Most of the women’s swim team was recently suspended from finishing out the season, after members of both the men’s and women’s teams were found to have violated the College’s hazing policy.
At the expense of joining the conversation on this topic a bit late, MiddBlog hopes to examine the case and the reactions to it thus far. The goal is to build a basis for constructive discussion about the broader concerns the situation raises.
This post is longer than average, so hit “Read more” for the rest:
“Middlebury College Violates Its Own Speech Code.” Seeing that headline yesterday on the blog of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) was a bit shocking.
The article refers to the Aunt Des videos, which we already know can lead to some interesting sociopolitical conclusions. FIRE is not offended by the videos. On the contrary,
the point of this post is in no way to condemn the Middlebury administration for putting out these videos. Middlebury promises to protect free speech, and these videos are unquestionably … protected by the First Amendment. Rather, the intent of this post is to point out that broadly worded harassment policies like Middlebury’s encompass so much protected speech that they cannot possibly be enforced across the board, leaving administrators with complete discretion to decide what to punish.
Overall, Middlebury’s speech and harassment codes earn a Red Light, the worst of FIRE’s three categories, reserved for schools with “at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.” The site goes into minute detail about exactly which parts of the College Handbook leave space open for censorship and why. Read more
Saturday Night Live has a recurring segment with Seth Meyers, Amy Poehler and sometimes a special guest in which they address, with appropriate incredulity, the seeming senselessness of something a politician, public figure, or institution has done lately.
This is a tone often taken with Middlebury’s academic distribution requirements – freshmen, don’t worry, there are myriad ways to get rid of your deductive requirement without ever using basic algebra – but especially the geographic distributions. For those blissfully unaware, the regions we must cover in order to graduate as politically correct, socially sensitive world citizens are EUR (Europe), NOR (North America), and AAL (Africa Asia Latin America). In other words, you have to take a class each in the culturally and politically polar opposites of Europe and North America, but the presumably homogenous societies of two-thirds of the world’s non-white populations? Hey, are there any classes on Australia? I think it technically falls under Asia. One J-term quickie on Japanese animation and voila, instant AAL credit! And a total lack of familiarity with the Middle East, the BRIC countries, central Africa, Southeast Asia, or any other one or few of the vastly divergent cultures in these regions.
Is the solution to this to increase the geographical requirements, or get rid of them completely? Any suggestions on change, or an argument for the status quo?
President Liebowitz delivered his fall “State of the College” address to a packed house of faculty, staff, and students this afternoon in McCullough Social Space. An update on his speech from February, the President’s address mainly dealt with the financial issues of the college, and how although we are not out of the water yet, progress has been made that should be recognized. Some key points (paraphrased) in case you missed the event or the live tweeting by @middcampus and yours truly, @middblog:
- This fiscal year (which ended on June 30th) reported a budget surplus, as well an endowment rebound to $815 million. Update: While the endowment, the college’s second greatest source of revenue, is still down from its peak of $962 million, we earned a great 17.7% on the endowment this year, as supposed to the 11% projected in December and the 5% first projected for this year and the coming years.
- The current priorities in this financial reevaluation are as follows: 1. No staff layoffs 2. Protect academics (including our 9:1 student-teacher ratio and student academic resources) 3. Maintain our need-blind policy for domestic students 4. Maintain excellent benefit packages for staff/faculty
- President Liebowitz stressed that it was a “conscious decision to choose the slower path”; meaning not making staff layoffs. The Staff Resources Committee will continue to work this fall to consolidate departments and positions based on common work.
- It is the hope of President Liebowitz and the administration to make this issue as transparent as possible. He noted that financial literacy and a knowledge of this process is important for everyone in the college community.
Ultimately, President Liebowitz hopes that this refocused financial agenda will allow us to put academics back as our top concern here at Midd; that we will be able to reengage in issues that had previously been put on the back burner. This includes but is not limited to a curricular push in the fields of linguistics, global health, and more. We will also be able to focus now on the reaccreditation process and the external review team that will be coming to campus next fall.
The president ended his short, straight and to the point speech by saying that he hopes we will all take a step back from the stress and worry this crisis has caused and take time to recognize the team effort that has been made to get us on the right track.
The full transcript and video of the speech can be found here.