“The Middlebury experience” is often referred to by students, alumni, faculty, parents and tour guides as the all-encompassing vision of student life. These four years are supposed to be a life-changing whirlwind of academic rigor, close friends, athletic victories and personal growth — all while surrounded by the idyllic fall foliage of rural Vermont. But what does this really mean? What truly defines our Middlebury experience?
For some, this year may have been defined by the hoax call about an active shooter in Davis Family Library, the Box Office breach or perhaps the removal of Nutella from dining halls. More likely, you will remember your time at Middlebury for each of the surprising, exciting and frustrating moments, the everyday victories and disappointments that largely determine this school’s spirit and mood: its zeitgeist.
The theme of this year’s Zeitgeist — The Campus’ fifth-annual campus-wide survey — is recalibrating. We asked questions to explore the abundance of Middlebury experiences at this precise moment in time, to learn about how after a year of Covid-19 pandemic-to-endemic transition your attitudes reverted, changed or pivoted entirely.
Zeitgeist 5.0 posed many of the same questions of past Zeitgeist surveys, covering topics ranging from academics to institutional resources to sex and love culture at Middlebury. Have you ever broken the Honor Code? What does your ideal relationship look like? Are you happy?
We also asked new questions in hopes of capturing an honest picture of college life: What is your GPA? If you could choose again, would you still enroll at Middlebury? Do you support affirmative action? We strived to discover the aspects of Middlebury life that do not show up in admissions pamphlets or on campus tours.
Lastly, we asked about your outlook on the college experience: What do you want your impact on Middlebury to be? You told us that you want to build community and make opportunities more accessible. You want to be loved, spread joy and survive your time here. You want to bring back pre-Covid traditions and you want to make new ones. At least one of you wants to “Radicalize Rich Kids and Find Meaning.”
Read this year’s Zeitgeist for a glimpse into the true desires, reflections and resentments of your fellow students. These pages will not give a complete picture of the Middlebury experience, but we hope they will capture a snapshot of life here, if only for a moment.