To Our Middlebury Community,
Middlebury College represents a community that has great potential. Our community has worked diligently over the last few years to shift the way we engage with one another. This said there is still much we need to do to work to create the collaborative community we all want to see. Spring 2021 had many instances of bias and discrimination. From racist incidents like students choosing to chant, “White supremacy”, to antisemitic incidents occurring towards members of our Jewish community to transphobic remarks and actions being taken against our trans community, Middlebury has not been a perfect campus. There is much work that needs to happen to allow all of us to feel welcome and safe in our Middlebury community.
One of the core community values we all share at Middlebury College is our Honor Code; however, this Honor Code focuses largely on academics and not what it means to actually be a community. We have community standards, but no community ownership over them. As the semester drew to a close, we co-sponsored an SGA bill that aims to address this issue. You can take a read of it here and if you are interested in being a part of this group, send us an email here.
CSM Executive Board
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
While the Concerned Students of Middlebury was created to provide an avenue for making a change in the Middlebury community, we also are obligated to speak out against injustices that impact us as a global community. Injustices anywhere undoubtedly represent a threat to justice everywhere and, with that in mind, as well as our organizational values, we want to unequivocally state that we believe the liberation of Palestinians from the oppressive forces enacting violence upon innocent lives is not only something we should all desire but a necessity for the continued amelioration of our society.
CSM Executive Board
The Concerned Students of Middlebury have deliberated to find the most equitable ways to make an endorsement of candidates in this election cycle. We have made the following endorsements for candidates based solely on their platforms and their record at Middlebury College for supporting marginalized communities and uplifting voices that have been underrepresented. The CSM Executive Board is excited to endorse:
CSM Executive Board*
*In this endorsement process, our Executive Board acted impartially and required all candidates to recuse themselves from the formation of the endorsement committee, formulation of all endorsement procedures, and vote on endorsement.
To Our Middlebury Community,
Black lives still matter. We started our first message with these words and unfortunately, approximately a year later, we still are faced with the same issues that require the reiteration of the phrase.
The recent murder of yet another Black human, Daunte Wright, a twenty-year-old Black man, represents another piece of evidence supporting unfortunate truth of the fabric of the United States of America: pervasive systemic racism, and specifically anti-blackness, continues to exist and will persist until we as a society take action to dismantle the structures that contribute to it.
This is a heavy statement, but one that needs to be said, without apology or pause. When we as a community speak about being allies and practicing anti-racism, it’s equally important we address the fact that these issues will not go away overnight, especially without tangible action. It takes work and effort from all of us as a community to ensure tragic atrocities such as this can be prevented. When people demonstrate a refusal to take action to support marginalized people, they aid in the perpetuation of these systems.
As individuals in a small college community, it can sometimes feel difficult to find ways to be involved. We have compiled a list of things you can do to work against these systems right now:
To the Wright family, although we know you likely will not see this, we will never know the grief that your family is feeling right now; however, we feel indescribable pain alongside you and want to work to dismantle the systems that allowed this to happen. It is the least we can do.
Myles Maxie, CSM Co-President
with permission from
The CSM Executive Board
To Our Middlebury Community,
The last few months have marked a potential turning point in the COVID-19 pandemic. The release of multiple vaccines and continued progress towards greater public access works to grant all of us a great deal of hope in making it through a difficult time, one in which many of us have dealt with great loss and grief. We want to take a moment to acknowledge that.
Unfortunately, inequities continue to present a threat to our collective community truly moving forward. The recent statements of Governor Phil Scott as it pertains to restricted access to college students not originating from the state of Vermont not only threaten the way in which we consider ourselves as a collective Vermont community, but also the health of the said community. Unvaccinated students living in close quarters, interacting with each other and community members, and receiving only inequitable solutions for a sense of relief is a description of a recipe for disaster. It disregards the simple fact of the matter that— contrary to what Governor Scott seems to suggest— we are still active members of the local community meaning we will continue to influence the community prevalence and spread of COVID-19 if left without true assistance.
With basic consideration, it is clear that all students, including those not originating from Vermont, should be vaccinated in the same mode as any other Vermont resident while actively residing in Vermont; however, the most important corollary of this that requires even more attention is our sub-populations who are at higher risk of infection. A college student not originating from the state of Vermont is not immune to COVID-19 nor any of the ailments that exacerbate the illness. They are equally at risk as vulnerable populations who happen to have been an official resident of Vermont for a longer period of time. They deserve equitable access and treatment as their susceptibility to the COVID-19 virus is a reality and their official residency does not change the fact that they deserve treatment and protection.
COVID-19 poses a threat to each and every one of us. Living in a small residential community with communal housing only exacerbates the threat posed by the virus alone Simply put: COVID-19 does not show exception to an individual based on the state they originate from. We are all able to contract the virus and unfortunately spread it. Delaying vaccination of thousands of students for thirty days can be detrimental to the collective community health. We urge Governor Scott to treat the students of the colleges in this state— who were counted in the census and thus played a role in dictating the number of vaccines Vermont received to begin with— equally to all other residents as it pertains to vaccinations, given we are held to the same expectations in terms of other obligations (taxes, local statutes, interaction with the economy). If you agree, please consider reading our recent suggestion to the state of Vermont and Middlebury College and signing on here. We will be delivering this to the proper channels by Sunday for further consideration and action.
We want to end this by taking the time and space to acknowledge that regardless of the verbiage of Governor Scott, you are as much an integral part of Vermont as anyone else. When you shop here, work in the state, pay taxes, attend school, and contribute to the very fabric of what we have come to know as Vermont life, you belong here and should consider yourself to be a Vermonter if you so choose.
Concerned Students of Middlebury
To Our Middlebury Community,
Community is predicated on ensuring all people are not only included but are safely incorporated into the society we are aiming to create. Racial tensions in this country have undoubtedly highlighted the fact that we have significant work to do to create the community we all would like to see.
The blatant hatred and violence being enacted against Asian American and Pacific Islander folks in recent months has only worsened and has largely been overlooked. The racist, hate-filled crime occurring last week in Georgia, in which eight humans were senselessly murdered on the sole basis of their race and gender, is only the most recent instance underscoring the need for us to work towards dismantling structures that work against an anti-racist society.
As we consider what we can do as a community to instill the ideals of anti-racism, we must also look at tangible actions we can take. We have compiled a list of potential resources for community members across backgrounds to potentially use to practice introspection as well as community action. Take a look below:
Direct Possible Action:
We would like to conclude this email by acknowledging humans who were lost in this attack:
We thank you for reading this and hope you can use some of the above resources to promote anti-racism in our shared communities.
Concerned Students of Middlebury
Words have power.
Even with the best intentions it is still possible to cause harm to even those we aim to represent and provide space for. We at Concerned Students of Middlebury find personal accountability to be important. As we examine ways to combat the systemic oppression and marginalization of underrepresented and underserved communities, we must also turn this critical lens on ourselves and analyze ways we may contribute to this cycle.
While there are certainly instances we may have missed, we do want to address two of our previous transgressions.
We want to be held accountable.. We all have a responsibility to learn and grow as conscious community members. We implore all of you to do the same and join us in our mission to both grow and support our campus community as a whole.
The CSM Founders
We first want to thank you in advance for taking the time to read this letter in its entirety and humbly urge you to thoughtfully reflect on our words. Our ultimate goal is to move towards making Middlebury College a safer space for Black individuals and other marginalized communities. This process of reconciliation and healing begins when student concerns are taken seriously, so we ask that you take this first step with us. Thank you.
To President Patton, members of the Senior Leadership Group, and Middlebury College community members:
“Black Lives Matter”
This statement is plain and simple, and its overcomplication can cause it to become diluted. Furthermore, discussion of the current protests responding to police brutality can become harmful if done without proper care, as demonstrated in the May 31st, 2020 message from the Office of the President. This message is an example of how overcomplicated discussions about the state of our nation have understated today’s current reality and in doing so, disappointed Black members of Middlebury’s community.
To name a few of the offenses in the message sent:
The False Equivalence of the Coronavirus and Racism
The conflation of the Coronavirus— a disease that selects its victims arbitrarily and that has been disproportionately affecting black and minority communities, who have historically been medically neglected— and racism— which derives from the concerted effort of those who hold privilege to work against those without the same level of power— is an incredible macro-aggression. The experiences one endures because of racism versus COVID-19 are vastly different because COVID-19 is largely by circumstance while racism is a conscious decision. To abdicate responsibility for intentional actions is yet another instance of the College’s neglect for its Black students, by way of not acknowledging the difference between choices and circumstance. Additionally, the current pervasive institutionalized racism affecting America deserves its own separate email, especially when COVID-19 has been addressed by the Office of the President multiple times, while racism and its impact on Black individuals has not. In attempting to use fluffy and soft language, the message dances around the severity of our nation's unfortunate situation, leaving Black readers without any true remedy.
The Notion that Racism is a New Concept
Racism did not appear recently to “infect the early days of our American summer” as the message indirectly suggests. This panders to the privileged perspective that White people have been inconvenienced by being forced to confront the reality of racism as summer approaches. White supremacy was the foundation that America was built upon, and racism is an ingrained part of the lives of Black people in America. Black students face that reality every day, both on and off campus. To suggest it is a new circumstance makes light of this harsh reality for the Black community
The Hypocrisy Associated with Middlebury’s Verbal Allegiance to Racial Equity but Lack of Action
The claim that Middlebury seeks to create a safe space for collaboration and a campus against racism directly contradicts the College’s actions. We recently invited Charles Murray to campus for a third time to discuss his racially offensive and scientifically baseless book, "Human Diversity: The Biology of Gender, Race, and Class" where he once again postulates a similar ideology as his earlier racist novel, "The Bell Curve.” The physical and psychological violence that this disproportionately inflicted upon the Black population of Middlebury College was never fully addressed, nor was there any real community reconciliation. Furthermore, the College’s intention to hire outside “security” from unknown and thus unreputable sources is incredibly problematic given the traumatic history of Black individuals being targeted by police, security, and law enforcement in an often fatal manner.
Failing to Specifically Support Black Community Members That Are Disproportionately Impacted by this Situation
The ambiguity in supporting specifically Black staff and students is incredibly problematic in its negation of the difference between Black people and all people of color. In saying, “This is an anxious and difficult time, particularly for students, staff, and faculty of color,” this message reduces the specific struggles of Black individuals in our community who are disproportionately impacted by institutionalized racism. It does our community a disservice to conflate the oppression faced by Black people with that faced by all people of color. Our institution should not hesitate to proclaim that #BlackLivesMatter and failing to do so resembles that of an #AllLivesMatter approach by creating a sense of erasure for Black issues. This is yet another microaggression. It is important that we recognize how other marginalized communities are affected by systems of oppression, but at this time it is necessary we hold space for and honor Black lives.
The Disturbing and Insensitive Use of Air as a Metaphor
The message claims that “in a world beset by two plagues, we are gasping for air”. This use of air as a metaphor, here and throughout the message, is profoundly tone-deaf and offensive, given that George Floyd’s (and before him, Eric Garner’s) final words were “I can’t breathe.” This is deeply disturbing given that Floyd was needlessly asphyxiated for nearly nine minutes, while the Coronavirus—which was also referenced in this letter– is a respiratory illness that inhibits the breathing of its victims. Their juxtaposition is deeply hurtful and strips away the reality and significance of Floyd’s death. Saying "we are gasping for air" begins to minimize the experience of Black people who (1) have legitimately had their breath taken away by police brutality and (2) are at a higher risk of infection of COVID. There is a certain level of privilege held by many in the Middlebury community, who are at lower risk of contracting COVID-19 and are simply able to avoid police brutality. To reiterate, COVID-19 and police brutality are not one in the same, and though the message is not the first instance where they are metaphorically compared, any case of such comparison is deeply offensive and cannot be silently accepted.
This hardly scratches the surface of the harm done to Middlebury’s Black students. This is not the first time that damage has been inflicted on our community. In just the past few years wherein institutional memory can guide us, Middlebury College has been complicit in allowing pervasive racism to exist on our campus. We hope the following instances will be properly recognized:
This list could go on. We hope that by now we have made clear the blatant hypocrisy and performativity of this message, given the College’s history of perpetuating racial injustice.
The habitual dereliction of duty and meaningful action has become characteristic of Middlebury College as an institution. We need definitive action to be taken to put Middlebury on a more appropriate course of supporting its Black students, as well as those from other marginalized backgrounds. We agree that it is necessary to “collaborate with all members of our community to act against racism and become accountable for the work that needs to be done." In the spirit of working together to build a more equitable and aware community, we believe the following actions would be highly beneficial for the healing of Middlebury’s Black students. Find them below:
These are only beginning steps in repairing the damage caused by the historical actions and inaction taken by Middlebury. Please consider the depth of this situation and the importance of each student’s valuable experience while Black at this institution.
We recognize that Middlebury will not be able to immediately fix all of these disparities. However, we ask that this outreach be considered as a starting point for reparations.
With that in mind, the following proposals are potential solutions to hardships faced in the past and present by Black students, other students of color, and the cultural organizations that represent them. We hope these solutions will spark critical conversations with the College Administration about the improvement of the treatment of students of marginalized backgrounds, especially those that are Black.
Suggested Actions to Take for the 2020-2021 School Year:
There comes a time in which Black voices become tired of being silenced; it is unfortunate that we have reached that point in time with Middlebury College. We await your timely response and are hopeful that we will be able to work together to create positive change for marginalized students on campus.
Concerned Students of Middlebury College
The views expressed in these updates are that of the overall CSM Board as an entity, not necessarily as individuals. Additionally, it is our position that these updates should be an official record of the statements of CSM as an organization as it has to do with our operations.