Student protesters at Middlebury in 1970.

10 Steps to Protest at Middlebury College

Middlebury College’s Handbook offers an in depth policy on how to protest. The following text of their “how-to” suggestions are from the Demonstrations and Protests component. To read the policy in full click here.


1.) Protest but please whisper it to yourself in the comfort of your own dorm away from any administrator to avoid enacting change or making the institution aware of the issue.

Students, faculty and staff are, “free to support causes by orderly means that do not disrupt the regular and essential operation of the College or community.”


2.) Do not involve the college, as an institution, “students or student organizations, and individual members of the faculty or staff, speak only for themselves, not for the College as an institution.”


3.) No disruptive behavior at college events (i.e “purposeful blocking the view of others at the event; banners or items that block the audience’s view; noise or action that disrupts the ability of the audience to hear (e.g., shouting out or use of a bull horn)”)


4.) Stop when an administrator or “representative of the college” tells you to stop it or asks you to leave.

“Individuals or groups who disrupt an event or essential operation or fail to leave when asked are in violation of the College’s policy of respect for persons and may also be in violation of the policy regarding disrespect for College officials.”

5.) Comply or be arrested! “Failure to comply may result in arrest for unlawful trespass or other criminal violations.”

6.) Let Public Safety know you are going to protest or demonstrate. Planning and transparency is key.*

“The desire of Middlebury College is to promote intellectual inquiry and exchange in a respectful and civil manner.”

7.) Location. Location. Location. Make sure that your site for protest is not booked by another student organization, faculty member, or group doing a project. Book it through the Events Management page over on go/scheduling.

“Event planners in conjunction with the dean of the College, the Department of Events Management, the speaker or performer, and the Department of Public Safety” will be able to assist in your strides toward civility and rhetorical resilience.

Helpful Hints:

  • Your location must be approved!
  • You may not block any entrances, in case of fire but also in case someone notices you whispering your protest to yourself.
  • Do not make noises using your voice or amplifying technology and devices
  • Your pamphlets must be non-confrontational and you can not sneak them into the bags of people who refuse to take one.
  • Clean up after your thriving, non-boisterous, planned and approved event, by removing signs (or other items & materials) that you may or may not be allowed to have given the type of protest location.

“The use of streets of Middlebury for parades or demonstrations is subject to town ordinance and requires a town permit.”


8.) Protest for a little bit, maybe give it a couple minutes. “Demonstrations may not interfere with the academic, educational or essential operational functions of the College.”

9.) Make use of the SGA craft corner for your protest. Don’t use chalk, make signs, or pamphlets that have existing binary oppositions. Chalk, by the way, can ruin lives.
After all,”the use of chalk on buildings or other structures, or within 10 feet of any door, is strictly prohibited to prevent damage to the structure and injury to anyone stopping at entrances or exits. Demonstrators may not mark or use trees or College structures to support or display signs, messages, materials, or equipment without prior approval of Facilities Services.”



10.) Have fun and be yourself! Middlebury College is committed to all forms of student expression, just do it the right way!




* We understand this as an effort to keep the campus safe, but are conflicted by the imposed policing and parenting that is being enforced onto student activism. Now that we’re well on our way to rhetorical resilience many of these rules seem to be contradictory and constricting of student speech and expression. We absolutely do not condone physical harm, but we also don’t condone symbolic agency in student protests.

2 thoughts on “10 Steps to Protest at Middlebury College

  1. The guidelines are paternalistic infringements on first amendment rights. The campus might be private property but it is public space. Is free speech a privilege extended by the college administration or inalienable rights extended by the bill of rights?

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