Category Archives: Administration

Community Conversations: Social Life

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Last week, Community Council Co-Chair Ben Bogin ’15 and SGA Director of Institutional Diversity Jeremy Stratton-Smith ’17 announced an awesome initiative called “Community Conversations” in an email sent to the student body. Bogin and Stratton-Smith will be hosting biweekly open forums for students and administrators to discuss various issues at Middlebury. Upcoming talks include: 3/5: Middlebury’s Judicial System/Title IX/Sexual Assault 3/19: Support Services for Students 4/2: Inclusivity in the Classroom 4/16: Diversity and Inclusivity 4/30: Health and Wellness. For more info check out go/talk. One of middbeat’s own, Kelly Hennessy ’15, went to the first community conversation, which focused on social life at Middlebury. Read her recap of the meeting here along with some reflections on the conversation. 

Thursday afternoon marked the kick-off of a series of Community Conversations, bi-weekly discussions, each focused on a different issue central to the Middlebury community. This conversation’s focal point was Social Life at Middlebury.

Much of the discussion was focused on student housing, and the ways in which this influences social life. Many juniors came to the meeting with Katy Smith Abbott, the VP for Student Affairs and Dean of the College, and JJ Boggs, the Associate Dean of Students for Student Activities and Orientation, to discuss their dissatisfaction with the recent Off-Campus Housing Lottery. Allegedly, there were only about 50 students awarded off-campus housing for next fall, compared to the 90 or so that were awarded it last year.

The juniors at the meeting expressed frustration over the administration’s failure to communicate that spots were heavily restricted this year, as they felt blindsided by their denial of off-campus housing. This sentiment was compounded by the fact that many of them were abroad last semester, and didn’t fully know about the conflicts and conversations had between off-campus seniors and their neighbors.

Undoubtedly, the administration has compelling and understandable reasons for restricting off-campus housing. Katy Smith Abbott cited the town-gown relationship and Middlebury’s financial structure as some justifications. Additionally, Middlebury is a residential college; most students live on campus for all four years. However, despite this rationale, many students are left wondering why their chances of gaining off-campus housing were lower than in past years and why the administration failed to inform students of this change.

While frustration surrounding the off-campus housing lottery is perhaps a new spin on the issue, this characterization of an increasingly restrictive administration echoes the same concerns that have been raised at previous campus-wide conversations about social life. Increasingly, students are expressing dissatisfaction with the way they feel restrictions are being placed on their lives by the administration, and in this particular case with little forewarning or communication.

As is required of any social life meeting, ADP (what is now Chromatic) was also a centerpiece of discussion, held up as a paragon of what students look for in their social lives. Many at the meeting saw the old social house as a place where cliques broke down, and students could interact with those of all walks of Middlebury life.

Juniors and seniors, the last classes of ADP, may be wearing some rose-colored beer goggles in this situation; I don’t know if this was a place where all of the community felt comfortable, and I think there were some real problems with the social house. Admittedly, though, ADP certainly did play an important role in the social life of many members of our community.

By my understanding, a lot of Midd kids feel their social lives have been increasingly limited by a string of surprising administrative moves. Students often cite the role of public safety or the likelihood of social houses being placed on probation as evidence of such increasing restriction.

However, I think this narrative is incomplete; as students we often fail to consider how our actions may have led to some of these administrative decisions and ignore how we may work with the community as a whole to assuage some of our dissatisfaction.

We need to start making efforts to be active participants in creating the social lives we want. ADP is gone; many will mourn its loss for years to come. However, I think it’s time to start thinking critically about what exactly ADP and the ‘social life of old’ had to offer.

It’s important to recognize that it isn’t a one-size fits all approach, a point brought up during the meeting. Different people want different things out of their social lives. While much of the discussion about social life is centered on parties on and off campus, getting hammered on the weekend isn’t the social life everyone has or wants.

It’s an expansive term, and we as a community should work to create spaces that can fit as many of its meanings as possible. These meetings are a good first step; now we need to be the catalysts for change.

Social Entrepreneurship and the Future of Global Health

mitch-besser_webThis year the Center for Social Entrepreneurship will be hosting its fourth annual January Symposium which will take place on January 22-24, 2015. The symposium will challenge participants to think about how innovators have an impact in the field of public health. CSE Vision Award recipients Jennifer Staple-Clark, Founder of Unite for Sight, and Mitch Besser, Founder of Mothers2Mothers, will deliver insightful keynote addresses. In addition, the symposium will bring a variety of thought-provoking workshops, live Skype conferencing sessions as well as our first Hackathon with national and international innovators and Middlebury students on the future of global health.

One of the most anticipated events at the symposium is the public conversation on Thursday led by Staple-Clark titled “Responsible Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship,” with Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology Svea Closser and two Middlebury students, Hannah Blackburn ’17 and Sayre White ’15. In 2000, Staple-Clark, then a sophomore at Yale University, founded Unite For Sight in her dorm room. Now the organization is a leader in global health education and in providing cost-effective care to some of the world’s poorest people. Its Global Impact Corps offers year-round healthcare delivery in three countries: Ghana, India, and Honduras. Volunteers for the organization–students and professionals–train with Unite for Sight’s doctors.

On Friday, January 23, at 7 p.m., Dr. Besser will participate in a keynote conversation,
“Communities Caring for Communities: A Vision for Better Health Care,” with Pam Berenbaum, coordinator of Global Health Programs at Middlebury. In 1999, Besser, a graduate of Harvard Medical School, joined the University of Cape Town’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, where he created mothers2mothers, in which mothers living with HIV are employed to work alongside doctors and nurses in understaffed health centers, educating and supporting pregnant women and new mothers with HIV. These Mentor Mothers, as they are called, reduce the workload of doctors and nurses and increase the effectiveness of interventions that protect babies from HIV infection and keep mothers healthy and alive. Two Mentor Mothers, Queen Mda and Nozandulela Samela, will serve as workshop leaders during the symposium. Mothers2mothers has reached more than 1.2 million HIV-positive mothers in nine countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

New this year as part of the symposium will be a hackathon, which will bring together students, faculty, staff, and community members to compete as teams to create a one-minute public service announcement regarding a public health issue. On January 23, teams will begin work on their announcements, which may take the form of a video, radio spot, dance, or another medium. Team members will present their announcements for judging at the close of the symposium on Saturday, January 24. Sayre White, Middlebury senior and Co-President of GlobeMed, encourages all students to get involved with this year’s symposium, “This symposium is a brilliant opportunity for anyone who is seeking a channel for their creative energy, and one that facilitates and encourages deep, critical attention to some of the most pressing global health issues of our time.”

For more information on the speakers, events, and the schedule, check out:
http://mcse.middlebury.edu/event/symposium/ 

From AAL to ALL: a workshop

AAL to ALL, LET'S GO

AAL to ALL, LET’S GO

As most of you may know, MiddIncluded is a student led movement pushing for a change in Middlebury’s Eurocentric Cultures and Civilizations requirements. Since the launch of our petition in the Fall of 2013, we have been working to ensure that Middlebury adopts a more egalitarian curriculum that
1) reflects the values Middlebury says it stands for,
2) provides greater educational opportunities,
3) educates global citizens who come from all walks of life and will go off to be leaders around the world.

To keep things moving, we need YOUR help. Join the movement!

Come to ONE of our three scheduled workshops to see what you can do (or just to find out more/give us suggestions/have a conversation with us), and go/aal to find out more about us.

Date: Friday the 21st, Saturday the 22nd and Sunday the 23rd of November
Time: 5:30 to 7:00 pm on Friday and 2:00 to 3:30 on Saturday and Sunday
Place: Coltrane Lounge on Friday and Ross B11 on Saturday and Sunday
Cost: N/A

Laurie L. Patton, the 17th President of Middlebury College

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ok sorry, sorry, but is it just us or could Ron and Laurie be siblings? Serious facial resemblance goin on here in the best possible way.

Today’s a big day: this afternoon, for the 17th time in Middlebury’s 214-year history, the Board of Trustees has revealed the college’s next president. Middbeat wants to extend an extremely warm welcome to Laurie L. Patton, future president of Middlebury College.

We had the honor to attend the revealing meeting in Mead Chapel this morning, and were quite impressed by Laurie’s first speech (which we did our best to transcribe here), as well as the extensive recruitment process described by the Board of Trustees. Clearly, beyond significant time and energy was devoted to finding a president with the best possible administrative experience, leadership potential, academic history, innovative personality, commitment to diversity, and potential to continue advancing the always augmenting aspirations of Middlebury College. For this, we are grateful. From her high-brow educative and academic achievements to her soothing voice and calm, collected demeanor, we’ve got a good feeling about Laurie.

So, who is Laurie? What’s she bringing to the table? When’s she gonna start and how are we gonna meet her? Are we gonna like her? Can anyone touch Ron? Will tailgates revamp and Atwater will start serving dinner and Proctor Cat will come back to life (kidding)? Will the cultural center thrive and academic workloads be reconsidered and administration take a more effective approach to providing safe spaces for intersecting racial, sexual, and socioeconomic identities and will we fully live up to our proclaimed environmental consciousness (serious)?

Clearly, it’s going to take quite a while to really get to know future President Patton. These are questions we can’t answer fully now, and probably won’t be able to until she’s packed her bags and left sunny Duke behind to take on Vermont, Addison County, Middlebury, the snow, the students, the faculty, staff, etc. in all our glory, and lack thereof. While we’ve got high expectations, only time will tell, and aggressive pre-judgement is never a great idea.

That being said, we’re fascinated by this highly intelligent and accomplished academic, and yes, tremendously proud to have a WOMAN as president — Laurie will the FIRST female president in Middlebury’s history — so for now, middbeat would like to share Laurie’s general background. We hope you attend today’s reception for Laurie in Wilson Hall (McCullough Social Space) at 3:45, introduce yourself to Laurie today or sometime in the near future, and most importantly, think about what you hope Laurie to embody, work towards, and accomplish alongside the existing Middlebury community as the next president of Middlebury College. Upon her arrival in July, Laurie will be eager to listen to students, faculty, and staff so to understand Middlebury culture, present issues and concerns, and ideas for the future, and it will be up to you all to contribute honestly and effectively so to advance our community and academic experience alongside new leadership. Additionally, look forward to upcoming middbeat interaction with Laurie, as we hope to establish a middbeat-president friendship (continuing Ron’s demonstrated middbeat love) as soon as possible.

So, without further ado, here’s the deets (courtesy of the Middlebury President-Elect Website):

The Middlebury Board of Trustees today named Laurie L. Patton, dean of Duke University’s Trinity College of Arts and Sciences and the Robert F. Durden Professor of Religion, as Middlebury’s next president. Patton will take office on July 1, 2015, succeeding Ronald D. Liebowitz, who has served as president since July 2004.

Patton, a distinguished religion scholar and translator of classic Indian Sanskrit texts, joined Duke in her current position in 2011. Trinity College is the largest of Duke’s undergraduate schools, with 5,200 students, 36 academic departments and programs, and 640 faculty members. It awards nearly 80 percent of the university’s bachelor degrees. As dean, she is responsible for overseeing the educational mission of Duke’s core undergraduate liberal arts programs, including curriculum, faculty hiring and development, student research, assessment, and the College’s $370 million annual budget. Under her leadership, Trinity College raised more than $300 million for professorships, financial aid, educational initiatives, and other priorities.

Patton’s selection followed an extensive, six-month search conducted by a 20-member search committee chaired by Middlebury trustee Allan Dragone Jr. ’78. The committee engaged in a process of broad outreach to students, faculty, staff, and alumni. From an initial list of more than 250 individuals nominated or put under consideration, the committee gradually narrowed the pool to a dozen and then to a small list of finalists, before unanimously recommending Patton to the full board on Tuesday. Patton will be the first woman to lead Middlebury in its 214-year history.

“I can’t imagine a place that more fully exemplifies my interests and commitments to higher education than Middlebury,” said Patton. “These last five months have been a wonderful experience for me as I have had the opportunity to learn more about this great institution and the values it holds dear. I have so many people to thank, starting with the search committee and Al Dragone, and I am truly honored with the confidence the Board of Trustees has shown in me today. I look forward with anticipation to joining this community of faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents, and friends.”

Marna C. Whittington, chair of the Middlebury Board of Trustees, called Patton an “outstanding choice” to be the next president. “Laurie is an accomplished scholar with a deep commitment to the liberal arts and a global perspective on the value and role of education,” said Whittington. “She lives the values of Middlebury, and I am confident she will provide the leadership and innovative thinking required to maintain the positive momentum and success Middlebury has experienced during Ron Liebowitz’s tenure as president.”

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MIDDLEBURY’S 17th PRESIDENT TO BE ANNOUNCED AT NOON

I guess this is the beginning of the end, Ron

I guess this is the beginning of the end, Ron

Wow, lots of big things happening today. Since Ron announced he was peacing out last spring, tensions have been high regarding who the lovely person to fill his shoes shall be. There’s been an extensive search committee going on for months, and, apparently, the decision has been reached. In classic semi-cryptic Midd administration fashion, we all just received an email stating that the 17th President of Middlebury College will be announced today, at 12 noonWhich is in about an hour…

For those who haven’t been on email, here’s the message:

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students at Middlebury and Monterey,

Today at noon Eastern time (9 a.m. in Monterey), we will hold an all-campus meeting in Mead Chapel to introduce Middlebury’s 17th president to our community. We invite you to join us in celebrating this significant moment in Middlebury’s history.

We will simulcast the event in Irvine Auditorium on the Monterey campus and in Crossroads Café in McCullough Student Center on the Middlebury campus.

For anyone unable to gather in one of those locations, we also will simulcast the event live here

In addition, those of you in Middlebury are invited to attend a reception for the new president starting at approximately 3:45 p.m. in Wilson Hall in McCullough Student Center.

We hope you will join us at one or more of these events.

Ron Liebowitz              Marna C. Whittington             Allan Dragone Jr. ’78 

President                     Chair, Board of Trustees         Chair, Presidential Search Committee

Well, thanks for the heads up, Ron. While you may have had class or lunch plans, perhaps consider ditchin in favor of the big reveal. Whether you can attend the Meade Chapel meeting, watch the simulcast in Crossroads, or not, we’ll keep you posted on the happenings.

Plus, if you’re free by 3:45, stop by the new prezzy reception in Wilson Hall, McCullough Student Center. Anything could happen, y’all…

What: New Middlebury President being revealed
Date and Time: Revealing: today at 12 noon, Reception: today at 3:45 pm
Place: Revealing: Meade Chapel or simulcast in Crossroads Cafe, Reception: Wilson Hall, McCullough Student Center

POST SCRIPT: Would’ve been nice to be updated on who the finalists were, no? Or had a day or two to work our schedules around this big reveal? What do you all think about this? Comment below with responses on the rather spur-of-the-moment news drop. While we hesitate to re-ignite tailgate fires, and while this event is completely unrelated to the tailgate policies, it does seem a bit strange to have the administration drop such big news with such little forewarning, as they have done in these two recent instances. If you’ve got thoughts, please share ‘em.

Discussion TONIGHT: Intersectionality of Race, Ethnicity, and Sexuality on and off Campus

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If you attended last week’s Sunday evening discussion with Ron (and hopefully even if you didn’t), you’re aware there are far more issues to discuss regarding campus culture than just drinking and traditional notions of “social life.”

Thankfully, there will be an opportunity to cover some of these issues tonight at a discussion hosted by the African American Alliance, Women of Color, Distinguished Men of Color, PALANA, Queers & Allies, and Alianza regarding the intersectionality of race, ethnicity, and sexuality on and off campus. DMC writes in to clarify that “this discussion is meant to provide a space for people of ALL identities to expand their knowledge and express their thoughts on the intersection of identities, and that students of absolutely all identities are welcome and encouraged to come.” Whatever your racial, ethnic and sexual identities might be, we strongly urge you to stop by Carr Hall Lounge for this event, as these are conversations the entire community should be engaging in. Bonus points: Pizza will be provided by PALANA!

Date: Tonight, November 11
Time: 6:30-8pm
Place: Carr Hall Lounge (Carr Hall is the building that looks like a mini Forrest, next to Forrest and closer to Battell)

REMINDER: Discussion with Liebowitz re: Social Life TONIGHT at 8

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Just a friendly reminder of Liebo’s invitation to discuss social life at Midd tonight at 8 in McCullough.  Students have been discussing the ills of campus social life fervently all semester, yet much of this energy has been directed into complaints instead of action.  This open forum should prove a valuable inroad into implementing the changes students want to see to make social life more, well, social.  middbeat will be doing live coverage of the event, so in case you miss the discussion, you can catch up online.  Read on for the president’s invitation.  Hope to see you all there.

When: Tonight 8 PM
Where: McCullough Social Space

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Ron Liebowitz’s Invitation for Discussion: A Translation by an of-age Middlebury student

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A particularly cunning student recently sent middbeat a satirical translation of Ron Liebowitz’s recent invitation to the student body to discuss campus social life.   While a magnanimous gesture from our President, students have been doubting how much this discussion will actually do to change the social atmosphere at the college.  The author wanted to preface the piece with the following:

The intention of this piece is not at all to personally attack President Liebowitz, whose invitation for discussion has been extremely well received and deserves respect.  I am caricaturizing and satirizing his very reasonable words in order to provoke students to think critically about the actual issues at hand – and hopefully inspire a laugh. After reading this, I hope students will consider the social motivation of students to perform certain behaviors, the motivations of the administration to implement certain policies, and the various effects thereof.

That being said, let’s get to the bottom of what Liebo was really getting at here:

Dear Students,

Ron Liebo: I am keenly aware of the frustration surrounding student social life on campus, and how the behavior of a few has unfortunately, but predictably, shaped our policies that limit social options for the responsible majority.

Translation: I am keenly aware of your recent complaints surrounding social life on campus, and how the inability of a few of your asinine peers to hold their liquor has ruined it for the rest of you. In response, we’ve implemented policies that make socializing within two miles of an open container more trouble than it’s reasonably worth. Don’t point the finger at us, though; clearly upperclassmen haven’t been fulfilling their responsibility to properly haze their underage peers, an age-old social practice that forces individuals to rapidly learn their limits of consumption, or die. Despite our best efforts, you assholes continue to try to “host parties” and “socialize” and “get wasted”. It’s almost like the more we try to control you, the more you try to rebel. Da fuck.

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OP-ED: Hit WHOM Where it Hurts? A Response to The Campus’ “Hit ‘Em Where it Hurts”

In response to a recent opinion piece in the Middlebury Campus titled Hit ‘Em Where it Hurts, which addresses student protest and avenues for change at Middlebury, student activist Adriana Ortiz-Burnham ’17 writes in with her opinion on the issue and her reaction to the article’s claims:

In The Middlebury Campus, (Oct 09) Luke Smith-Stevens, in “Hit ‘Em Where It Hurts,” characterizes Middlebury students as “a captive market.” He claims we “are left with few options for student protest” because “there are basically zero avenues to create change…” Given that the “nouveau-activists” to whom he refers are students irate about tailgating policy, my question is whether those avenues at Middlebury are appropriate for the tailgating issue.

Smith-Stevens suggests a student worker strike as an effective way to gain the attention of the administration. He admits “there are flaws in this idea…the lost income it would mean for student workers.” Why, yes. I have two jobs at Middlebury and one at home, which contribute significantly to the costs of my education. I would be expected to sacrifice my ability to pay for my education while being subsidized by those with “no skin in the game.”

Perhaps approaching the administration was not effective in the tailgating effort; I am not privy to those details. Smith-Stevens says the strike should be a “response to a truly unacceptable administrative policy, the likes of which we haven’t recently seen.” I can name at least one policy which is in fact “truly unacceptable,” that of AAL. Several of us have spent months trying to change it.

The aim of MiddIncluded, of which I am a founding member, is to broaden the cultures and civilizations requirement from Comparative; Europe; North America (excluding Mexico); and Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Middle East; to Comparative, North America (including Mexico); and a choice of two of the following: Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, and Europe. Why? Because “AAL” elevates the significance of Europe, the U.S.A., and Canada, while lumping the rest of the world into the category of “other.” This requirement is outdated, anachronistic, and fundamentally discriminatory.

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Liebowitz to Host Discussion on Campus Social Life

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This semester has proven a tumultuous one with regards to student reactions to administrative policies regulating, some would say killing, student social life.  Aware of this widespread sentiment, President Ron Liebowitz will host a discussion regarding the relationship between the administration’s commitment to student safety and the student body’s desire for a vibrant social life in hopes of finding common ground. The meeting will be in the McCullough Social Space at 8:00 PM on Sunday, November 2. Read below for President Liebowitz’ invitation to the event. middbeat will liveblog the discussion next Sunday.

From President Liebowitz:

Dear Students,

I am keenly aware of the frustration surrounding student social life on campus, and how the behavior of a few has unfortunately, but predictably, shaped our policies that limit social options for the responsible majority.

I would like to hold an open meeting to air as many issues and concerns any and all of you have related to social life and related College policies and practices.  I would like to better understand how we might find some common ground and work to improve what is not a satisfactory situation.

I would also like to share what might be called “the other side” of the issue—the constraints within which we work in approving, or not, activities on campus, as well as provide some history of the efforts made in the past that brought some short-term success.

I believe if we better understood the issues that are getting in the way of social life on campus, as well as the challenges we as administrators face in maintaining a safe environment for our students, faculty, and staff (and neighbors), we could make great progress to improve social life here at Middlebury.

I invite you to a discussion on Sunday, November 2, at 8:00 p.m. in Wilson Hall (McCullough Social Space).  I hope to see many of you there.

Best,

Ron

When: Sunday, November 2 8:00 PM
Where: McCullough Social Space
Cost: N/A