Category Archives: Culture

Op Ed: Responding to The Campus, A Look at Athletic Privilege

Today, we have an op-ed in from middbeat contributers Aleck Silva-Pinto ’16 and Lizzy Weiss ’17 on the ongoing discussion surrounding the article about athletic privilege recently published by The Campus. The article has certainly sparked a lively debate, and here is yet another take on the issue. Read up, post replies, and feel free to submit your own opinion piece to the middbeat gmail ([email protected]). 

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Did this Yak bring you here? If it did– good! We wrote it.

When soon-to-be graduates Isaac Baker ‘14.5 and Hannah Bristol ‘14.5 published an article for The Campus entitled “It’s Actually Just a Game,” students took to Facebook and Yik Yak to add their voices to the debate. Too often, the yaks and anonymous comments on the online version of the article were vitriolic personal attacks on the authors that offered little substance. We will leave it to you to note the hypocrisy of a yak that criticized the cowardice of publishing a controversial opinion just weeks before graduation– because that anonymous yak really makes you brave.

We felt the need to post an inflammatory yak about our own article because it seems like members of our community are only willing to engage in debate when they feel like they have some skin in the game. Athletic privilege is a hot-button topic, but it took a slightly radical (although we would argue not too radical) piece to get us to have this conversation. So a big shout out to Hannah and Isaac for starting this debate. Clearly, it’s one we need to have.

Our campus is small enough that anonymity can feel essential when talking about controversial issues. No one wants to estrange those they are close to despite their own strongly held convictions. Therefore, we applaud Jake Nidenberg ’16 for submitting a response to The Campus. Though we disagree with him on some points, his willingness to be held accountable for his opinion is laudable.

This point being made, let’s get on to the issue itself.

In many of the responses to Bristol and Baker’s article and also in the middbeat audio piece, students have tended to defend the academic standing of athletes, either through anecdotal evidence or uncited statistics. We would argue that these defenses stem from the very true and acknowledged reality that many of the athletes on our campus are in fact high-achieving, well-rounded students. Many respondents cite their NARP-athlete relationships as further proof that the social boundaries are not nearly as rigid as presented by The Campus article. The bottom line is this: most students seemed to want to say, athletes are just like us.” 

We agree! We are also friends with athletes. They are real people too. And many of them are incredible individuals with a wide variety of interests that extends beyond sports.

However, just because a male lacrosse player is also a ballet dancer and hikes Snake Mountain every weekend with his community friend does not mean that he is exempt from the inherent privilege that comes with being a member of a team. 

This is the crux of our argument: Privilege cannot be dismantled by individuals defying stereotypes. Instead, the privilege granted to athletes on this campus is engrained in the cultural makeup of this institution.

Where The Campus article got into trouble on this point was their lack of hard facts. The reality is this: when talking about athletic privilege, many of us want to make a point about the admissions process, about class selection advising, about room draw advantages; but the facts and quantitative evidence are just not there. 

So why don’t we hold off on baseless attacks on the institutional advantages given to athletes. Instead, let’s talk about the perception of social privilege reserved for members of certain teams.

Let’s call a spade a spade. The Campus article was not talking about the women’s softball team or the men’s cross country team. There are athletes on this campus who enjoy a special social standing not granted to every member of the athletic community or the Middlebury community as a whole.

It’s hard to articulate exactly what that social privilege looks like. In our experience, something happens almost immediately during freshman year. A group of students, determined by certain social parameters, gravitate towards one another and their counterparts in the grades above. They join, as we call it, ‘the scene.’

Is this different from when the canoe-paddling, Carhartt-wearing, Chakko-strapping, freshmen start hanging out at Brooker? Not necessarily. It’s a natural tendency.

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Weekly Hump Day HornHub: Human Horn

SOON! Students for Design Activism in the CFA!

 

Design projects will pop-up in the CFA lobby areas for the exhibit of the Design Activism studio. Munch on the free food served while exploring the effect of design activism on everyday life, the public sphere, and the built environment. There is some human interaction and material experimentation.

When: 12 pm- 3 pm
Where: CFA Lobby areas
Cost: Free! (free food!)

A Middlebury College Listening Room

 

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If you’re as obsessed as we are with the recent This American Life spin-off and phenomenon known as Serial, chances are you’re curious about this seemingly new and revolutionary medium. But in truth, radio is one of the oldest and most traditional methods by which we receive information and entertainment. This J-Term, one class known as Sound and Story has been working with this craft and developing 3-6 minute podcasts as final projects. To celebrate and share their success, the class will be hosting a listening room for members of the community to listen to their work.

Date: Wednesday, January 28th
Time:
 7:30-9
Place: 
Abernathy Room in Axinn
Cost:
 Not one cent

 

Voices From Abroad: Aleck Silva-Pinto ’16, Amman, Jordan

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Aleck overlooking an incredible sunset in Amman

 

While Voices From Abroad took a little trip of its own, it’s returned with a top-notch contribution from a Midd student now back on campus, who spent his fall semester studying in Jordan, and wrote this piece while abroad. Aleck Silva-Pinto ’16, is a junior joint political science and Arabic major from Potomac, Maryland, a former member of the track team, and a proud contributor to middbeat. Aleck has always had an interest in the Middle East, and decided to study in Amman, Jordan because the Levant has always fascinated him more than any other part of the Arab World.  After studying at the University of Jordan, where he enrolled in classes including Politics of the Middle East, Translation, Modern Standard Arabic, and Colloquial Arabic, and living with a family in Amman, Aleck can confidently say he hopes to one day move back and live in Jordan. So, without further adieu, check out Aleck’s artistically crafted exploration of Jordanian culture through a unique focus on maids in Amman. And, of course, if you’ve recently studied abroad or plan to in the future, please consider submitting a reflection on your experiences to middbeat’s Voices From Abroad (absolutely any form of writing is encouraged)! 

America is on fire and I am lying in my bed. Rather, our major cities simmer while Amman remains relatively quiet. It is ironic to be in the most caustic part of the world and feel safer than I should. At least the collective attention of young people in the states, so often divided by the constant stimulation we receive from the Internet, seems to finally be focused on one issue that is important and germane. Meanwhile, nothing is happening here in the cradle of war. I feel spurned; I want to be back so I can argue and fret and ply my poor debate skills against those of my under-qualified and overly persistent peers. Instead, I am treated to the altruistic rhetoric of cab drivers day in and day out,

“Muslim or Christian?”

“I don’t know, Christian?”

“Well, it doesn’t matter, we’re all brothers!”

To be fair, I do appreciate this sentiment. It makes me feel included and has the added benefit of directing our conversation away from any talk of American politics. But, like any public-spirited outlook, it is not airtight.

Every once in a while I come home and see an extra car in my host family’s driveway, which means my host siblings are stopping by for a visit. This also means I will inevitably run into my host sibling’s maid. She is always sitting on a tiny Fisher-Price chair, eating her meal atop an even tinier table of the same brand. In fact, the table is so low that, no matter how far back she tucks her feet underneath her chair, the table is still propped up by her knees. She compensates by gingerly pinching the close end of her plate so as to avoid a catastrophic crash and an all too early end to her meal. We generally exchange the same greeting, some hi’s or hello’s (she doesn’t speak any Arabic), then I head inside. Our interactions have never been anything more than pleasantries. Her interactions with my host family are markedly different. My host mom, who has always been very gentle with me, utilizes the little English she knows to berate the maid. Instead of our hi’s and hello’s I hear lots of “out!” “no!” and “clean this!” Furthermore, my two host nieces seem to be the sole responsibility of the maid despite their parents being in the same house. She dotes on them exclusively in English while they act like the spoiled wastes of space they seem to be. Hair-pulling, food-throwing, screaming wastes of space. Miraculously, the maid maintains her poise. Part of me wants to just watch her all day; she is so incredibly delicate in the way she deals with both those misbehaved children and their irate parents.

Most days are far more tranquil in the house. I generally pass the time by trying to read the sports section of Amman’s primary newspaper, Al Rai (The Opinion). I choose the sports section because, when I inevitably fail to draw anything of worth from an hour of effort, I can look at the pictures! The haircuts in the Jordanian Football League are something else.  Also, I am drawn to an advertisement that appears in the section every day. The header reads “Malaysians! Philippines! Sri Lankans!” The ad goes on to promise the lowest rates and best services that can be offered. The ad interests me because it summarizes a sentiment that seems to be accepted as fact here: foreign workers are items to be bought; services to be had. One of my professors in particular seems to share this sentiment. In a recent class, she explained to us that she had picked a Senagalese maid because she was Muslim, which is best for her children, and she doesn’t take any time off, making her services much cheaper. Furthermore, she addresses the conversation as light fare. As a class we were naturally taken aback

I should say that I do not claim to be an expert of the lives of foreign maids in Jordan. This country bears the burden of millions of Syrian and Iraqi refugees and still manages to maintain the highest level of security and democracy in the Levant. However, the plight of foreign workers is a glaring exemption from Jordan’s activist lexicon, dominated mostly by Palestine and Israel. Women from Southeast Asia are treated as a commodity, an upgrade for those who can afford it. This essay is also not meant to be a scathing review of Jordanian individuals or their lack of moral integrity but rather to examine an unjust behavior that has become an inherent part of society here.

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TONIGHT: Alianza, Islamic Society and Hindu Student Association Present SNACK NIGHT!

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Who’s not into good, free food? We certainly are. Thankfully, there’s a great opportunity to eat free food and enjoy educative, friendly company at tonight’s Islamic Society, Alianza, and the Hindu Student Association Snack Night. Mariam Kahn ’16 invites us all:

Discover and celebrate the cultural interconnections between Latinos, Muslims and Hindus through food!

Enjoy an evening of snacks such as Samosas, Kheer, Nachos and Guacamole over great conversation and company this Friday! Everyone is welcome :)

Contact HSA, ISMC or Alianza if you would like to help us prepare any dishes or check out this google doc! https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1xsTG4ckDhW_lEWF3GWQpDadM4nHNXNBpUKUPK3OF4xc/edit?usp=sharing

Date: Tonight, 1/23
Time: 6:30pm
Place: Carr Hall (next to Forrest)

TODAY: Protest Against Icy Paths

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While we’re fully aware it’s much more important to protest prescient matters in our society, culture, and government, sometimes ya gotta fight for small-scale issues, too. Enter today’s “Protest Against Icy Paths.” Though it’s pretty funny to watch your peers completely wipe out on the terrifying ice rink that frequently covers the Middlebury campus, it ain’t so funny when it’s you. Rather than explain the protest ourselves, we’ll let the protest leaders speak for themselves. As the Facebook group, led by Winson Law ’16, explains:

Have you slipped on ice this J Term?
Does your butt have a bruise?
Are you physically scarred and mentally traumatized by a recent fall?

Today, stand and protest in solidarity against icy paths and treacherous conditions at Middlebury College.

Together, we can bring an end to this fractal menace.

Together, we will bring justice to bruised butts.

Together, we fight against the tyranny of ice.

To fight against the injustice of the cold, we will provide warm banana bread.

Date: Today 1/23
Time: 4-5pm
Place: Mead Memorial Chapel

middbeat Crush of the Week: Andrew Goulet ’16

photo (4)It’s J-term, almost February (Valentine’s Day, meh), and middbeat believes it’s time to spread the love on campus. Got a ton of free time? Wish you had someone to cuddle with besides your laptop? Sick of going to overcrowded parties where you can’t talk to anyone and walk home solo? Generally ready for romance, but lost hope that it could ever happen at Midd? We’ve got your back.

While we could (and will at a later point) go on and on about the oddities of the hookup and dating culture (or lack thereof) at Middlebury, rather than complain, we’re ready to take action. Truth is, almost all of us would prefer a genuine connection with a significant other over a meaningless one night stand (correct me if I’m wrong). But, due to the “small campus” mentality that there’s too few people, too much overlap with friends, it’s too awkward if you break up, etc. etc., more often than not romantic relationships fail to flourish at Midd. Then there’s the few couples that are always together and appear infinitely happy and in love, and you at the table behind them as they coddle in Proctor thinking, “Well, fuck.” And of course there’s some generally great relationships too, but they’re rare.

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USAID Food Security Investments in High Population Growth Countries

USAID LOGOThis Thursday there will be a lecture titled “USAID Food Security Investments in High Population Growth Countries” by Reid Hamel ’03, who directs research in food security and economic strengthening programs for Save the Children’s Department of Hunger and Livelihoods in Washington, DC. Reid Hamel is a PhD candidate in demography at the University of California, Berkeley, and is teaching the Winter Term course SOAN 1028 Global Population and Food Security.

When: Thursday, January 22 4:30-6:00
Where: RAJ conference room

MAlt Las Marias: 51 Main Entertainment Night

1506524_10152667656613358_4239853781455193081_nMAlt Plenitud Puerto Rico would like to invite you to a fun filled entertainment night at 51 Main from 4:00pm to 7:00pm on Friday January 23rd. Come to enjoy musical performances by our very own Middlebury Bands Ingoma, Zale the Whale and the Rest of Hadley 5 and many more! There will also be an open-mic opportunity and many more performances coming!

When: Friday, Jaunary 23, 4-7pm
Where: 51 Main Restaurant (Right across the bridge on College Street in town)
Cost: free!