Timely themes of problematic inheritance and climate change loom large in “How Strange a Season,” a new collection of fiction stories from Visiting Assistant Professor of English & American Literatures Megan Mayhew Bergman. The book, containing seven short stories and a novella, “Indigo Run,” was released this past March and has garnered positive attention from The New York Times and The New Yorker.
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While I love the iconic panther statue and #rollpants as much as the next Midd Kid, I can’t help but wonder why a school in rural Vermont has a black panther, which has never roamed the area, for a mascot. We’re among 33 colleges with this mascot, and the panther is the fourth most popular college mascot, following the bulldog, the tiger and the eagle. Surely, we can come up with a mascot that is more unique to Middlebury and better suits the character of the college.
As the snow melts and current Middlebury students gather on the quad to enjoy the Vermont spring sunshine, high school seniors around the world are receiving their college acceptance emails. This year was one of Middlebury’s most competitive admissions processes yet, and students have until May 6 to make a final decision. As the end of the semester approaches, the class of 2025 is wrapping up their first year of college and offers their reflections and wisdom for the classes of 2026(.5).
Beginning March 14, the Addison Central School District (ACSD) transitioned to “mask-optional” status following new Vermont state guidelines. In an email sent to the ACSD community, ACSD Superintendent Peter Burrows thanked students and staff for helping keep the school safe over the past two years and emphasized how all members of the community could now decide whether or not to wear a mask.
The Board of Trustees approved a 4.5% increase in tuition on March 15, raising the total cost of undergraduate tuition to $62,000 and room and board to $17,800 for the 2022–23 academic year. Additionally, the student activities fee will increase $20 to $460, bringing the total cost of attendance at Middlebury to more than $80,000.
The college will no longer require masking on campus except in classrooms and other designated areas beginning March 18 at 3 p.m., according to an email from administrators sent to students on March 9. Beyond classroom masking, it is up to individual departments to determine whether they will continue to require masks, the email said.
If you’re looking for a mid-week study break, look no further than the basement of Gifford Hall. Every week performers and audience members alike gather for a Wednesday Open Mic Party (WOMP) in the Gamut Room to celebrate and support campus musicians.
Middlebury’s up-and-coming Club Nordic team wrapped up their racing season this past weekend at the Eastern Collegiate Ski Conference Regional Championship meet. In addition to a competitive racing season, the student-led club also organized free ski lessons and gear rentals throughout January and February to help new skiers get started.
The college shortened the required isolation period from 10 to five days on Jan. 14 after nearly 100 students tested positive within the first week of J-Term. The new policy is in line with Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, and allowed students to shift their quarantine plans after the announcement.
“Beautiful world, where are you?” is the title of Sally Rooney’s third novel and the question that the protagonists ask as they re-evaluate themselves and their place in an increasingly troubled society. “Beautiful World, Where Are You” follows Alice, a successful but unstable novelist who has recently moved to the Irish coast, and her college best friend Eileen, who works a low-paying job at a literary magazine in Dublin. Throughout the novel, we see Eileen reconnect with a childhood friend, Simon, and Alice begin dating Felix, who works at a nearby warehouse.
After a housing shortage this past semester pushed many students to satellite housing, upperclassmen housing is shifting once again. Students will move out of Forest West at the end of J-Term to make space for incoming Febs, and students currently studying abroad will return to campus in need of housing. Some students will be given the option to live off-campus but will lose guaranteed housing for future semesters.
Short sprinter Liza Toll ’24 of Harvard, Mass., is gearing up her first indoor season as a Panther. In this edition of seven questions, she talks about being on a relay team, pre-race rituals and an exciting return to normal competition.
Take a “Midd Night Stroll” through downtown Middlebury on Dec. 2, 9 and 16 from 5–8 p.m., for an evening of extended shopping and events with promotions, prizes and new pop-ups. After cancellations last year due to concerns about the potential spread of Covid-19, many local businesses and organizations are excited for the return of this annual tradition.
Sophomores Youness Cheboubi ’24 and Malick Thiam ’24 organized and ran in a marathon on Sunday, Nov. 21 that raised over $2,600 for Hunger Free Vermont, a local organization that fights food injustice and malnutrition. Dozens of students came out to help run sections of the marathon and kept morale high throughout the event.
Enter the latest addition to the weird and whimsical world of Wes Anderson films: “The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun,” an ode to outpost journalism from the 20th century. With style to spare, “The French Dispatch” is an ambitious film, boasting an impressive ensemble cast, three unique stories and plenty of the quirky elements typical of Anderson’s filmography.
Demitria Kirby began her role as the new director of Public Safety on campus on Oct. 25, taking over from Dan Gaiotti, who has been serving as interim director since September 2020.
Back in competition for the first time since fall 2019, the Middlebury club crew team opened their season by reclaiming the Vermont Cup from the University of Vermont (UVM)––the first time Middlebury has defeated UVM in six years.
This fall, with long Proc lines, primarily in-person classes and no room capacity limits — according to the campus status page — many students welcome a return to a more “normal” semester. However, ResLife, dining hall staff and Public Safety officers are still tasked with enforcing rules like indoor mask mandates — and apparently have faced pushback from some students. On Oct. 7, Dean of Students Derek Doucet sent an email to students regarding “troubling incidents” of students refusing to comply with mask mandates. “In recent weeks, we have received a number of reports about deeply troubling aggression,” Doucet wrote. “These incidents have taken the form of verbal abuse, refusal to comply with instructions from College officials, and more rarely, physical altercations.” This email came as a surprise to some students, including Tate Sutter ’24.5, a First-Year Counselor in Hepburn. “Room capacities were the really big thing last year, and without those, it’s pretty much asking someone to put a mask on, then that person puts a mask on,” Sutter said. “That’s been my experience.” Others, like Helen Vaughan ’24.5, found that it can be challenging to strike a balance between normalcy and remaining cautious on campus. “I think it’s hard because, on the one hand, like 99% of the student population is vaccinated, so it’s really easy to just pretend like everything is fine and be annoyed about having to wear a mask,” Vaughan said. “But at the same time, it’s still also hard for the dining staff and RAs and custodial staff to have to enforce it because this is still the rule, and you can still get [Covid-19].” Doucet called for students to reflect on these incidents and brainstorm solutions. The college is now hosting virtual open office hours on Thursdays, beginning Oct. 14. The office hours will feature a rotating group of senior student affairs staff members, including Doucet, Executive Director for the Center for Health and Wellness Barbara McCall and Vice President of Student Affairs Smita Ruzicka.
For the cohort of students living off campus this year, getting to class is not a breezy five-minute stroll from their dorm room. Many juniors living at the Marriott, the Inn on the Green or Bread Loaf have felt let down by inconsistent transportation to campus and a lack of clear communication from the college. Chang Ma ’23 was deciding between living at Bread Loaf or at the Marriott, and ultimately chose the Marriott. He expressed frustration with the shuttle system, and has had to walk to campus, sometimes missing classes due to miscommunication about the shuttle schedules. “They’ve [ResLife] never apologized or taken responsibility,” Ma said. Glenn Kontor ’23 is living at Bread Loaf this semester, and described the experience as bittersweet. Kontor, like other Bread Loaf residents, received a room and board discount and future housing priority along with free ski passes for the coming season. Kontor looks forward to learning how to ski this winter, but the distance from campus has its challenges. “It literally takes an hour to commute to and from Breadloaf and campus, as opposed to the five- to seven-minute walk I’ve experienced my first two years at Middlebury,” Kontor said. “I can’t go to my room to take a nap or grab something I’ve forgotten, and if I have any clubs or commitments in the evening, I’m waiting around on campus until I’m able to head home for the night.” Audrey Grimes ’23 was originally placed at the Bread Loaf campus but jumped at the opportunity to live closer to campus. Now, she lives at the Inn on the Green with about 20 other students. “I don’t know what I was expecting, but it’s definitely not bad,” Grimes said. “I still feel like I’m pretty much on campus, because it is close. I can drive — I can walk if I want to.” Unlike students living at the Marriott and Bread Loaf, students living at the Inn on the Green do not receive any benefits like room and board discounts or future housing priority. “I think we should at least get housing priority for next year,” Grimes said. “It’s still not ideal.” There are no RAs or other staff members at the Inn on the Green, which struck Grimes as strange. “I wish someone would check in on us and be like ‘Hey, how is this going?’” she said. In addition to the lack of in-person support, Grimes has also been disappointed with the college’s communication with residents and said that there is confusion surrounding parking and transportation. Grimes said there are also concerns about the colder weather, since students will be less likely to walk or bike to campus and therefore will rely more on the shuttle system.
This fall, Middlebury is buzzing with construction projects, including site preparation near Bicentennial Hall for a new first-year dorm and renovations of Warner Hall and Dana Auditorium. The Board of Trustees approved funding for a conceptual design of construction documents for a new first-year dorm to replace Battell to get the project shovel-ready. This included granting approval to prepare the new construction site. Currently, the steam lines for central campus heating are being moved, according to David Provost, executive vice president for finance and administration. “So all that [construction] is literally just to be in a position to move forward, which was also approved by the board as part of the capital project,” Provost said. The next steps for the new first-year dorm project include acquiring state environmental permits for new construction, which according to Provost has not yet occurred, and identifying a funding source. Provost said that there are two considerations for funding — either fundraising or borrowing debt, which will be discussed at the board level. The plans for the new dorm include features that Battell currently lacks such as seminar rooms, lounges and study rooms. Additionally, the building will be universally designed and accessible. Because the two biggest variables in the construction of the new dorm — funding sources and building costs — have not yet been finalized, the college has not set a start date for construction on the new freshman dorm. Provost estimates the earliest possible date for construction is next summer. Other spaces on campus are also undergoing accessibility renovations. Munroe and Voter halls were updated last year and last summer respectively, and Warner Hall and Dana Auditorium are currently under construction. Dana will be completed by the new year, in time for J-Term, with updated and fully accessible features. Warner is undergoing a complete remodel and is scheduled to be finished next summer. “The spirit of this strategy is constant improvement,” Provost said. In the next five to seven years, the college also plans to build a new student center by Proctor and a new art museum where Battell is currently located.