Recap and Highlights of Middlebury in the 1960s

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Steve Early ’71, Torie Osborn ’72, Dennis O’Brien, Kristina Johansson ’14 and Hanna Mahon ’13.5, from left to right

This Wednesday evening, students from this J-Term’s student-led class (led by Hanna Mahon ’13.5 and Kristina Johansson ’14)  A People’s History of Middlebury held a panel discussion titled: Middlebury in the 1960s: Student Resistance and Social Change at Dana. The panel gave the audience a taste of how the anti-war movement (including the school-wide strike in the spring of 1970) and women’s rights movement were present on campus in the late ’60s and early ’70s.

Above is the full-length audio of the discussion, and here are some highlights:

  • At 2.25, Hanna talked briefly about some “little told stories of marginalization and resistance of the college” – of Martin Freeman ’1849 as the first African American graduate of Middlebury College because Alexander Twilight ’1823 actually passed as white during his time here. Additionally, the majority of student body identified themselves as socialist in 1934…
  • At 27.00, when Torie Osborn ’72 first came to Middlebury as a transfer in 1970, there were curfews for women living in Battell (of course it was not co-ed!). So Torie, along with her friends, talked to Dean Wonnacott and got rid of the curfews.
  • At 31.20, Dennis O’Brien, Dean of the College back in the 70s, talked about the building burned down incident in 1970. Recitation Hall, an to-be-abandoned, wooden-frame college building behind Carr Hall was set on fire during the week long suspension of classes in May. 
  • At 58.40, Steve Early ’71, a former Campus editor, talked about the relationship between activism and student paper. 
  • At 1.10.40, Dennis O’Brien explained why the Greek system was abolished at Middlebury.
  • At 1.22.00, Greg Dennis ’74 encouraged audience to get involved in divestment movement on campus now. There has been at least one question dedicated to divestment at different talks on campus recently…

Overall, it was a great panel. Half of the audience – current students – became better informed of Middlebury’s past, while the other half of the audience – alumni from the ’60s and ’70s – enjoyed their reunion!