Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa and champion of the anti-apartheid movement, died today at the age of 95. During his life and surely now after his death he will serve as an example of political activism and resistance to racial discrimination everywhere. By no means will I attempt to write a comprehensive obituary, but the USA Today did a pretty good job. Let us mourn his death and carry on his dream of equality for all.
Rod Abhari ’15 writes in about a new student org on campus:
Are you passionate about drug policy activism, or interested in learning more about it? Do you want to have a voice in campus alcohol and drug policy? Are you Interested in learning how to lobby? If so, we would like to invite you to be a founding member of Middlebury Students for Sensible Drug Policy!
This club is a local chapter of the Students for Sensible Drug Policy, an international student-run drug policy group that advocates for drug policy reform on campus and at the state and national level.
The SSDP boasts an impressive list of policy successes, including lobbying to force Congress to scale back the Higher Education Act Aid Elimination Penalty, which prevents students with drug convictions from receiving financial aid. Nearly 200,00 students have been affected by the penalty. SSDP mobilized 125 student governments to voice their opposition to the unjust policy, built a coalition of more than 300 prominent education, recovery, and civil rights organizations, and lobbied Congress aggressively for reform. As a result, the penalty no longer applies to those who are convicted of drug crimes while they are not in college and receiving financial aid. In other words, if a high school student or a person taking time off from school is convicted, their aid will not be affected when they return to school.
We hope to see you tomorrow!
Date: Tomorrow, Thursday 12/05/2013
Time: 5:00 PM
Place: Gifford Classroom
It’s nearing the end (one more week!) of a whirlwind of a semester. While most semesters tend to have at least a couple of contentious moments, this semester has seen an exceptional share of controversy. So let’s be like Buzzfeed and make a listicle about it. Here is this middbeat writer’s top controversies of the semester.
Disclaimer: Yes, I have thrown together a clearly subjective list without any sort of methodology.
The honor code has become a center-piece of campus discourse as more and more incidents appear to emerge. Check out this article from the Campus entitled “Cheating: Hardly a Secret” . While the sensationalism could have been toned down a notch, it does a decent job of using anecdotes and incident reports to reveal exactly what its title describes—persistent cheating in the classroom. But you also have to be a bit skeptical of “moral crises” sometimes. Do we really think there is that much more cheating now than ever before? I’m not so sure. That’s why this issue is only number 5 on our list.
4. Homophobic note
This troubling series of events has driven much of the conversation about sexuality and, in particular, the threads of homophobia that remain embedded in our community. This episode was heavily documented by Middbeat and the Campus, so it doesn’t need an explanation here. But it clearly has had a large impact on our community.
3. Professor Wax
This event happened just a couple weeks ago. Professor Amy Wax, a UPenn Law Professor and demographer, gave an incredibly jarring talk to a packed room of students and faculty in Hillcrest entitled ”Diverging Family Structure by Race and Class: Economic, Moral Deregulation, or Something Else?”. She proceeded to give what many of the professors in attendance said was an “un-academic” juxtaposition of data and moral judgments, which inevitably sparked an outpour of discourse about race in America. If you were there, you know exactly what I am talking about. If you weren’t, read Middbeat more.
2. Chance the Rapper
Better known as Chance-Gate, I initially thought that this was the most controversial incident of the semester. It has all the elements: student activism, MCAB incompetence, Adam Benay, homophobia, and more. Beginning with Adam’s now famous letter, the student body was able to work within the rules and galvanize support so that everybody who wanted to see Chance the Rapper got to see him. But then, just as the dust started to settle and everything seemed fine, the lyrics controversy erupted, leading to a discussion panel about the types of acts that we bring to this school. On the one hand, I totally understand the need for our community to address issues like these in a productive way, but I ultimately think that it was a bit overblown. We don’t need the lyrics police to come every time a 20-year-old rapper says something inappropriate in a song.
1. The 9/11 Flag Incident
Is it that obvious? I mean, this got national media attention. Just a simple Google search and dozens of articles come up about this incident. What started out as a bit of misplaced activism, quickly ignited a nationwide outrage. Again, I’m not here to recap, just to listicize. But, I think its pretty clear that this is the most controversial incident of the semester. Everyone was talking about it. At the end of the day, this was just a shitty situation for everyone involved: the College, Shireman-Grabowsski, the Abenaki, and everyone in mourning. If you want to read more, check out the Midd Magazine article about it featuring our fearless leader Ronny Leebz.
Well that wraps up my list of the top 5 controversies of the semester. Leave a comment if you have something to say.
UPDATE: This afternoon Dr. Amy Wax gave a talk using demographic data from (elite!) universities to show that massive inequality in our society has been caused by “cultural disparities (that) have emerged by class and race in attitudes and behaviors surrounding family, sexuality, and reproduction” not “economic conditions or social expectations.” If you couldn’t make it we recorded some parts of the Q&A so you can get a taste of what happened:
(We apologize for the quality of the audio)
Here are some place to tune in:
3:35: Amy Wax condescendingly addresses people who call her and her work “racist”
6:40: Amy Wax talks about how we tolerate too many things (like having a child out of wedlock)
8:55: Amy Wax calls out people using “anecdotes” as evidence
10:25: Amy Wax tells us that we should care about the underclass with “broken wings”
11:00: Professor Jonathan Miller Lane asks Amy Wax a question.
15:09: Amy Wax says that all you need to do is these 4 “really simple” things you will never be poor:
1. graduate from high school
2. get married before you have a child
3. take any job and stick with it, and keep working if you can
4. don’t break the law
ORIGINAL: Ok, ok, I know what you’re thinking. You came to check middbeat for a
“Best Places to Poop On Campus Part II” or a new installment of middbeat BEATS, and all you’re getting is another lecture listing. Stick with me, for a second, though, because as [murray]dry as the “Jessica Swift Lecture in Constitutional Law” may sound, things are bound to get heated this afternoon…
For those of you who haven’t heard of Amy Wax (I hadn’t, until a friend brought her to my attention), here’s the lowdown— Dr. Wax was educated at Columbia, Harvard, and Yale (ok, we get it, you’re smart) and is now a law professor at UPenn. She’s done all the professorial stuff- written books, articles, participated in online debates- and has also argued 15 cases before the Supreme Court. Her most recent book, “Race, Wrongs, and Remedies: Group Justice in the 21st Century,” is what she’ll be speaking on in this afternoon’s lecture, entitled ”Diverging Family Structure by Race and Class: Economic, Moral Deregulation, or Something Else?”
Wax’s bio says that she brings a “uniquely insightful approach” to issues like social welfare, same-sex marriage, and government policy. “Uniquely insightful” piqued my interest, so I read some of her articles online, as well as (positive) reviews of her work. Her arguments are neither unique nor insightful, in my opinion; rather, she reiterates some of the oldest and most offensive arguments about gender, race, and class, ones that I’d naively thought had been rejected by the academic world a long time ago. She’s a white academic who claims that her quantitative data trumps the real, lived experiences of marginalized individuals.
Blah, blah, blah, something’s “problematic” again—I know, being offended on everyone else’s behalf seems to be the most popular form of social capital for privileged liberals these days. But I think even the least-often offended of us all can find Amy Wax’s arguments to be pretty messed up.
Here’s Amy on important issues like, I don’t know, the rights of marginalized people:
On Black people:
African-Americans are poor, incarcerated, and unsuccessful because they’ve internalized a “victim mentality” and are too lazy to help themselves.
Wax rejects Critical Race Theory and contemporary concepts of structural racism in exchange for long-refuted arguments about IQ and Cultures of Poverty, stating that, “The most important factors now impeding black progress are behavioral: low educational attainment, poor socialization and work habits, drug use, criminality, paternal abandonment, and non-marital childbearing.” These so-called Black behaviors, Wax says, have remained problems because “the racism drum is being beat, beat, beat constantly”– Blacks have blamed racism for their struggles [well, duh?] and in doing so have not taken responsibility for fixing their own marginalization.
Not only do I find her ideological framework to be racist, plainly and simply, but I also find that she also makes some pretty offensive offhand remarks in explicating it– in a bloggingheads.tv video, for example, she says that a Black man who writes an NYTimes op-ed about racism should “get a life,” and in another says that President Obama has a hidden “black agenda.” Hmm.
On same-sex marriage:
Gay marriage is a no-no because gays can’t parent children in the traditional loving and supportive way that real mommies and daddies can.
Wax says that gays are not entitled to the right to marry because gay parent families “are destined to lack certain valuable attributes”- that is, they’re not the ideal white, middle class, mom-dad-child paradise of 1950′s black-and-white TV. They’re not Daddy’s home, dinner’s on the table, sweetie, wash up before dinner, sport! “This is not prejudice,” though, she says, [sorry, but how?]; it’s just “a recognition of loss and deprivation: a child will grow up without the love and guidance of its natural parents, and may never even know their identity. The state is entitled to acknowledge this reality, and to structure its laws accordingly.”
That is, children of gay parents grow up deprived of the better things that only real biological mommies and daddies can give. She’s not only homophobic, though, you guys! She tells other people their marriages shouldn’t exist either. By extension of her “ideal family” argument, Wax delegitimizes marriages between couples who cannot conceive, who choose to adopt, and who choose to use in-vitro fertilization, not to mention single-parent households, etc. etc. Yikes.
Despite the fact that I vehemently disagree with Dr. Wax, I’m going to attend her lecture this afternoon. As we’ve discussed with respect to recent controversies on campus, like Chance-gate, it’s important for Middlebury to engage with the real and sometimes deeply problematic ideologies that shape the world beyond our bubble (and within it, as much as we’d like to deny that fact). Part of engaging with these issues, though, means questioning “authority,” and challenging the assumption that one’s status as an invited lecturer or one’s position at the front of the classroom can make one “right.”
I think this has the potential to be one the more polarizing lectures of the semester, and that, with our participation, the Q&A session can be an occasion for us all to better articulate and define our own stances on these important issues.
Also, there will be refreshments.
WHAT: Lecture by Amy Wax
WHEN: Today, Thursday 11/21 at 4:30PM
WHERE: Hillcrest 103
Rosalie Wright-Lapin ’15 writes in:
Join us in solidarity for a 6-Mile bike ride (start at Middlebury along the pipeline route and loop back) to combat the construction of the Vermont Fracked Gas Pipeline. The Public Service Board decides whether or not to approve the pipeline this month, so Middlebury College and Township, let’s bring the noise, the blow horns, the torches, the pitchforks, and a bike (and helmet) too! For climate justice!
~ Meet at ADK a little before 11AM ~
To learn more about the issue go here!
www.risingtidevermont.org/ stop-the-vermont-gas-pipeli ne.html
For more info contact Zane Anthony at email@example.com
Date: Tomorrow, Saturday November 16th
Place: ADK circle
Feminist Action at Middlebury is excited to screen the 2012 Oscar nominated documentary film The Invisible War.
When: Tomorrow night, Thursday 13th, at 7pm
Where: Twilight Auditorium.
This film is an incredibly powerful documentary that sheds light on the rampant rate of sexual assault in the United States’ military. Through veterans’ personal narratives of the sexual violence they experienced while serving, primarily perpetrated by their own commanders and fellow officers, the film examines how the very hierarchy of power within forces perpetuates a culture that tolerates sexual harassment and sexual assault. The film cumulates with a call for a change in policies to help end such a pervasive, violent act to help protect the people fighting to keep our country safe.
Watch the trailer:
We recommend you find a way to come to this panel and discussion. Especially in light of all this. Let’s look inward at our community people! We have important things to sort out. Also we heard there will be bomb sushi…
Date: Tomorrow, Friday November 8th.
Place: McCollough Social Space
UPDATE 11/7/13: The Campus posted a link to its recording of the “Unpacking Chance the Rapper” forum that happened on Monday (its at the bottom of the story). It’s really worth listening to no matter where you land on the issues surrounding Chance the Rapper performing at Midd (many different perspectives on his controversial lyrics, both critical and supportive, were voiced that evening). The discussion moved way beyond Chance the Rapper and into if and how we can become a safe and supportive community of individuals with many different intersecting identities. (LDubs)
UPDATE: If anyone wants to use the comments of this post to leave their impressions/thoughts from tonight’s discussion we encourage that (while acknowledging anonymous comments don’t always make for the richest dialogue). Also, after the discussion ended in Axinn 229, a member of Palana welcomed anyone who wanted to to head to Palana house (two streets behind proctor) to continue the discussion. (LDubs)
UPDATE: We were going to try to liveblog this discussion but quickly realized that liveblogging was not an appropriate platform to convey what’s going on in this packed room. There has already been a lot discussing and confronting really important and really sensitive issues–race, sexuality, oppression–(which does not happen enough at this school, we might add). Trying to capture a dynamic discussion on a liveblog led to butchering and simplifying what people were saying. Fortunately, we heard the Campus is recording this so we will let you know when that coverage goes up because what’s being discussed now should be heard outside Axinn 229. (LDubs)
Censorship. Homophobia. Free Speech. Hate speech.
These are all terms we’ve heard debated over the past few weeks in response to a recent incident of homophobia on campus and the controversy over Chance the Rapper’s lyrics.Want to be a part of the conversation about how we navigate these issues? Check out the forum “Unpacking Chance the Rapper: Exploring the complexities around Community, Artistic Expression and Academic Freedom” happening tonight from 7:00-8:30PM in Axinn 229.
The candid conversations will be led by Asst. Professor and Chair of the Dance Program Christal Brown, Assoc. Professor of American Studies and Director of CCSRE Roberto Lint Sagarena, MCAB President Elizabeth Fouhey ’14, SGA President Rachel Liddell ’15, and Verbal Onslaught Lead-organizer Sadé Williams ’14.5.
WHAT: “Unpacking Chance the Rapper” forum
WHEN: Today, 10/4, 7:00-8:30PM
WHERE: Axinn 229
The Otter Nonsense Players, also known as the Otters, are having their second show of the semester tonight at 10:30. The show will take place in the McCullough Social Space, and it will be the debut of the Otters’ newest member Margaret Lindon ’16. The group packed Johnson for their first show, which was hilarious. AND, they got their own street. Check the damn picture.
Where: McCullough Social Space
When: 10:30 pm