Category Archives: Feature

12 Questions for SGA Presidential Candidates

While this is coming late to the game with most of you likely having already voted, we nonetheless found it important to publish the following series of questions Tiffany Chang ’17 asked the presidential candidates.  Each of the questions are directed at important social issues on campus that largely have not been posed by the debates and other coverage.  Although this post likely will not have a huge impact on the election results being so close to the final deadline, we nonetheless feel it will be vital for holding candidates accountable to their positions on important issues largely surrounding race, class, and gender.  Big thanks to Tiffany for sending this to us!

From Tiffany:

Before I even knew I was running for a position, I was having a hard time choosing a presidential candidate as many are friends and leaders I respect. So, I reached out to all four on 10 issues that were of interest to me. Three chose to give answers (Stuart respectfully declined) and gave me permission to make them public.

This year’s presidential race is a close one. To distinguish them, all four candidates were asked 12 questions.

All responses have been kept in their original format, and all candidates have given me permission to publish their answers. They are published in the order they were received. Stuart Warren respectfully declined to answer.

As president, what are your 1) opinion and 2) specific plans of action, if any, regarding:

  1. AAL/Distribution Requirement Reform
  2. Fossil Fuel Divestment
  3. Mandatory JusTalks for First-Years
  4. A JusTalks-like program for professors better equipping them to teach and support differences of identity
  5. Financial Aid transparency
  6. Finance Committee reform(s), including increasing the FC’s accountability to the student population and mandatory training around issues of equity, diversity and inclusion for all members.
  7. The SGA supporting marginalized students on campus in general
  8. The SGA Reform Working Group’s progress thus far
  9. The conversation around athletic privilege on campus
  10. The SGA’s role in asking for higher standards in the administration’s handling of sexual assault

Finally, my two other questions are:

  1. What do you think it will mean to have Laurie as a new president? How will you adjust your own presidency?
  2. Being president takes a lot of work and time. According to Doug Adams, once every few years there is an SGA president that isn’t as present as they should be. How do you plan on managing your academics and your duties as president?

See after the jump for the candidates’ responses.

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MCAB Speakers Committee Presents: Donna Brazile

DgBVRQPbepQz7yCc6pnKjP0nDonna Brazile is one of the foremost political minds in the Democratic Party.  She led Al Gore’s historic campaign in 2000 and now serves as the Vice Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.  She has appeared on a variety of programs ranging from House of Cards to The Situation Room and is a regular on many major networks during the election cycle.  Stop by Mead Chapel to hear Brazile discuss her career as well as the goings on in Washington, DC.

Date: Today, April 21
Time: 7-9 pm
Place: Mead Chapel
Price: free! (show up early as this event may get crowded)

This Afternoon! Martina Vandenberg Talk hosted by Stop Traffick

10942602_10153162652403340_3357583996604627649_nCome to Hillcrest 103 to hear Martina Vandenberg speak about her work as one of the leading voices against human trafficking all over the world.  Vandenberg has experience combating traffick all over the world and in 2012 she founded The Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center which provides free legal services to victims of trafficking.  She has won numerous awards throughout her career and has testified as an expert at Senate and House Committee hearings.  This is a truly special opportunity for all members of the Middlebury community to hear from such an esteemed guest. Beverages will be provided but you should bring a dinner!
Date: Today, April 7
Time: 4:30 pm
Place: Hillcrest 103

HornHub: Your Post Humpday Reminder That Only You Love You Best

Another humpday passed with you listening to horn on your own, devoid of human interaction, feeling empty and lost. But I’m here to remind you that your post-humpday funk needn’t last long. It’s Thursday! There is life to look forward to–the bar!, the weekend!, the fast approaching Monday morning!, kill me!


Who doesn’t love a little VINTAGE HORN with a strapping Van Williams and a smoldering Bruce Lee? Enjoy the trippy graphics as you blaze into the weekend on another foggy horn binge.

P.S. I don’t know how the Seth Rogen Green Hornet remake didn’t fly. What an unbelievable idea with mediocre delivery. Should’ve netted at least a cool hundred mil.


See you next Thursday, Horn Addickts


StartupGrid Goes Live! The Student-Run J-term Internship You Definitely Want to Learn About Launches This Thursday

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 9.51.52 PM

Whether or not you heard about the ambitious yet, until now, fairly ambiguous student-lead on-campus J-term internship “StartupGrid,” it’s definitely time you get in the know. At Middlebury, we’re creative thinkers. We’re do-ers. We thrive off creation, innovation, and problem solving. And if any J-term project embodies this entrepreneurial drive, it’s StartupGrid. For four weeks this January, 25 students of diverse academic backgrounds banded together under the leadership of Jake Vacovec ’15 and Ty Danco ’77 (a tremendously successful venture capitalist) to create, an an early stage online resource providing advice, expertise, and instruction from top thought leaders in the startup and venture capital industries. StartupGrid self-defines with the following statement:

“Starting a company is hard – finding the right advice shouldn’t be. At StartupGrid, we connect you with specialized knowledge from seasoned entrepreneurs, so you can start bridging the gap between struggles and success today.”

As a member of the StartupGrid media team, I can confidently assert this project is pretty damn cool. And successful. After conducting 30+ interviews, collecting 50 hours of filmed interviews with top thought leaders in the startup and venture capital industries, and curating over 1800 multimedia articles, the StartupGrid team has created a one-stop resource for entrepreneurs looking for the right answers, accessible here.

To celebrate our team’s success, we’re hosting the StartupGrid Demo Day, aka the site’s official unveiling, this Thursday, February 18 at 5pm in Axinn 232. We strongly encourage any and all students, faculty and staff to come check out the awesome startup 25 Middlebury students built on-campus this J-Term, featuring a live StartupGrid interview with Pier LaFarge, Midd alum & CEO of SparkFund.

And, to get the celebration really going, the StartupGrid team invites everyone to join us for a reception with free food and drinks, including top-notch alcoholic beverages (of the 21+ variety for valid ID holders) in the Axinn Abernathy Room. The future of StartupGrid is bright – so please come see what we’ve done, how we did it, and our plans for the future. This night of innovative experiential learning, and the best craft beer Vermont has to offer (Heady Topper, y’all), is not to miss.

The whole idea of an online resource providing seemingly infinite startup entrepreneurial advice is intriguing to say the least, but the whole “internship” process is a little vague. So, to give you a sense of the StartupGrid leadership, team work, short and long term goals, and day-to-day work these 25 students engaged in, middbeat’s conducted an informational interview with StartupGrid co-founder and project manager, Jake Vacovec ’15So, without further ado, read up, and show up this Thursday at 5pm in Axinn 232.

MB: So, what is Startup Grid anyways?

JVSimply put, is an easily accessible website where you can find startup advice. It’s a collection of blog posts, videos, and interviews from thought leaders in the startup and venture capital industries. Our main goal is to curate the best startup media into a navigable website, a project which, until now, has not been done.

Entrepreneurship is on the rise, making startup advice more relevant than ever. But though demand for startup advice is fervent, such advice is largely disorganized and inconsistent in quality. So, rather than leave it to a time-starved entrepreneur to navigate the noisy world of startup advice, the StartupGrid team has taken on this challenge with great success. What sets StartupGrid apart is our library of exclusive interviews with 40+ entrepreneurship thought leaders providing the inside scoop on hot companies like Ello, IrisVR and Bridj.

MB: Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get involved, and how did the idea for this project develop?

JVMy name is Jake Vacovec, I am a senior economics major and I am one of the Co-Founders of StartupGrid. When I graduate in May I will be working in Manhattan at a FinTech startup called Behalf. After working at Behalf last summer as an intern, I got a taste of the startup world and was immediately hooked. My ambition to start my own venture carried me through a network of Midd Alumni. Eventually, I was introduced to a member of the Board of Trustees, Rick Scanlon, who started a VC/PE firm, Marker LLC. Rick then introduced me to one of his employees, a recent Midd grad, Brian Foster. Brian worked with Ty Danco, a tremendously successful venture capitalist and also a Middlebury alumnus, while enrolled at Middlebury and for a brief stint before joining Marker LLC. Brian offered to introduce me to Ty, and after working with Ty for a few weeks we had outlined what would soon become StartupGrid. All we needed was a team to bring it together.

MB: At the beginning of J-term, what were your goals for StartupGrid? How did you go about preparing to accomplish those goals?

JVI spend the entire first semester working on developing all the operations and processes for StartupGrid in order to accomplish our high-level goal – a useful website. After recruiting 25 talented, diverse students, I was hopeful that the semester would be a huge success, but also feared it could crash and burn given the limited time we had. We were essentially a case study for future projects of this caliber and I knew we would be under a microscope. It was a lot of pressure, so my main goal was to clearly define role expectations and have a strong process in place. Ultimately, I wanted to end J-Term with a tangible product that everyone involved was proud of and the larger community of entrepreneurs and “want-repreneurs” could benefit from.

MB: Who composes the StartupGrid “team?” How did you assemble this team and what demographics do they represent?

JV: The StartupGrid team is comprised of 25 exceptionally talented Middlebury students, all of which are either juniors, seniors, or were super senior Febs. The best part about the team was that it was truly an interdisciplinary group of students. We had majors ranging from English to Computer Science. The founding team was divided into five sub-teams: (1) Product & Project Management (2) Programming & Design (3) VC Research (4) Film (5) Social Media Strategy. Each member was put onto a team, but the group quickly learned that at a startup, it’s all hands on deck. Everyone did their jobs but also developed skills beyond their expected function.

MB: Over J-term, what did your day-to-day, week-to-week schedule look like? How did the StartupGrid team go about building the site and accomplishing their goals?


JV: Every week the team met 5 times for 2-hour period. Each meeting had a different purpose, some were to review the weekly goals, others to relax and enjoy a beer. My favorite meetings were our Wednesday night meetings – the Heady Topper brainstorm sessions. Before every Wednesday meeting I would drive up to Williston to pick up a case or two of Heady Toppers and buy a couple pizzas from Nino’s on my way back. These meetings were where we fostered our cohesive, collaborative team culture. We were able to accomplish our goals, and had a good deal of fun doing so.

The programming and design team assigned themselves weekly sprints and standups, for which we would define the goals for the week and each member would ‘standup’ and explain what they had accomplished the previous week. Every Friday Ty would come to campus and meet with each team over the course of 5-6 hours, which was an incredibly educative experience. We also benefited from advisement from Adam Bouchard, CEO of Agilion Apps. On two occasions, Adam invited us to his cottage off Route 7 and helped us define our product market fit using a lean vision exercise.

MB: Tell us a bit more about Ty Danco. What’s he all about?

JV: First off, this project would not have been possible without Ty. I was beyond fortunate to meet Ty and spend the past 6 months working with him and learning from his entrepreneurial expertise. Ty is one of the most passionate people I know, and is constantly overflowing with ideas; he epitomizes entrepreneurship. Ty has had a full career and I’m probably doing an injustice to him by only highlighting a few tidbits. After graduating from Middlebury in 1977, Ty became a two time Olympic athlete (casual, right?) before beginning his career in finance. Later, he founded a startup that was acquired by CalPERS. He is an angel investor and also works as a Director for the accelerator, Techstars.

MB: So, how’d it turn out? Did you accomplish what you aimed to? 

JV: To be blunt, the StartupGrid project turned out fantastically. It’s not easy to pull together 25 students and give them 25 days to build a legitimate startup. In truth, we have collected more data than we know what to do with, which is exciting because the room for growth is exponential.

To date we have curated over 1800 multimedia articles, conducted interviews with 40 experts and amassed over 50 hours of film. All of this content has been fully integrated into The real accomplishment was the duality of this educational experience. We studied theoretical learning through research, curating, and interviewing as well as experiential learning through the creation of a legitimate startup. This experience was like none other at Middlebury and gave us a taste of what it would be like to work for a startup.

MB: What do you hope for the future of StartupGrid?


JV: StartupGrid needs to be polished up a bit, but it’s future really depends on how we decide to pivot from here. We could make it an open source resource for the entrepreneurship community to add to, similar to a company like Wikipedia. Or we could make it a University package, where other schools sign on and build off of our platform – providing students with a theoretical and experiential learning opportunity. For the next few months its activity will flat line but once we decide our growth strategy it will pick back up. Some of the members, including myself, will be working on this for the rest of the year and even years to come. I see it as a great side project where I will eventually transfer into an advisement position.

MB: Do you think StartupGrid will ultimately be profitable, and if so how?


JVOur main focus is to create a website that benefits our audience before we begin to consider how to make a buck off it. I guess it also depends on what you consider profitable, any website can be profitable through ads but another way to think about ‘profit’ would be to amass a badass email list of users, which in some minds can be considered even more profitable. For me it is less about the money and more about the future benefits an experience like this offers. For now we are not focused on profitability, but the avenues to get there are certainly available.

MB: What skills have you gained through this process? What skills have the group members at large gained? Continue reading

Treeman: Fare Tree Well

“The meaning of life is not to be discovered only after death in some hidden, mysterious realm; on the contrary, it can be found by eating the succulent fruit of the tree of life and by living in the here and now as fully and creatively as we can.” –Paul Kurtz

Greetings middbeat. As January drew to a close, so too did my time in our beautiful Vermont glade. Sharing my tree friends with you all has been a pleasure and I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to read my utterly amateur musings about our bark-skinned brethren covering campus. Now, treeward!

One of many sublime Middlebury treescapes

The birches of Battell Beach: one of many sublime Middlebury treescapes

Rather than profile a specific tree, I feel it fitting to dedicate this post to all of Middlebury’s trees. While Lawrence and Danko tickled my treebone, every one of these branchy bastards can work magic if you take the time to notice them.

The strength of the hills is on the roots of trees like this, not Mead Chapel

The strength of the hills is in the roots of this tree, not Mead Chapel.

Have you ever just taken a walk through the graveyard and thought about stuff? You should. Call me morbid, but there are some really wonderful trees to take in and the quiet is comforting. People take things so seriously at Middlebury; it’s important to remind yourself to enjoy this brief life. I know that comes off as just another banal platitude, but it’s also true and all too easy to forget if you think you’re too intellectually advanced for clichés. Any time you roll your eyes when someone reminds you to enjoy life, it’s time to go out and spend some time looking at trees.

Even in the depths of winter, this guy keeps a green grassy carpet at his base so we can sit down against his trunk and just enjoy the vista.

Even in the depths of winter, this guy keeps a grassy, green carpet at his base so we can sit down against his trunk and just chill.

But, hey, if the graveyard’s not your speed, don’t worry about it! Thanks to Tim Parsons (the real MVTree), our whole campus is covered with beautiful trees enjoy.

This spunky little gal outside Gifford is clearly up to no good.

This spunky little gal outside Gifford is clearly up to no good.

There is a tree for everybody if you just take the time to find it. We got big ones, little ones, fat ones, skinny ones, young ones, old ones, gnarled ones, smooth ones, leafy ones, needly ones, bushy ones, bald ones, smart ones, silly ones, stern ones, care-free ones. All the ones. You name an attribute, there’s a tree somewhere on campus who embodies it. Except palm trees, but let’s not get too greedy.


These evergreens behind Meeker totally get it on when no one's looking

These evergreens behind Meeker totally get it on when no one’s looking.

Trees are just so great. They give us oxygen. They offer themselves as homes to birds (also known as 21st century dinosaurs) and other cute little critters. You can even pee on them in pinch. Seriously, when was the last time you had to pee and a human was like, “Alright, well if you really have to, you can pee on my leg”? Trees do that all the time! They give and give and give and they never take. I guess that’s what I love most about them. Anyway, I hope that one of my posts has inspired you to get out there and look at some sweet trees, and if not, at least put a smile on your face for a short while. Middlebury is a wonderful, beautiful place, so get out there and enjoy it!

Fare tree well,


Four Super Senior Febs You Should Have Gotten to Know (But You’ll Have to Off-Campus Because They Graduated Yesterday)

They entered Middlebury in February 2011. Now they leave us. But, hopefully (definitely) we’ll see them again.

middbeat presents four amusing interviews with members of the class of 2014.5.

  1. Katherine Elizabeth “Betsy” Neal
Betsy Neal '14.5

Betsy Neal ‘14.5

Hometown: Jackson, Wyoming

Age: 21

Major: Economics

Do you have any eccentric passions, hobbies, or skills?

I really like fly-fishing. Not that many people do it here. My dad taught me. You go out into a river on a dory, which is like a little rectangular boat made of wood or fiberglass. Or you can wade out into the river using waders. Then you cast out a line for fish. Last fall we went to Florida to fish on salt flats in very shallow water.

What do you remember about Feb orientation?

I remember being confused as to whether everything was mandatory or not, like all those small group meetings of six or so people.

 Tell us about a meaningful project or effort you were involved in.

One of my big efforts completely failed. When I first got here I was very into the environment. I tried to get the administration to put hand-dryers in the bathrooms instead of paper towels. They rejected the proposal saying it was a sanitation issue, which is false, because the new Dyson Airblade dryers don’t use hot air, and all the excess water sits at the bottom of the machine.

But another cool effort I’m involved in now is a class called “programming for novices.” So I’m making basic computer games.

 Tell us about a unique or memorable learning or classroom experience you had.

 The best class I took was “Environmental Negotiations and Dispute Resolutions.” It was an environmental studies class taught by a visiting professor. Each week the students were assigned different ‘roles,’ like an oil company or an environmental interest group, and after studying up on our roles we would represent our specific interests in a debate. For example, the topic might be hydroelectric dams in a Middle Eastern country: one or two groups would represent countries that would lose out on water if the dams were built and another group would be the Middle Eastern country who’d benefit from developing the dams. You’d be going into a negotiation room and different parties would fight for their interests. The class allowed you to understand different perspectives on these issues; and I realized that it was all about money, that’s what fueled these negotiations and decisions. So that influenced me to become an economics major.

 A teacher that you really liked and why.

I really like Professor Carpenter, who is on sabbatical right now. He’s an economics professor who taught me a seminar on behavioral economics. He also teaches Game Theory.

 What is Game Theory?

 The prisoner’s dilemma, getting the maximum economic output based on two people’s decision-making.

 How has Middlebury changed over the past four years? Positives + negatives…

I think it’s changed in negative ways. Obviously the social scene has suffered. Many social spaces (superblocks, social houses) have been reassigned, so the groups who live there are less likely to host parties. For example, it seems like the school no longer allow athletic teammates to live together. In the past, more natural friend groups occupied these social houses. Now, they are occupied by more forced groups convening around brochure-friendly themes, like “connectedness.”

Also, so many more people live off-campus. When I arrived to Midd in 2011, there were only one or two places off-campus that would have parties. Now you have perhaps six houses on Weybridge St. alone in which students live and throw parties.

What do you think about romantic relationships on campus?

I’ve never really wanted to be in a relationship at college, so I never analyzed the presence of, or lack of, a dating scene. So advice: don’t feel pressured to be in a relationship. 

Favorite Middlebury tradition or event? Why?

 Homecoming tailgate used to be my favorite tradition. R.I.P.

I do still enjoy Winter Carnival. I used to ski race on that weekend.

How do you hope your liberal arts degree will effect your life after college? 

It allows versatility in what you can do afterwards. For example, I got an internship in fashion at Oscar De La Renta the summer of 2013, and I took a Fall semester off to continue that internship. I scraped together my credits to graduate with my Feb Class this year. At Oscar de la Renta I focused on marketing which used my economics skills and all of the other classes I’ve taken at this liberal arts college.

Did you make any cool discoveries about Middlebury’s campus or system over the past four years?

I was really excited when I learned there is a path behind Dana auditorium that leads to E-Lot.

 What do you think about BannerWeb?

 It’s definitely annoying. I’ve gotten into most of the classes I’ve wanted by e-mailing teachers.

 Tell us about your favorite pair of shoes.

 I have this pair of Frye brown leather slip-ons that I’ve broken in so perfectly. Frye has warranty for two years. They were really dirty so I sent them in and Frye cleaned them.

How do you stay warm?

I have many jackets. Also, my mom discovered these Japanese pants that are lined with this incredibly soft fake-fur material that is used to make blankets.

  1. Benjamin Reuven Chaim Miller
Benjy Miller, '14.5

Benjy Miller, ‘14.5

Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama

Age: 23

Major: Environmental Studies and Conservation Biology

Do you have any eccentric passions, hobbies, or skills?

Masseuse. Beat-boxer. Freestyle rapper.

I am passionate about everyone getting the opportunity to explore his or her passions, so equality.

What do you remember about Feb orientation?

 Public Safety busting people drinking in a room that I was in.

Tell us about a meaningful project or effort you were involved in.

Music in general. Midd has provided opportunities to explore music in a deeper way. I’m surrounded by talent here. I feed off of it, build upon it.

Tell us about a unique or memorable learning or classroom experience you had.

 This past semester I had the pleasure of teaching myself Adobe Illustrator in order to create OUTREACH MATERIALS that say things like “seeing with new eyes.”

A teacher that you really liked and why. 

I liked David Allen for being approachable and friendly, which makes the learning environment more casual and enjoyable. He made learning very enjoyable.

How has Middlebury changed over the past four years?

Public Safety has gotten way more focused on shutting down or inhibiting parties. Before, one would have a party every weekend that everyone on campus had the choice to attend – if they wanted – and one could drink there (if one wanted to) – and Public Safety wouldn’t shut it down. Now parties are shut down, creating more exclusive social environments. This makes it hard for freshman to interact with upperclassman; and everyone’s pissed at how quickly parties get shut down. Things felt more carefree four years ago.

Any love advice?

I’ve seen two things, either “thrive or dive.” Some of my friends have thrived in relationships; they became livelier, more vibrant people than before. I’ve seen others dive when they entered relationships, as they’ve become totally absorbed in their partners and less social, less fun.

Favorite Middlebury tradition or event?

The Middlebury College Hunger Games. Teams of five compete in various challenges in and around Middlebury and the winners of these “tasks” get to eat less during the eating competition. The team that finishes the eating competition fastest wins the Hunger games. The eating competition is very pickle-heavy.

How do you hope your liberal arts degree will effect your life after college?

My Middlebury education has taught me to think critically and be even more open-minded.

How do you stay warm?

Natural body heat.

(Two more awesome graduates beyond the jump)

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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

Live Music: Tonight in Voter!

Two of Middlebury’s hottest bands, Iron Eyes Cody and Mt. Philo, will be joining forces this evening for what is sure to be a groovy, electric and exciting show! Join these two killer bands tonight at 8 PM in Voter!


Iron Eyes Cody performing at Higher Ground this past December


Mt Philo killing it at the Hepurn Zoo this past Halloween

            Known for their intricate vocal harmonies and unique instrumentation, Iron Eyes Cody has spent the semester playing in venues throughout Vermont and New England.  Though they are relatively new to Middlebury’s Music scene,  Mt Philo has already made a splash with their soulful and foot-stomping sound. They are especially  excited to debut some newly written material.  For those of you graduating or going abroad next semester, this will be a show not to miss!

What: Live Student Music

Where: “Uneven Lanes”  (Second Floor of Voter)

Cost: Free

Time: 8 PM

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!