury's path to divestment. [infographic align="left"][/infographic]
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Old Stone Mill, the college’s hub for student entrepreneurs, innovators and student makers, was sold for $500,000 to Community Barn Ventures, a local consulting firm for growing businesses. The closing date on the sale of the historic building in downtown Middlebury is Jan. 7, which leaves students a month to move out of the space. At that time, the Old Stone Mill programs will relocate to 82 Weybridge Street. According to college treasurer David Provost, the sale does not represent a change in the college’s commitment to the students involved in Old Stone Mill projects, but rather a financial necessity. The building needed between $2 and $2.5 million worth of changes to bring it up to the college’s safety and accessibility standards. Meanwhile, the college has $100 million worth of projects that it has already prioritized, including the renovation of Warner, Johnson and Munroe, building a new academic building, a new residence hall to replace Battell and a new museum. Provost said that the college is committed to finding both an interim space for the spring of 2019 and a space that will accommodate all of the Old Stone Mill’s projects in the long term. On Dec. 1, the Innovation Hub announced that the Old Stone Mill programs will be moving to 82 Weybridge Street in the short term. 82 Weybridge Street is up the hill from the current space, 3 Mill Street. It has three apartments, which will continue to accommodate the needs of the Old Stone Mill tenants in conjunction with the Annex space on campus. The Annex space is above the ceramics house on Adirondack Street and already serves as an extra space for Old Stone Mill tenants. The college purchased the Old Stone Mill in January 2008. In the last 10 years, it has served as a creativity incubator for students seeking a space away from their dorm rooms to build and innovate. Each year, the Old Stone Mill has functioned as that much-needed space for hundreds of student tenants. “Old Stone Mill is unique in that it is not exclusively a business incubator and it is not a space dedicated for specific academic work,” said Heather Neuwirth, associate director of the center for social entrepreneurship. “We blend a focus on innovation in the liberal arts with an emphasis on opening up space for creativity,” she said. The projects of student tenants vary greatly from using the space to write poetry to cooking dinner for the Dinner with Strangers program, to managing well-established businesses. Some of these student-run businesses include Share to Wear, Overeasy, BeachIt, SheFly and PatchyTs. Share To Wear, a dress rental exchange system for femme-identifying students, was founded in 2016, and leader Greta Hulleberg ’19 attributes much of their positive development to the Old Stone Mill space. Currently, the company stores over 700 dresses in the space, making it laborious to move while keeping them clean and organized. Hulleberg hopes that the new space will still offer opportunities for collaboration. The founders of Share To Wear regularly collaborated and bounced their ideas off of the leaders of Overeasy and other tenants when working together in the shared work space. Similarly, the founders of PatchyTs, a t-shirt company that irons custom patches designed by collaborative artists onto their shirts, hope that this sharing will continue in the new space. Ryan Feldman ’21 said they were disappointed to hear of the Old Stone Mill’s closing because they had fully moved their operation into the work space and had enjoyed making friends with and learning from the leaders of Overeasy and Share to Wear. They are looking forward to moving into the new building. The space is also home to M Gallery, a gallery designed to give students who create art an alternative space to show their work that is distinct from studio art classes. According to M Gallery Board Member Leila Markosian ’21, their biggest concern was finding another common area that would fit their needs. They are unsure that they will receive the same reparations since they operate slightly more independently from the rest of the Old Stone Mill tenants. They are excited by the news of the move to 82 Weybridge Street and considerations of Meeker basement because of its accessibility. In spite of the wide diversity of projects, student tenants and board members of the Old Stone Mill have continually remarked on this rich spirit of collaboration within the space. They all expressed their hope that this atmosphere of sharing and the excitement for innovation that currently exists in the building will be replicated at 82 Weybridge Street. “It’s the end of the building, not the program,” said Old Stone Mill board member Sarah Haedrich ’19.5, who has assured tenants of the continued success of the program. “We are trying to look at it as an opportunity to make the space better,” Haedrich said. Hulleberg similarly expressed her gratitude for the college’s support of creativity and innovation and how lucky she feels that they have and will continue to have a space for their dresses, which they once had to store in a suite. Opportunities still exist for students to engage with the Old Stone Mill space under its new owners. “We believe we have found a buyer in Community Barn Ventures who will utilize the building to create a hub for innovation and creativity that will align well with Middlebury’s mission,” Provost said. “It will create a community space that the students, faculty and staff of the college will benefit from greatly once complete,” he said. The future owners hope to create a community space that will engage as many members of the community as possible on a daily basis. They plan to build a restaurant on the first floor to replace Storm Café, which closed on Nov. 11, a “public market” on the second floor with various vendors selling different products, a co-working space and private working spaces and lodging spaces on the top floors. The last tenant showcase in the Old Stone Mill space will take place today from 6-8 p.m.
Title IX Coordinator Sue Ritter ’83 will step down from her current position and become special assistant to the president, associate secretary to the board and director of community relations starting on Thursday, Nov. 15. President Laurie L. Patton announced the move in a school-wide email Monday. Ritter will fill the position left vacant by Dave Donahue ’91, who has accepted a position at an educational nonprofit in Florida. Ritter has worked at the college since 2007. She worked as the associate director of corporate and foundation relations and later as the associate director of alumni relations before moving to the Title IX Office in 2015. During her time serving as the Title IX coordinator, she was responsible for the college’s response to reporting related to sexual assault and the college’s compliance with Title IX, the Clery Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and anti-discrimination laws. In her new position, Ritter will work even more closely with Patton, as she will report directly to her on a daily basis. She will also be working even more closely with the Board of Trustees as the new associate secretary. [pullquote speaker="Title IX Coordinator Sue Ritter ’83" photo="" align="center" background="on" border="all" shadow="on"]As someone who has lived Middlebury for the past 23 years, I have a strong sense of what makes this community such a special one.[/pullquote] A significant change in her responsibilities will be her work managing the college’s relationships with the larger Middlebury, Addison County and Vermont communities. Ritter and her spouse, Bob Ritter ’82, the college’s head football coach, have lived in Middlebury since 1995. Before working at the college, she worked as an attorney in the area, which put her in close contact with town members. “I represented numerous Vermont municipalities and town officials and have served on many local nonprofit boards, including the United Way of Addison County, Porter Hospital, Eastview at Middlebury and the Mary Hogan School Board,” she said. “Some of this worked involved collaboration with the college, and through it all I developed a deep understanding of the critical importance of town-gown relations.” The two are also parents of three Middlebury students past and present and have been engaged community members. Ritter even has a special named after her at Middlebury Bagel & Deli: “Sue’s Eggs.” “As someone who has lived Middlebury for the past 23 years, I have a strong sense of what makes this community such a special one,” Ritter said. Patton wrote in the email that the college will begin the search for a new Title IX coordinator immediately. “I will remain involved with the Title IX office during this transition period, and I know that Middlebury will remain committed to a fair and effective Title IX process going forward,” she said.
A Middlebury alumnus was exposed as a leading alt-right Twitter troll who spread Russian misinformation during the 2016 election in a viral article published by the Huffington Post last Thursday, April 5. The alumnus, Douglass Mackey ’11, operated online under the pseudonym “Ricky Vaughn.” Under the guise of Ricky Vaughn, Mackey, 28, attached himself to the extremist, white supremacist movement that supported now President Trump in the summer leading up to the 2016 election. It was during this summer that Mackey was fired from his job as an economist at John Dunham & Associates in New York City. Gaining thousands of followers, he tweeted and retweeted Islamophobic, racist, anti-Semitic and misogynistic ideas, while also appealing to more mainstream Trump supporters in the lead up to the presidential election. Mackey’s dissemination of far-right propaganda under the pseudonym put him on the MIT Media Lab’s list of 150 influencers in the 2016 election, ahead of NBC News, Stephen Colbert and other news sources. When Twitter shut down his account, @Ricky_Vaughn99, a month before the election, the Huffington Post reported that he resumed activity under the new handle of @RapinBill. Mackey also began working on the site Gab, a social media platform built around ideas of total free speech and anti-censorship. Gab has become largely populated by white supremacists, members of the alt-right movement and neo-Nazis. Mackey maintained his anonymity until a white nationalist congressional candidate in Wisconsin, Paul Nehlen, revealed Mackey’s identity last week in a feud over divisions between the alt-right. Nehlen is challenging current Speaker of the House Paul Ryan in the Republican Primary for Wisconsin’s first congressional district. Mackey attended Harwood Union High School in Waterbury, Vermont, before matriculating at Middlebury in the fall of 2008. He was an economics major and a member of the track and field team for one semester. Mackey’s roster photo still remains available on the college athletics website. “I do not remember much about him. He was a boy who I let walk on the team,” said Martin Beatty, the head track and field coach. “He was pretty slow and weak. He wasn’t on the team for more than a year, if he even made it through the entire year.” Despite his short tenure on the team, Mackey was quoted twice in The Campus in the winter of 2009. His generic quotes speak to the team's strength, the support between the men’s and women’s teams, and his hope that they would maintain their momentum. The Campus reached out to economics professors who taught at the college between 2008 and 2011 and may have taught Mackey. Fifteen professors responded that he either had not been in their classes or that they had no recollection of him. Though Paul Sommers, an economics professor, did not recall having Mackey in class, after checking his records he found that Mackey was in fact enrolled in his Economic Statistics class in the spring of 2009. He remained enrolled in the course for the whole semester, but Sommers said there was no record of Mackey having turned in any assignments or completed any exams. After graduating in 2011, Mackey moved to New York and has remained active in the college’s network. Mackey donated to the college in 2011 and did so for three or more consecutive years. He also attended reunion in 2016 and a holiday reception in New York City in Dec. 2016. Mackey’s father, Scott Mackey ’85, also attended the college, graduating with a degree in economics and environmental studies. After graduating, Scott Mackey worked as a legislative assistant to then-Republican Vermont Senator James Jeffords. Jeffords left the Republican Party and began caucusing with the Democrats in 2001. Scott Mackey currently lives in Vermont and works as a lobbyist with a focus on tax policy. In response to The Campus’s request for comment, Scott Mackey sent the identical statement that appeared in the Huffington Post on behalf of him and his wife Kathy. “We were devastated to learn this week of Doug’s beliefs and online activities as reported in the Huffington Post,” the statement read. “They are antithetical to the values we hold and with which he was raised. We are still trying to understand how he could have done something like this and hope he will find some way to make amends for the harm he has caused.” Doug Mackey did not respond to The Campus’s request for comment. Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Douglass Mackey's name.
Elizabeth Dunn ’18, who on Dec. 12 posted a list on Facebook accusing 36 current and former male students of sexual misconduct, has received official college discipline in the form of a letter in their file. Official college discipline is a permanent attachment to a student’s file and must be reported if a student is asked whether they have received college discipline. It is also reported to the parents and guardians of the student. “I’ve received official college discipline in the form of a letter that goes on my permanent record, for violating the respect for persons policy and obstructing a Title IX investigation (i.e. not sharing the names of survivors),” said Dunn, who uses they/them pronouns. Dunn declined an interview with The Campus. However, they did participate in an interview with Seven Days last month before the college had reached a disciplinary decision. “I could be facing suspension or expulsion. Middlebury judicial affairs has refused to take anything off the table right now,” Dunn said at the time of the interview. Warnings, reprimands and probationary status, which are issued to students who commit nonacademic general offenses, are not a part of a student’s permanent record. These offenses are followed in severity by official college discipline and then suspension, which are permanent on a student’s file. Official college discipline results from actions that violate Middlebury’s standards and policies. The handbook also states that further disciplinary action will likely result in suspension. The handbook states, “Official college discipline is intended to encourage immediate improved behavior, and acceptance of responsibility and growth by establishing this incident on the student’s permanent record.” Dunn told the Seven Days reporter that although they are applying to law school, they are not concerned with the discipline on their record hurting their chances of being accepted. Dunn said their backup plan is working in the Bronx public defender’s office. Dunn said they stood by their decision to post the list. “This harm is being done by, like, specific people and by specific individuals, and if we want to move toward a conversation about, like, healing and accountability and growth, there needs to be some acknowledgment that harm was done,” Dunn told Seven Days. Bill Burger, the college’s spokesman, told The Campus that he could not respond to questions related to an individual student’s case.
The student who posted a “List of Men to Avoid” on Facebook last month, Elizabeth Dunn ’18, is now facing disciplinary action after the list prompted a judicial investigation into potential violations of college policy. According to Dunn, administrators said it was “highly likely” that Dunn would face official college discipline, which entails a letter in a student’s permanent file and is seen as one step before suspension. The list included the names of 33 current and former male students who were labeled with sexual misconduct charges ranging from “emotionally manipulative” to “serial rapist.” Dunn said the list was compiled from “a group of 30 to 40 survivors,” and that none of them had given Dunn consent to reveal their names to the school. Dunn said the charges stem in part from not sharing the names of those survivors with the judicial office. The college’s Respect for the Authority of Middlebury Officials policy says that students are expected to “cooperate fully” in the disciplinary process and “any student, whether a party or a witness, who refuses to cooperate” in the disciplinary process may be “subject to discipline.” The college’s spokesman, Bill Burger, responded on behalf of several administrators who were asked to comment on the college’s action since Dunn posted the list on Facebook. “Students are required to cooperate with conduct investigations once they have been identified, by themselves or others, as having relevant information,” he said. Although Burger would not comment on whether the judicial office requested a list of names from Dunn, when asked why the office would want to know the names of the students who provided names for the list, he said: “Middlebury is committed to supporting survivors of sexual assault and other sexual misconduct and to reducing sexual violence in our community.” The Respect for Persons charge was addressed in an email sent to the community on Dec. 15. The email addressed students placed on the list, encouraging them to reach out to judicial deans if they felt they were falsely accused. The email mentioned that the college had received many questions in regard to violations of the Respect for Persons policy. The policy states that “Middlebury expects all students, as members of the College community, to respect the dignity, freedom, and rights of others.” This policy prohibits defamation and “violation of another’s privacy.” When asked questions about the nature of the college’s investigation, Burger said, “It would be inappropriate to discuss a specific conduct investigation. It is important that all aspects of our investigations are conducted thoroughly, fairly and confidentially.” When asked what jurisdiction the college has over allegations made online, Burger said, “Middlebury’s written policies are very clear that our community standards apply broadly and not only to actions that physically occur on our campuses.” While the college has begun to take action in this case, Dunn said, “There isn’t a precedent for a situation like this, so there are a lot of directions Middlebury could go in with the judicial process. Maybe that looks like me being suspended or expelled; maybe that looks like community conversations facilitated by the college; maybe that looks like restorative justice.” Speaking to the college’s current judicial system, Dunn said, “The question I have is whether the current approach Middlebury uses fulfills the needs of students in the safest, healthiest and most respectful way possible. I think the list itself is an indicator that a large number of people are disillusioned with the processes Middlebury currently has in place to deal with allegations of sexual misconduct.” Burger said: “We know that challenges exist on our campus and at all colleges and universities and we will continue to work with students, faculty, staff and outside organizations to do more and to continually improve our efforts to make Middlebury safer for all members of our community.” Dunn said the list should not be viewed as an isolated incident but in the context of current events. “We exist in a political and social moment in which survivors are pushing back against a culture of silence, violence, and invalidation. The list could and should be contextualized as part of broader movements against sexual violence, such as the shitty men in media list, the Me Too hashtag, and other forms of activism.”
The college and PEN America presented a panel on Thursday, Jan. 11 on free speech and inclusion, entitled “Whose Freedom, Whose Speech? The Future of Community and Free Speech at Middlebury.” This panel was designed to continue the ongoing conversations at the college about the relationship between free speech and community values since last spring. The panel was a part of the Critical Conversations series that was started in the fall of 2017 in an effort to engage the diversity of perspectives on campus in discussion. PEN America, the college’s partner in the panel, is a nonprofit organization that works with colleges and universities to address issues of free expression. The panel was moderated by Suzanne Nossel, the executive director of PEN America. The panelists included Roberto Lint Sagarena, director of intercultural programs and associate professor of American studies at the college, Elizabeth Siyuan Lee ’17, campaigns strategist at Coworker.org, James Lyall ’02, executive director of the Vermont ACLU, and Nabiha Syed, the assistant general counsel at Buzzfeed. The discussion began with demographic questions to get a sense of the backgrounds and perspectives of audience members on how much the college is doing to promote free speech and inclusivity. Syed discussed the role that the First Amendment law related to free speech plays in public versus private universities. She said that, while the law is quite narrow, there is cultural meaning layered on top of what the law says that gives private universities the opportunity to think about their values without strictly adhering to the First Amendment. Lyall agreed that private colleges have the unique opportunity to make value judgments about what type of speech should be allowed on campus. Lyall said he felt it is critical that the college continues the difficult conversations that have come out of the Charles Murray talk. Sagarena said that to call the Charles Murray events an attack on free speech oversimplifies the significant events leading up to his talk. He said, “We cannot think about the event in a vacuum. The response to Charles Murray was a proxy for events happening nationally following the election.” Syed echoed his thoughts, saying, “Free speech is messy, loud, and sloppy because it invokes moments of great emotional and political turmoil and the national backdrop of the Charles Murray event stoked that flame.” Lee reminded the other panelists, “We need to see Middlebury as a home, not just a platform for ideas. While we need to preserve a platform for people to discuss, it feels more violent when we live on this campus and there’s only around 2,500 of us.” She went on to say that the classroom should be the place where students can engage with uncomfortable ideas so that they can actually discuss those ideas. Syed warned that, “When a group of people protest so loudly that the person can’t be heard, you open yourselves up to others doing the same to you, which leads to a race to the bottom.” The conversation then turned to the role that the college should have in policing free speech online. Sagarena said that he feels that Facebook posts are private and should not be part of the college’s dominion. Lee agreed but said, “When you insert yourself into the public sphere, you need to take responsibility for the speech you put out there.” Syed argued that many people have taken to expressing themselves online when they feel that other systems of justice have failed them. As the conversation turned to hate speech, Syed said, “We carve out categories of speech as being beyond the pale all the time, but historically we have refused to carve out hate speech.” She argued that it is important to pay attention to who is drawing the lines for what speech is acceptable. She and other panelists also emphasized the importance of paying attention to the matrix of power that exists around speech. In a poll at the end of the panel and after time was given for questions, 29 percent of students said a lot more needs to be done for open expression on campus, while 50 percent of faculty said a lot more needs to be done. Twenty-eight percent of students also said they had not yet decided, which makes it clear that these conversations continue to be critical to understand how our campus will move forward with these issues.