Today, the publication date of this issue, marks the two-year anniversary of the day that Middlebury students were told that they were being sent home due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Less than half of the current student population was present on campus during that semester, but within days, we all experienced our version of The Day It All Changed, or some sort of transition that marked the Before, During and — now, for some — the After of the pandemic.
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In January 2019, we published our first staff issue. It detailed the impact of workforce planning — a concerted administrative effort to reduce employee compensation costs by 10% — on the staff of the college. Three years (and one global pandemic) later, we again find ourselves in a critical time to better understand the experiences of Middlebury staff.
The college has decided to delay the start of J-Term to Jan.10, per an email to the Middlebury community sent on Dec. 22. The term will also end a day later, on Feb. 3, making the term four days shorter than originally planned. Many other adjustments, including initial grab-and-go dining, twice-weekly mandated testing and possibly restrictions on gathering sizes and travel outside of Addison County will accompany this change.
Dear Vice President for Student Affairs Smita Ruzicka, Vice President for Administration and Chief Risk Officer Mike Thomas and Public Safety Director Dimitria Kirby,
Middlebury’s Mead Memorial Chapel, named for John Mead, a Vermont governor and member of the class of 1864, lost the name Mead this morning in acknowledgement of its namesake’s role in promoting eugenics in Vermont during the early 1900s. The piece of stone bearing the chapel’s name was removed as of this morning.In a message to the community, college President Laurie Patton and George Lee, chair of the Board of Trustees, announced that a working group and the trustees had engaged in a careful deliberative process and decided to remove the Mead name. “We want to stress upfront that this was a process involving deep reflection and discussion. No issue like this should be undertaken lightly or often,” they wrote. The chapel will now be referred to as “The Middlebury Chapel” or just “the chapel.” In 1914, Mead and his wife Mary Madelia Sherman donated $74,000 to the college to create a new chapel. In 1912, two years before his donation, Mead gave a farewell address to the Vermont legislature in which he advocated for the use of eugenic theory in creating legislation and policy. His comments in that speech about marriage restrictions, segregation and sterilization inspired the research behind the Eugenics Survey of Vermont and led to the legalization of voluntary eugenical sterilization two decades later. The renaming follows unanimous decisions in the Vermont House and Senate earlier this year to “sincerely apologize and express sorrow and regret” for the state’s role in the eugenics movement, including the forced sterilization of 250 Vermonters. A Middlebury working group convened in May after the Vermont Legislature’s apology to examine the college’s relationship to Vermont’s eugenics history and the role of Governor Mead. After reviewing archival research regarding Mead and the history of eugenics in Vermont, considering the history and use of the chapel today, and reflecting on actions taken by other organizations that acknowledged historical connections to eugenics, the group recommended that the Mead name be removed.“Following its review, citing his central role in advancing eugenics policies that resulted in harm to hundreds of Vermonters, the working group determined that ‘the name of former Governor Mead on an iconic building in the center of campus is not consistent with what Middlebury stands for in the 21st century,’” Lee and Patton wrote in their email this morning.Patton then sent the working group’s recommendation to the Board of Trustees’ Prudential Committee, which voted unanimously to remove the name.The email from Patton and Lee also clarified that the decision was not made in response to student protest, nor was it an effort to erase part of the college’s history. The college said they “will be candid” regarding the decision to remove the Mead name where there are currently references to the chapel and that they are considering “educational signage.”The chapel is an iconic feature of Middlebury’s landscape and branding. It marks entry into the Middlebury community as the site of convocation, appears on merchandise and can be seen far and wide due to its location at the highest point on campus. In addition, alumni of the college, along with faculty and staff and their children, can use Mead Chapel for weddings.Mead’s financial gift to the college was not conditional upon his name being put on the building, so the college is not obligated to return the gift to the Mead family. Changing the name is not a fundraising opportunity, and there are currently no plans to rename the chapel, according to the announcement. Other signage around campus and text on the website containing the Mead name had not been changed at the time of writing, but is expected to be altered soon.
It’s been 553 days since we last printed an issue of our newspaper. It’s been 555 days since we were told that we were being sent home from campus due to the pandemic; it’s been 555 days since we gathered in our basement office to work on publishing an issue that looked very different than it did mere hours earlier. It’s been 557 days since we sat in a circle outside of our office, munching on Green Peppers pizza, while we discussed an emerging pandemic that seemed miles away from our small Vermont campus.In the past 553 days, we’ve continued to write, even while scattered across the globe. We’ve advocated for a safer environment for students and fairer wages for staff. We’ve written about all of the ways that Covid-19 has touched student life, and community life, at and away from Middlebury.Despite navigating lives marked by isolation, uncertainty and sometimes grief, we’ve still managed to put out a paper each week. And now, we return to print. Among the writers of this piece, one of us has never edited a print copy of our paper. Our staff is full of new faces, the majority of whom entered our office this past week for the first time. And even for some of our more seasoned staff, this fall was the first time they stepped foot in our humble basement office.It’s been a week of introductions, reunifications, and a cautious sense of normalcy, even as many editors are unaware of what “normal” is. While our paper has persisted online, the return to print represents a new era of The Campus, but in a familiar form. This print paper may feel like just a collection of words and photos, but our return to print is about more than taking what we run online and putting it on paper. With a newspaper, we are able to hold the material, tangible product of our work; we can see it scattered across dining hall tables, on the newsstands outside of the student center. Most importantly, it can reach the hands of our readers, of our friends, colleagues, professors, and staff, regardless of their ability to access our content online. In print, we present a collection of stories and photos written by a collection of students, curated within twelve, thin pages that bear witness to the actions of those around us and provide a capsule of a point in time — of this particular point in time. And at a time when many of us are relearning what it means to be a Middlebury student, we’re relearning what it means to be a community newspaper at Middlebury.
Monument Farms Dairy has undergone years of change since becoming the college’s leading dairy provider in the 1950s. While this year was more tumultuous than most, the farm handled its challenges as it typically does: with a vigorous commitment to quality milk, family-style. Monument was started in the 1930s when Richard James began bottling milk in his basement to sell along a home delivery route. The farm has remained in family ownership ever since and is now owned and operated by the third and fourth generations of dairy farmers. Dan James is part of that fourth generation and leads sales and distribution at Monument. “My generation, the fourth generation, is heavily invested in things and are in their early 30s, and we have the mindset of not selling out to the big guys,” James said. This attitude has endured throughout years of growth at Monument, as their farm, plant and number of clients have grown. Monument Dairy includes both a farm and a processing plant, which allows the team to supervise all parts of the process. The processing plant is located on James Road, while the farm is a third of a mile away on Weybridge Road. Since Monument is a smaller farm compared to other dairy producers, growth tends to happen slowly, as they must take time to save up to make large renovations, such as buying larger holding tanks for milk or expanding their barn. In addition, any large increase in production must start from the ground up, as it requires growing more crops and raising more cows, a process that takes time. Jon Rooney has been the plant manager at Monument Farm since the 1980s and has seen his fair share of growth at the farm. “Our competitors, all they really need to do is order in another tank-load of milk, whereas we’ve got to grow the crops and grow the cows,” Rooney said. “[These top-to-bottom operations] force us to grow slowly, which is actually I think a benefit, because it would be really easy to take a bunch of customers and kind of go hog-wild, and all of a sudden you really quickly find your weak points,” James said. “We tier up slowly, and it seems to work.” Part of this growth has been aided by the farm’s relationship to the college, which began 65 years ago when Monument began selling milk to the college dining halls. According to Rooney, college students used to drink two to three times more milk than they do today. He attributes it to several changes that the dining hall has made, including the inclusion of several alternative milk options. The dining halls currently offer almond and oat milk along with dairy milk. In addition, Rooney cited changes to the size of glasses and the removal of trays from the dining halls as key factors that reduced milk consumption. “First off, the college stepped down to smaller glasses, because the bigger glasses that they had in the dining hall could also fit a 12 oz. beer really well, so they kept [disappearing],” Rooney said. According to Rooney, smaller glasses meant students would take less milk each time. “At the same time, they did away with the trays because they were getting used for sleds and stuff,” said Rooney. “All of sudden, you need one hand to carry your milk, and so it gets left behind.” Weathering the Pandemic: According to Rooney, the dairy industry easily “backs up,” meaning that changes in demand or supply can have repercussions throughout the whole system. According to Rooney and James, milk consumption initially decreased during Covid-19 as institutions like schools and restaurants closed temporarily, which caused several farmers, including Monument, to dump milk that they could not sell. Sales of milk then picked up as people began buying excess milk. Cross-country networks couldn’t keep up with the sudden demand for milk, so stores limited the quantity of products that each customer could purchase. “The logistics of it — they couldn’t get it to the places fast enough so stores were limiting their quantities so that they wouldn’t run out of stock,” James said. “Due to our situation, we could’ve increased our deliveries because we’re smaller scale.” The pandemic also caused milk prices to drop by around 40% overnight. To make up for lower milk prices, the USDA gave dairy farmers financial assistance, and farmers, including Monument, were able to receive assistance from the Paycheck Protection Program. Covid-19 also gave Monument Farms the chance to introduce an online portal allowing customers to buy products in advance. This interface replaced the previous system, which required customers to place orders in person on site for the next delivery. “People’s mindset about change is very hard to overcome,” James said, alluding to some hesitancy about the change. With everything already changing due to Covid-19, however, customers were more willing to make the switch. “Just the fact that everything was changing at the same time meant that it was a smooth introduction to that,” James said. Even though Covid-19 brought its fair share of hardship to Monument, Rooney found it comforting that milk is still valued. “I was actually kind of relieved to see that a lot more people than I thought would consider milk to be one the essentials — I mean, besides toilet paper,” Rooney said. Future of Dairy While the pandemic may have temporarily reaffirmed the demand for milk, the future of dairy still seems uncertain. Dairy has become a topic of concern in recent years, including for the Lake Champlain Citizen Advisory Committee and candidates for governor. Most of the discussions center the environmental impacts of dairy and the economic viability of the industry. “The ones who are vocal get elected into office, and all of sudden there’s a political viewpoint that everything is changing,” James said. “Vermont farmers who have been around forever just put their heads down and continue to work and aren’t given a voice.” A 2018 study found that the production of one glass of dairy milk creates almost three times as much greenhouse gas as a glass of plant-based milk. Most of this greenhouse gas is emitted in the form of methane, which is released by cows when they first digest their food and whenever manure is handled. Plant-based milk presents other environmental challenges. Pesticides used in the production of almond milk have proven to be harmful to bee colonies, for example, and the production of rice milk requires massive amounts of water and also releases methane into the air. Monument Farms has implemented some changes to address environmental concerns. The farm recycles the manure produced by cows by feeding it into an anaerobic digester, which then produces enough electricity to power the entire farm and processing plant. Digested manure is then sifted through a mechanical separator, which separates solids that can then be used for bedding or sold to the public. Rooney acknowledges that dairy farming can pose challenges to the environment but is optimistic about dairy’s ability to adapt to changing standards. “Every farmer we know is totally invested in their environmental impact and always adopting new techniques to reduce their impact or turn it into positive impacts,” Rooney said. “I think that dairy people appreciate that they’re under the microscope and need to adapt to new technologies.” While the environmental impacts of dairy are an important consideration, the most immediate concerns for dairy farms are dwindling dairy prices and reduced demand while costs remain largely fixed. Dairy prices have been on the decline since 2015 and were just starting to increase before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, which caused prices to plunge. According to the USDA forecast, however, prices are expected to increase slightly in 2021 due to the strong demand for dairy products abroad. “You can’t argue too much against [lower prices]. I mean, if that’s the value being placed on the product. You can’t really artificially create value.” Rooney said. He attributes expansion of larger and larger farms to dwindling dairy prices, as they have the capacity to absorb different shocks in the dairy industry. Despite these changes, Monument has remained committed to quality. “Because our name’s on every container, we have to take great pains to make sure everything’s done right every time,” Rooney said.
MiddKids have long been known for swinging their Nalgene bottles, sporting Patagonia and engaging with the outdoors — all characteristic of what is considered “crunchy.” And while this outdoors- and environment-centric culture permeates campus life, many also find it to be exclusive and inaccessible. “At Middlebury, there’s a lot of people who are really interested in outdoor recreation and the environment, which is labeled as crunchy on this campus and seems like a large body. Febs often are characterized as crunchy,” Kamryn You Mak ’23.5 said. After taking the past semester off, You Mak described her experience participating in Feb “crunchy” culture. “It’s eye-opening seeing how tight-knit this [Feb] community is, where going on a hike is a typical ‘Feb’ activity,” You Mak said. Many students say that there is a stereotype that Febs are more “crunchy,” given that some choose to spend their Feb-mester traveling, working or participating in programs related to exploring the outdoors. For others, crunchy culture takes on additional cultural and political significance. “I think typically activities and traits associated with crunch culture are eating alternative diets, hiking and other outdoor activities, a dedication to reducing one’s waste, and wearing brands that claim to be environmentally conscious like Patagonia,” said Elijah Willig ’21. Jackson Hawkins ’21.5 agreed. “To me, crunchy culture is rooted in a shared love of the outdoors, but has sort of expanded to more superficial things like the sort of music you listen to or the clothes you wear,” Hawkins said. According to Hannah Gellert ’22, crunchy culture at Middlebury has different segments. “There's a vein of it that’s truly engaging with the outdoors and recreating in the outdoors. And then there's a vein that's more performative,” Gellert said, noting that performative crunchy culture involves only wearing typical crunchy brands, like Patagonia or North Face. She said that a third segment of crunchy culture involves environmental activism and sustainable living practices. Crunchy culture has manifested in tangible ways on campus, from the existence of clubs such as Middlebury Mountain Club to the food options people prefer at the dining hall. “I have felt more self conscious about what I eat since coming to Middlebury. Upon arriving and interacting with people, I actually learned about the concept of ethical consumption,” Willig said. I never thought there would be environmental benefits to being vegetarian or vegan. I just assumed people either wanted to lose weight or just love animals too much to eat them.” Willig also noted that there are differences between the ways that certain groups of people on campus eat. “[I noticed] little things in diet between groups, [like] most white people at Midd don’t touch soda ever,” Willig said. There are a variety of on-campus groups — with the potential to influence the perception and inclusivity of crunchy culture — that attract students with an appreciation for the outdoors, such as Brooker, the outdoor interest house, or the Middlebury Mountain Club (MMC). Founded in 1931, MMC is one of Middlebury’s oldest student organizations and offers a variety of outdoor activities year-round, including hiking, boating and climbing trips throughout Vermont and beyond. MMC offers these activities to Middlebury students free of cost. Historically, their trips have been immensely popular, promoting engagement with and appreciation for the outdoors among the student body. Additionally, MMC hosts social events, provides educational programming and workshops, and runs the first-year outdoor orientation programs. Current President of MMC Molly Arndt ’23, who hails from Colorado and spent time outdoors growing up, said that she didn’t embrace her “crunchy” side until she came to Middlebury and became involved with the Mountain Club. “The idea of going out on trips to explore Vermont, an incredible place, has allowed me to get more involved with things like canoeing and climbing,” she said. Although many students spoke highly of their memories of enjoying these spaces, inclusivity within outdoor spaces was a critical concern for Arndt, who described MMC’s policy of ensuring that all students can participate in the club’s activities regardless of barriers of cost and access to gear. However, Arndt noted the lingering challenges of expanding accessibility. “This still doesn’t take away the fact that it is an intimidating space to get into,” Ardnt said. Willig said that conversations about inclusivity and the outdoors should not occur in a vacuum. “Once, I overheard a hiking group in the Adirondack house talking about how to diversify their group and have more people of color feel comfortable doing outdoor activities — all of which is great,” Willig said. “The meeting was 100% white though. There was no outreach to connect with any cultural organization. No person from the AFC sitting at the meeting. Just white people reflecting on the whiteness of their group”. In efforts to make outdoor spaces more accessible to all students, MMC has created the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer position, currently held by You Mak. Since the creation of this position, MCC has led several trips that cater specifically to BIPOC students. Although current initiatives have a limited scope with Covid-19 restrictions, the club plans to increase awareness and availability of activities particularly for students underrepresented in outdoor recreation spaces. You Mak has also spearheaded the creation of Midd FIRE (Fostering Inclusive Recreation Experiences), a student organization aimed at creating a safe, supportive community of and for BIPOC outdoor recreationists. “It’s a wider issue of people not represented or being able to access the outdoors...Being able to get more people outside is my main goal,” she said. You Mak also noted the importance of making outdoor recreation equitable at a college like Middlebury, which is known both for its predominantly white and wealthy population and its close ties to the environment. You Mak’s primary goal is to increase the visibility of a BIPOC outdoor affinity group within largely white-dominated outdoor organizations and spaces through the increased representation and availability of trips to students of color. Brooker, the outdoor interest house and another hub for crunchy culture on campus, is also grappling with questions related to the outdoors and exclusivity. “Within Brooker, we’ve realized that this sort of monolithic “crunchy culture” is really quite exclusive and can make people feel distinctly unwelcome, so we’re trying to change that, but it’s hard. When Brooker is seen as a space where “crunchy” people are, that helps set the vibe for what that looks like on campus,” Hawkins said. Hannah Gellert ’22 shared that Brooker has made some efforts to become more inclusive this year after informally meeting with the SGA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, including holding more open houses and changing the working on their application. However, she admits that there is more to be done to combat the whiteness of outdoor spaces and “crunchy culture.” “[Brooker being a majority-white space] is a good example of the overlapping of Midd being a historically white space and the outdoors being a white space. And then, you see that representative who the house has inside of it. Part of that is that you don't want to tokenize people and be like, you’re a person of color, so we're going to automatically take you into the house. Because that's also not productive.” To challenge and subvert stereotypes associated with “crunchy culture,” You Mak encourages students to reflect on “what [we] grew up thinking, what mainstream environmental culture teaches people and [how to look] critically at spaces at Middlebury and see what can be improved.”
The Rotary Club of Middlebury donated $10,000 this spring to Kickstart Middlebury, a program that will offer start-up cash and other support to new businesses looking to occupy storefronts in downtown Middlebury. “One of the reasons why we were so excited to support Kickstart Middlebury is that we hope that it was an opportunity to support people who have always supported us,” said Maureen Conrad, president of Middlebury Rotary, in an interview with The Campus. The program was launched by Better Middlebury Partnership (BMP) and will offer packages valued at more than $20,000 to three to five applicants. These packages include a cash grant and free or discounted services from other businesses, such as bookkeeping consultation from the Addison County Economic Development Corporation or print advertising in the Addison Independent. BMP will also help the selected businesses find storefronts in Middlebury and work out their lease agreements. “Filling empty storefronts and other spaces is essential to bringing economic vitality and energy back to Middlebury,” Karen Duguay of BMP said in a press release. The donation to Kickstart represents a shift in operations for the Rotary Club, as the organization typically supports nonprofits. Since both the Middlebury Bridge and Rail Project and restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic have imposed financial strain on local businesses, the Rotary Club wanted to find a way to help. “As you drive through downtown Middlebury, it can be a little depressing sometimes to see so many vacant storefronts in such a wonderful town,” Conrad said. “We’ve been looking for opportunities to help the business community, and this seems like a very logical way for us to do that.” The decision to use the funds for Kickstart Middlebury was reached through a club vote after Duguay spoke with their members. The donation came from the Rotary Club’s rainy day fund. “We’ve been very fortunate over the past two years to develop a little bit of a surplus — we had a little money put away for a rainy day,” Conrad said. “And we decided that if this wasn’t a rainy day, then we weren’t really sure what would count.” Kickstart Middlebury is primarily made possible through funds allocated through the town of Middlebury’s business development fund. Donations, such as that from the Rotary Club, will help the program assist more applicants. “With Middlebury Rotary doing this, we’re hoping that it will inspire other businesses and other civic organizations to do the same,” Conrad said. In addition to donating to Kickstart Middlebury, the organization also modified the way it will contribute to community suppers sponsored by the Charter House of Middlebury. In a typical year, the Rotary Club volunteers at the community suppers during the holidays and gives gifts to recipients. This year, the Rotary Club bought Middlebury Money to donate to recipients to encourage them to spend money in town instead. Middlebury Money is a check that is drawn against an account owned by BMP at the National Bank of Middlebury. It functions like regular money, but it can only be used at Middlebury businesses. This was a big change for us, but it was a wonderful way to help folks in our community that we’ve worked with before,” Conrad said. More information about Kickstart Midlebury can be found at kickstartmiddlebury.com.
Students struggle to reschedule appointments following halt in Johnson & Johnson vaccine administration
Many students have found their vaccination appointments canceled after Vermont paused the administering of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccines through April 23. The decision follows a CDC and FDA recommendation to halt use of the vaccine until a rare blood clotting condition — found in six out of 6.8 million vaccine recipients — is investigated. Although Gov. Phil Scott has declared that students are not currently eligible unless they are permanent residents of Vermont or plan to remain in the state this summer, many who have accessed appointments to receive the J&J vaccine have struggled to reschedule them. Scott tweeted on Tuesday that Vermonters who had made J&J vaccine appointments for April 13 would be contacted about rescheduling. Those affected were instructed to contact the Vermont Department of Health vaccine call center to get an appointment before the end of the month, according to a tweet from the department. Kasey Mazzone ’23 received an email from the Department of Health on April 13 stating that her J&J appointment at Middlebury American Legion — which had originally been scheduled for that afternoon — was canceled. “Your Appointment below has been cancelled. If this was done in error, please visit our website to reschedule,” the email said. Charlie Caldwell ’22 also had an appointment for the J&J vaccine on April 13 at American Legion that was canceled. He received two emails from the Department of Health at 9 a.m. on Tuesday. One mistakenly notified him that a testing appointment had been canceled due to “unforeseen circumstances,” while the other was identical to the email that Mazzone received. Mazzone later received a call from the department and eventually made an appointment in Middlebury for April 26, and Caldwell scheduled an appointment online for the Moderna vaccine on April 29 in Bennington. But some students were not able to get an April appointment — despite the Department of Health’s efforts. Aditya Jain ’22, whose appointment for the J&J vaccine at the Hannaford Pharmacy was also cancelled on April 13, was not able to reschedule his appointment through the department until May 14. “What are the odds, really?” Jain said. “I just kind of laughed it off.” As an international student, Jain may need to find accommodation in Vermont past the end of finals week or travel back to Vermont in order to receive his second dose. Vermont’s decision to pause J&J appointments through April 23 has led other students to seek appointments well outside of Addison County, as limited availability and weeks-long wait times may inhibit some from receiving both shots of a two-dose vaccine before the end of the semester. Some students have been able to find earlier appointments less than an hour’s drive across the Vermont-New York border. Though most travel is currently restricted to Addison County, students can seek approval from the college to cross state lines for vaccine appointments if the trip can be completed in a single day. Some students scheduled out-of-state appointments within a day of their original appointment and decided not to ask permission to travel. Other students have struggled to find any vaccination appointment after a cancellation. Ananya Manjunath ’23 — whose appointment for the J&J vaccine was canceled on April 13 — also found that nothing was available until the middle of May and most were located more than an hour away from campus. Without a car on campus, Manjunath was worried she could not make it there and has yet to reschedule her appointment. “I was really hoping that maybe [the health department] would do it for me, since I had already scheduled one and they canceled it due to reasons outside of my control,” Manjunath said. In an email to students sent on April 15, Dean of Students Derek Doucet announced that a plan was in the works to help transport students to vaccine appointments. “Thus far, appointments have been most readily available in Rutland, and our transportation plan will, at least initially, focus there,” Doucet wrote. In that same email, Doucet announced that students living or working on campus this summer will be required to be vaccinated. Students staying in Vermont over the summer become eligible on April 19, and the email encouraged students to sign up “immediately” once registration opens. The email stated that all out-of-state students will be eligible beginning on April 30.
Gov. Phil Scott responded to criticism of his decision to prioritize Vermonters of color in a press release on April 5, calling the attacks “vitriolic and inappropriate.” “Unfortunately, the legacy of racism in America, and in Vermont, still drives a lot of anger and fear,” Scott said. The attacks were in response to the new vaccination eligibility group created for BIPOC residents that Scott implemented on April 1. Hundreds of messages against the policy had been received by health officials and Scott’s office, although no threats against the health department have been recorded, Scott’s press secretary Jason Maulucci told VTDigger. Several conservative politicians and media personalities also expressed their discontent publicly on social media. “This is blatantly racist,” U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said in a tweet quoting Gov. Scott’s April 1 announcement. Similarly, alt-right political activist Jack Posobiec called Gov. Scott’s statement “a felony.” “Yuck,” conservative commentator Allie Beth Stuckey tweeted in response to Gov. Scott’s announcement. In his press release, Gov. Scott emphasized that the policy was a response to the lagging vaccination rates of BIPOC Vermonters, as well as the increased Covid-19 prevalence and hospitalizations among Vemonters of color. “This is a population of our neighbors already facing health equity disadvantages as a result of historical inequities and injustices,” Scott said. Read Scott’s full press release here.
An EF1 tornado touched down near Painter Road in Middlebury during the heavy storms on Friday afternoon, injuring two and causing damage to several houses. One of the two people injured was a child, who was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. One home near 112 Painter Road was deemed uninhabitable by rescue crews, and the Red Cross was called in to assist the family occupying the home. Middlebury resident Amanda Werner told NBC5 that she was working outside when winds from the tornado caused her to tumble across the yard. Werner suffered a scalp laceration that was treated by EMTs in the area. The tornado also ripped trees from the ground, detached a standing garage from a house and flipped a car. Werner Tree Farm, which was in the path of the tornado, suffered minor damage. https://twitter.com/MichaelWassers1/status/1375778568094023680 Meteorologist Tyler Jankoski and his team at NBC5 were the first to call in the tornado. “The urgency was there immediately and it was unlike any storm that I’ve ever covered in Vermont in four years' time,” Jankoski said in an interview with The Campus. According to the Storm Event Database at the National Weather Service (NWS), the tornado on Friday was the second to touch down in Addison County since 1950, with the only other tornado occurring in 1965 in New Haven. “Out of all tornadoes [in Vermont] since 1950, only one has occurred in March, so it’s an extremely rare occurrence,” Michael Wasserstein ’21 said. Wassertein worked with NBCUniversal as a meteorology intern for the past few years and taught a winter-term workshop in meteorology. Jankoski noted that an unusually warm March brought high levels of humidity preceding the storm. “With climate change, we’re seeing warmer spells of weather more frequently than we used to at all points in the year. That opens up the door for severe weather,” Jankoski said. Jankoski and his team identified the tornado through its debris signature, which is visible on radar and happens when a tornado sucks debris into the air. “We saw debris in the air on radar up to five-thousand feet,” Jankoski said. “The only way that can happen is if you have a tornado, on the ground, damaging things and sucking up debris. The tornado lasted five minutes and winds reached 110 miles per hour, according to the NWS. The agency did not warn residents of the tornado before it touched down. “Tornadoes are the most difficult meteorological phenomenon to forecast,” Wasserstein said. The tornado on Friday was caused by instability in the atmosphere combined with heavy winds and rain. Correction: An earlier version of this article misclassified the tornado as an F1. The tornado was actually an EF1 using the Enhanced Fujita Scale. In addition, an earlier version of this article misspelled Werner Tree Farm.
Update — Thursday, April 1 The college released vaccination guidance for students in an all-school email sent today: Students with appointments or a first dose should keep their appointment, and all individuals meeting eligibility requirements should book an appointment as soon as possible Black, Indigenous and people of color, as well as those who live with them, are eligible to receive a vaccine. Students should contact Miguel Fernández or Naomi Neff for a special code, employees should contact their healthcare provider. Vermont residents, students living off campus and all students planning to stay in Vermont over the summer should register now, and sign up when they meet eligibility requirements. All students involved with summer programs, language schools, research, or summer employment at Middlebury can sign up using their Vermont address when they are eligible. Out-of-state students within a safe same-day driving distance must receive approval from the Dean of Students office to travel. Those beyond a safe driving distance should sign up for vaccinations where they plan to spend the summer. Update — Wednesday, March 31 The college has advised students not to cancel existing appointments, shared that they have a plan for facilitating vaccinations on campus should doses become available and noted that students can seek approval to travel to their home state for vaccinations if it is within driving distance. Gov. Phil Scott doubled down on his rule that out-of-state students (excluding those planning to stay in Vermont during the summer) are ineligible to receive Vermont Covid-19 vaccines in a statement sent to The Campus today. He said the state expects that out-of-state students who do not meet eligibility requirements to be eligible on April 30. —— Out-of-state students who are attending college in Vermont are ineligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, Gov. Phil Scott said during a press conference today. Students also cannot use their college addresses to claim Vermont residency, according to Scott’s response to a Vermont Cynic reporter’s question in the same conference. Scott said that students who are both Vermont residents and college students in the state may be vaccinated, but those who maintain their out-of-state residency cannot be at this time. “Depending on what we get for a supply when we get to the end, we may be able to fulfil that and offer it to those from out of state,” Gov. Scott said. “But at this point in time, we want to make sure that we take care of Vermonters first — as other states have done as well — and then we’ll move on to the next phase if possible. But that will be after we get to 16 and over Vermont students and the Vermont population.” This announcement comes as a surprise to many students, as college students are counted in the Vermont census and are able to vote in local elections. And many out-of-state students have already received at least one shot in Vermont, or have successfully registered for vaccine appointments. These guidelines also contradict the information Middlebury shared with students last week, which stated that students would be able to use their college address to register for vaccine appointments. Vermont Commissioner of Health Mark Levine cited the issue of students needing to be in Vermont for both doses — and the fact that April 19 is only the date that eligibility begins for ages 16 and up and not the date that vaccination will occur — as additional reasons for not extending vaccine eligibility. He added that he has been in conversation with colleges to vaccinate students on campus once it is possible. In their March 25 update, college administrators shared that they hoped to offer vaccinations to students and employees through the school but were still in conversation with the state government. According to the Vermont Health Department website, people who live in another state can receive the vaccine if they are currently eligible through their occupation or setting, or if they “moved to Vermont within the last 6 months with the intention of becoming a resident” and are in a qualifying age group.
Vermont broke its one-day record for active cases yesterday, reporting new 251 cases, according to state health officials. This brings the total number of Covid-19 cases in Vermont to 18,498 and the seven-day percent positive average to 1.7%. Despite rising cases, Governor Scott does not plan on revising the state’s reopening plans. This record coincides with the first day that Vermonters over 60 years of age are eligible to make Covid-19 vaccine appointments as part of the state’s recently announced vaccine schedule. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 34.5% of Vermonters have received at least one dose of the vaccine. New variants of Covid-19 are on the rise, with the UK variant B.1.1.7 appearing in testing samples at the University of Vermont. Dean of Students Derek Doucet referenced these variants in an all-school email on March 25, calling students to continue adherence to Covid-19 guidelines. “This concerning news should give us all pause and requires renewed commitment to essential health and safety measures in the final eight weeks of the semester,” Doucet said. As of March 26, no additional restrictions on campus had been put into place.
All adult Vermonters will be able to sign up for a Covid-19 vaccine appointment within the next month, according to an announcement released by Gov. Scott today . College students, part of the final age group of eligible adults, will be able to sign starting on April 19. According to Scott, 30% of Vermonters have already received one dose of the vaccine. Currently, people over the age of 65 or those over age of 16 with certain preexisting conditions are eligible, with eligibility expanding to those 60 and over on March 25. “Everyone in the final age band could be finished in June, which is why I’ve used the 4th of July as a marker for when things will feel somewhat normal again,” Scott said in a tweet on Friday. This news comes as President Biden recently announced that all Americans will be eligible for a vaccine starting May 1. https://twitter.com/govphilscott/status/1372928271046881280?s=21
When Middlebury students arrived this semester, their rooms were full of snacks to tide them over through room quarantine. But as the dining halls opened and students could pick up treats from MiddXpress or meals from The Grille, many of those snacks were left uneaten — about 3,000 pounds of them. Emma Crockford ’22.5 set out to make sure that food didn’t go to waste, and started a food drive to bring those 3,000 pounds of food to the Addison County Teen Center, The Charter House shelter and Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects in Addison County (HOPE). The food drive began in Starr Hall, the residential building where Crockford lives. “I realized that no one in Starr was using their food bags, and a lot of it was ending up in the hallways or in kitchens,” Crockford said. Once the donations in Starr Hall started piling up, Crockford asked friends Ciara Burke ’22, Trey Atkins ’22.5 and Grace Kellogg ’22 to help set up more stations around campus. Every few days, the organizers would collect food and store it in Crockford’s room. “I don’t think Emma or I really expected it to take off,” Atkins said. “We’re all so happy that it did.” Crockford initially intended to donate the food solely to the Addison County Teen Center, where she has worked in the past. The center focuses on providing safe after-school programming for teens in the community. “I initially called the teen center in town because I thought that I would only have four or five bags,” Crockford said. “But I ended up having hundreds and hundreds of bags.” Once the organizers realized that the donations would greatly exceed the amount that the center could accept, Crockford began to reach out to more organizations in the area, including HOPE and the Charter House of Middlebury. Both organizations provide services to low-income families in the area. “Thanks to a concerted student effort, 2,550 pounds of food was collected, and the Center for Community Engagement delivered this bounty to HOPE’s food shelf,” HOPE said in an Instagram post on March 5. Crockford credits Liz Cleveland, program administrator at the Center for Community Engagement, for her role in delivering the food to organizations during campus quarantine. The donations ended up totaling more than seven car-fulls of food. “The most rewarding part of the food drive was working with Emma, who also was surprised at the massive amount of food students dropped off,” Cleveland said in an email to The Campus. “She handled it all cheerfully upbeat, rallying friends with a ‘can-do’ attitude and thanking everyone around her as she went.” Atkins said that finding the will to act in the face of a challenge is the hardest part of accomplishing an action like this, but ultimately makes it rewarding. “That little action is the most difficult thing about a lot of things in life,” he said. “To show that example to the campus right off of the bat sets the bar high. It just makes me so proud to be [Emma’s] friend and be able to help her.”
All articles were approved at Middlebury’s Town Meeting on March 2nd, including a provision allowing retail cannabis stores in Middlebury and a victory for Middlebury Residential Director Esther Thomas. The articles were approved by Australian ballot instead of by the typical voice-vote due to the rising prevalence of Covid-19. “My fellow Middlebury residents spoke loud and clear at the polls today, welcoming the downtown economic development boost and public safety benefits that regulated cannabis retailers will bring to our town,” High Bailiff David Silberman said. Silberman was a leader in the Vote Yes Movement, which advocated for Middlebury to opt-in to retail cannabis stores as part of Vermont’s Act 164. The measure, Article 3 on the ballot, was approved 951–546. The ballot also included a vote to ratify Ripton's decision to withdraw from the Addison Central School District (ACSD) to create its own independent school district. This measure passed in all six ACSD towns — including Middlebury — meaning that the withdrawal will now be considered by the State Board of Education. Ripton resident Amy McGlashan, who serves as a director at the Middlebury Center for Careers & Internships, was a leading voice against Ripton’s departure from the ACSD. While disappointed, McGlashan was largely expecting the outcome. “I was hopeful but not optimistic,” she said. “I certainly hope for [Ripton’s] success, but remain highly skeptical that an independent Ripton district will best meet the educational needs of our disadvantaged and most vulnerable students.” Thomas prevailed over Andy Hooper for the contested selectboard seat 812–633, meaning she will serve on the selectboard for at least the next year. Incumbents ran unopposed for the remaining seats, which included two additional selectboard seats won by Lindsey Fuentes-George and Farhad Khan. The remaining items on the ballot, including the budget and tax collection days, were also approved by wide margins.
The Middlebury Police Department was put on alert last week following the announcement that the college planned to rescind the honorary degree of Rudolph Giuliani. Middlebury Chief of Police Tom Hanley said that the college and the department were “keeping the lines of communication open” in case of backlash against the Middlebury community, according to an interview with the Addison Independent. Such concerns were heightened by the increased activity of far-right groups in the wake of riots at the US Capitol on Jan. 6. On Jan. 11, in an emergency response bulletin, Hanley urged anyone with information about potential threats to submit a tip. “There is currently heightened concern over the upcoming inauguration and other events that may be targeted for disruption. This affects everyone,” Hanley wrote in the bulletin. At the time of publication, The Campus is not aware of any credible threats that have arisen in Middlebury following the announcement. Giulani began serving as former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer in 2018 and would later become a main contributor to efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Following an editorial written by The Campus, Middlebury College rescinded his honorary degree on Jan. 12. Dean of Students Derek Doucet sent an all-campus email immediately following the announcement recommending that students call their local police department if they felt threatened or received alarming communication while not on campus. The email also noted that the Middlebury Police Department was available for students with similar concerns on campus. In an email to The Campus, Middlebury Interim Director of Public Safety Daniel Gaiotti reiterated the importance of student safety, but refused to comment further on any specific preparations. “Student health and safety is Middlebury's highest priority,” Gaiotti wrote. “The college routinely monitors local and national events as they relate to campus safety, but it does not provide detailed security information for safety reasons.” These concerns were part of a wider movement across the nation to prepare for any violence in the days leading up to President Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20. After threats of violence at state capitals across the nation, the Vermont State Police (VSP) heightened police presence in Montpelier from Jan. 17 to Jan. 20. The last press release from the VSP on Jan. 20 stated that “there had been no reports of any incidents, arrests or citations” in Montpelier in days leading up to and on Jan. 20. The Middlebury Police Department receives intelligence information from the Vermont Intelligence Center (VIC) and the Southern Poverty Law Center, according to Hanley in a recent interview with the Addison County Independent. The VIC’s website states that it works in close collaboration with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to “identify patterns and indicators of criminal and terrorism-related activity in the state.
Rainbow Pediatrics announced last week that a staff member tested positive for Covid-19 on Nov. 2, prompting the office to stop in-person operations until Nov. 9. The clinic is working with the Vermont Department of Health to identify and inform any close contacts of the staff member, according to an announcement on their website and Facebook page. Following the positive test, all staff members quarantined at home for a week and then received a negative test before returning to work. During that week, the office offered virtual telemedicine appointments to patients before resuming in-person visits on Nov. 9 at 8 a.m. “We continue to remind everyone to practice physical distancing, consistent mask wearing and good hand hygiene,” said the Nov. 8 announcement on their Facebook page. This news comes as Vermont breaks records for the highest number of Covid-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
Congressman Welch has represented Vermont in the House of Representatives as the state’s sole delegate since he was elected in 2006. After launching his career in politics during the civil rights era, Welch’s career has focused on energy efficiency, housing discrimination and bringing broadband to rural Americans. Looking toward a likely win in his re-election bid this year, The Campus sat down with the congressman to reflect on over a decade of work in the House. Reflecting on over a decade in Congress, what do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment and why? On climate change and economic recovery… I think the biggest accomplishments that we had were clearly during the Obama years: it was the passage of the Affordable Care Act. I served on the Energy and Commerce Committee and I was very, very active in that effort. The biggest accomplishment in the House — but didn’t pass in the Senate — was the Waxman-Markey climate change bill, which we passed in that same session of Congress. That would have reduced emissions by 80% by 2050, and all of us are so disappointed that we lost that by one vote in the Senate. The last economic crisis, of course, was during the Obama Administration, when Wall Street collapsed and brought down Main Street. I played an active role in the American Recovery Act, which started to get us back on our feet. I’ve been a leader on climate change issues. My role in the [Waxman-Markey bill] was to be the principal advocate for the energy efficiency aspects of that bill. Since then, I’ve been a champion in Congress on climate change, particularly the benefits of energy efficiency. I got involved in that when I was in the Vermont senate, and one of the things that I look back on with fond memories is the climate march that was organized by Bill McKibben when he was starting 350.org. He and Middlebury students led a march from Montpelier to Burlington in the election, back in 2006. I was one of the speakers at that original march. How do you think we can build trust in politics again? Do you think politics have always been this divisive? On Trump and social media... [Politics] hasn’t been this divisive. Trump has embraced division as a tactic. One of his first acts as president was to ban people coming into this country on the basis of religion. That’s shocking. One of his policies was to separate children from families at the southern border — and I was one of the first members of Congress to go down there and witness that firsthand. I went to the Texas-Mexico border. And even today, we’ve learned that there are over 500 children where the government has no idea where their parents are. Trump plays racial politics to a degree that no one has ever seen. He won this election with three million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton, and he’s done everything that he can to intensify division rather than create unity since then. There’s another issue here that will take significant thought and effort to overcome it, and that’s social media. What we see with the explosion of social media is an explosion of misinformation, of hate, of conspiracy theories — and it’s created a toxic, polluted atmosphere for dialogue about the problems that we collectively face. I think that’s a big challenge for our democracy. When there's no norms and no mutual respect, then it makes it much more difficult to find common ground. That’s a big problem, and Trump is a master at understanding how this works and he exploited it and he was very successful at mowing down all of his Republican opponents in those primaries. This is a real challenge to our democracy. On finding common ground with Republicans… There’s two ways [to deal with partisanship] — personal and political. The personal way of dealing with it is that you show respect. You listen more than you talk. You look for where there’s common ground. So, for example, I am a leader of the rural broadband caucus. I find ways of interacting where it’s about us trying to solve the challenges of the people who we represent. I have a colleague from West Virginia, [Rep.] David McKinley. He’s a Republican, and he is a good partner of mine when working on energy efficiency. On the other hand, he’s from coal country, and he attacks the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is causing a loss of coal jobs. I don’t agree with him on [attacking the EPA], but we agree on energy efficiency. As a way of trying to build a relationship with him and show respect for the coal miners, I went to stay with him in his house in Harrison County, West Virginia, and we spent a day in a coal mine — we went down 900 feet and 4.5 miles in. We spent an afternoon being with coal workers who were working on a coal seam. The point I was making was that I’m against coal [in that] I’m for clean energy, but I’m for the coal miners. Those coal miners did not create climate change. In fact, those coal miners are losing jobs, and they’re hard workers. I compared the coal miners to our dairy farmers as the hardest working people I’ve ever met. I saw how much that gave me an opportunity to be heard, by David and by many others who began to see that I’m advocating for clean energy, but it’s not because I’m against those coal miners. I’m against a lot of the coal company owners, but the miners are good people. That’s a way of showing personal respect and creating trust. Institutionally is where Trump is pretty toxic. He is attacking institutions instead of building them up, instead of reforming them and strengthening them. When I say institutions, I mean everything from the court systems to the intelligence community to the EPA, where we have lost one-thousand scientists who have left in despair because of political manipulation. We have to build up our institutions and have trust in institutions to build trust in goals that are important to our society. So, on a personal level, it’s how you interact with people. On a political level, it’s a commitment to reforming, not destroying, institutions that we all need. Do you have any fun stories from working in Congress for over a decade? What are some of your best days working in Congress? On cheese (and getting the job done)... One of my best days was when Mateo Kehler, who was the head of Jasper Hill Cheese, showed up at my office in D.C. in a t-shirt and cargo shorts. He was in a rage-slash-panic, because the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) just issued a rule that said cheesemakers could no longer store their cheese on wooden boards. Pretty crazy, because we have been storing cheese on wooden boards since the last supper. The background is that they did an inspection of a cheesemaking facility in upstate New York and found contaminated cheese, and there were woodboards there. As it turns out, the whole place was contaminated; it’s not that the boards were contaminated. [The cheesemaking facility in upstate New York] really had back practices and needed to be closed down, and they were. But the bad practices were the problem, not the use of wood. So in any event, this would have been catastrophic for this award-winning cheese company, Jasper Hill. What do we do? So this was a while ago, when Paul Ryan was the chair of the Budget Committee. He’s Republican, and he and I don’t agree on anything. He represents Wisconsin, where they make a lot of cheese, and he and I used to kid a lot about who had better cheese. So, I went on the floor and found him, and I said ‘Paul, we got us a cheese problem.’ I explained it to him, and within a day, we called up the FDA to explain our problem. We said, ‘we’ve got a cheese problem, and you’re soon going to have a budget problem.’ And it got fixed. It’s an only-in-Vermont story because you literally have this citizen, who is running this wonderful enterprise called Jasper Hill Cheese, show up unannounced in his t-shirt and cargo shorts to tell me what the problem was. It’s existential. And in a few days, it was solved. And it was solved in a significant part because I had a good pre-existing relationship with Paul Ryan, and I knew that, when it came to cheese and how it would affect Wisconsin cheese makers, Paul and I would be on the same page. It was an interesting combination of a Vermonter coming and dropping in and feeling completely comfortable in the office and asking for something that couldn’t be done, and we did it all in a couple of days. On race and Representative John Lewis… Another wonderful story: I got my start in politics in the civil rights movement. When I was in college, I dropped out of college to go to Chicago to work for a community organization that was fighting discriminatory housing. I dropped out of college for what would have been my junior year. I worked there, and then I returned to college, and then I returned to Chicago as a Robert Kennedy Fellow to resume my work when I got out [of college]. During what would’ve been my junior year in college, I went down to Atlanta to the Ebenezer Baptist Church where Martin Luther King, at that time, was the pastor. And I was in the church, and he spoke. It was a powerful experience to be with him when he spoke in that church. And afterwards, I went upstairs when he had a press conference, and there were very few people there, and he was denouncing the Vietnam War. My whole beginnings in politics were inspired by the racial justice movements of the late 60s — the voting rights movement. Fast forward, I’m in Congress and I had a colleague that I revered from afar for a long time, and that was [Rep.] John Lewis. We, in the House, were very frustrated that Speaker Paul Ryan would not take up any gun safety legislation. We protested on the floor, and I spent a good deal of time sitting on the floor next to John Lewis when we were protesting in Congress about gun violence. All of us who served with John regarded it as a special privilege to be with him and to be his colleague. That memory, of sitting on the floor of the House, next to John, is probably one of my favorite, most proud moments. His advocacy was [to] get in good trouble… cause good trouble. Now we’re continuing with the effort to deal with the incredible racism in our county that is systemic and ingrained. With the leadership of the Black Congressional Caucus, we passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which, unfortunately, Senator [Mitch] McConnell won’t pass in the senate. That continuation of the opportunity to work on racial justice issues means a lot to me, and I really appreciate the work that the students at Middlebury are doing to bring attention to systemic racism and try to find practical ways to address it.