Category Archives: Culture

OP-ED: Hit WHO 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 This requirement is outdated, anachronistic, and fundamentally discriminatory.

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MIDDBEAT RELEASE: MCAB Fall 2015 Comedians Will Be…

Middbeat’s breakin the news, the MCAB Fall 2015 Comedians have been released! MCAB Social Co-Chairs Claudia Esteva ’15 and Nitya Mankad ’16 write in to let us know the details:

Attention Middlebury Students! On Saturday, November 22, MCAB is delighted to present comedic duo Jake and Amir from College Humor. Jake Hurwitz and Amir Blumenfeld are the writers/actors/editors behind the Webby award winning Internet series “Jake and Amir.” The duo have released two videos a week for over four years, with each episode now averaging more than 500,000 views. As a series, “Jake and Amir” has won several awards including the Webby’s People Voice for Best Web Series in 2010 and has been named one of PCMag’s top 15 best web-only shows. Their series has also appeared on television on MTV’s “The CollegeHumor Show.” The two have recently released their first ever half hour special, “Fired” available for online streaming and in DVD form.

They will be joined by special guest Jon Rineman, who is currently the head monologue writer on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon. He has appeared as a stand-up and performer on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and tours the country performing stand-up in comedy clubs and colleges.

Jake and Amir will be performing their podcast “If I Were You.” Join our hosts as they dispense wisdom on areas of life they are qualified to talk about. Also in areas they are not qualified to talk about.

Tickets go on sale at the Box Office this Monday, November 3rd, at 6 am. They will be $12 online, and $15 at the door.

Sounds awesome, thanks MCAB! We be thur. 

Date: Tickets: November 3, Performance: November 22
Time: Tickets: 6 am, Performance: Doors open 8:30 pm, show starts at 9
Place: McCullough Social Space

Talk TODAY: “Sex, Lies, and Stereotypes”

sex_lies_sterotypesTake a break from your busy schedule today and check out ”Sex, Lies and Stereotypes: Do We Ask the Right Questions About Language and Gender?,” a public talk by Deborah Cameron, a Professor of Language and Communication at the University of Oxford. This is the first talk of the 2014-15 Ana-Martínez-Lage Lecture Series in Linguistics, and focuses on important issues regarding how language shapes our perceptions of gender differences, among other things. Plus, free refreshments!

Date: Thursday, October 30th
4:30-5:45 pm
Robert A. Jones ’59 Conference Room

Ambiguity, Inquiry, Dialogue: The Visual Thinking Strategies Teaching Method and Higher Education

Image from VTS website, they ask: What's going on in this image?

Image from VTS website, they ask: What’s going on in this image?

Sarah Larsen writes in to tell us about a fascinating lecture being held today by Dabney Hailey, a curator and educator who promotes Visual Thinking Strategies, a program that “transforms the way students think and learn through programs based in theory and research that use discussions of visual art to significantly increase student engagement and performance.” If you’re interested in art history, museums, educational theory, or creative thinking at large, this lecture should be worth checking out. As Sarah explains:

Curator and educator Dabney Hailey will facilitate a discussion about an artwork to demonstrate the teaching method, Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS). She then will address some key questions: What is visual thinking (or visual literacy), why does it matter, and how might it be developed in undergraduate students? How can open-ended, rigorous discussions about art, such as VTS conversations, enable academic museums to more effectively meet and influence curricular needs across disciplines? Describing the ways in which VTS cultivates the process of inquiry, creates comfort with ambiguity, and fosters collaboration, Hailey will draw on her experiences applying the method in a range of classes (Anthropology, Biology, Business, Neuroscience, Philosophy, and Public Policy, among others) at Brandeis University’s Rose Art Museum. This lecture is Sponsored by the Museum of Art and the Department of History of Art and Architecture. The Museum will remain open until 7:00 PM for post-lecture visitors.

Date: Today, October 29
Time: Lecture 4:30 – 5:30 pm, Museum open until 7 pm
Place: CFA Room 125

Awkward Family Photos Co-Founder Visits Midd on an Appropriate Weekend

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Mike Bender (’97), the co-founder of the Awkward Family Photos website, book, and photo exhibit is a Middlebury graduate. This past Saturday, Oct. 25, Bender gave a “Gallery Talk” about his career as a curator of awkward family photos. His talk was especially relevant because it was Fall Parent’s Weekend.

About 80 people filled Wilson Hall in McCullough auditorium to hear Bender articulate what has motivated him to collect more than 2,000 awkward family photos over the past five years. “We’ve all been awkward at some point in our lives,” he said, eliciting laughter from a crowd comprised mostly of parents accompanied by their college-aged offspring. With regard to the forced happiness that people try to conjure for family portraits, Bender said, “family is not all smiles, it’s all the things in between.”

One of Bender’s guiding tenants is that “family is awkward… When a group of people with the same last name and different personalities are forced to spend most of their lives together, plenty of uncomfortable moments are sure to follow.” Surveying the immediate milieu of Middlebury family units, however, the adjective “awkward” didn’t jump out immediately. Instead, I saw a sea of people that could stand in for Gap models: preppy fall coats, smart eyewear; mothers with tidy haircuts of convincingly youthful hues wearing Lululemon exercise jackets and clogs; fathers sporting college baseball caps, sensible slip-on Merrell shoes, pastel button-up shirts, and of course, sweater vests.

But maybe the acute conventionality of the average Middlebury family translates into some incongruous family photos. Michelle Yang ’17.5 particularly appreciates the medium of the family portrait because “It’s one snapshot that doesn’t capture the intricacies of a family,” she says. “You don’t know who’s on good terms with whoever, or if dinner sucked last night. You don’t get that.” In other words, family photos are most interesting when they communicate dynamics that the family is not trying to advertise. The discrepancy between the sought-after impression and the unintentionally implied reality makes us laugh.

The live portraits of student-parent relationships provided over Fall Parent’s Weekend at Middlebury probably reflect Yang’s opinion. They are most interesting to observe when they reveal clues to the tone of interaction at the dinner table, to internal antagonisms and alliances, to mutually tolerated nuisances – the things that represent us sincerely, if uncomfortably.

In the spirit of unapologetically embracing family awkwardness, middbeat invites you to submit photos of yourself or your family. Preferably aged ones, because your recent family photos could only be graceful and alluring, right?

All photos can be submitted to middbeatATgmailDOTcom with the subject heading FAMILY PHOTOS. The photos will be featured on middbeat and the most awkward or entertaining photo will receive a prize!

Wesleyan’s Foss Hill and Universal Social Space on Middlebury’s Campus

Foss Hill 2

This post is intended to be the beginning of a conversation about campus social life leading up to this coming Sunday’s conversation with President Liebowitz.  While the conversation over the past month has focused predominantly on alcohol policy, other pieces of campus life, such as exclusivity, must be taken into account as well.  Students talk frequently to a perceived clickiness, and social division in the student body.  This post hopes to open up discussion regarding potential avenues for inclusivity.  Please comment, argue, and expand on the conversation below. 

One of the things I think I miss most about the school I transferred from, Wesleyan University, is Foss Hill, the center piece of the campus geography.  Whether it was through pure geological luck, or the careful crafting of campus designers, it was one of the few places on campus where you would either intentionally leave the comforts of your dorm to hang out with friends, or accidentally end up engaged in a conversation, smoking a joint, or playing frisbee with.  It was equidistant from pretty much everywhere on campus, it was big enough not to be merely a corridor between classes, open enough so that 100 people could each be with their small group of friends without being overheard by others, and had the added bonus of being part of a social contract that eschewed oversight or supervision from the administration.  If you stood in the middle of the hill on a particularly nice day, you could see students rolling a joint, doing their homework, sunbathing, doing yoga, walking to class, playing music, engaging in student activism throwing a frisbee, playing football, reciting poetry, napping, and hooking up simply by turning a circle.

While there are comparable spaces on Midd’s campus, namely Battell Beach, I have always felt the lack of a place like this on campus that drew students in like a magnet, and pacified them enough so that they’d stay and allow themselves ten minutes of devoted decompression.  There’s no place that occupies your periphery while walking across campus where you can count on students being for a broad array of reasons that do not simply involve eating, working, and sleeping.  A place hat beckons you to sit down and allow for the constant pulse of activity that drives this campus fade away if for only a short while.

Past posts of this type have called for the creation of some new communal space that students could truly call their own.  Rather than creation, here I call for designation.  Designating a space on campus where students go to do whatever it is they want to do in the presence of other students.  It increasingly appears to be a consensus on campus that Crossroads, for all of its wonderful qualities (coffee, pool, big screen, trivia night, sushi, the grille, concerts), often feels somewhat alienating and institutional.  Many view the dining halls as the optimal community spots, but I cannot say that I have seen people do much more than eat, work, and talk within the walls of Proctor, Ross, and Atwater. Battell Beach may be the closest thing we have to an optimal community space, but as one whose life is generally confined to the south side of campus, I rarely pass through.

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Tom the Record & Vintage Clothes Man Here Today


It can be hard out there for a hipster. But, if you’re in need of new vintage clothes and records, we’re informed “Tom the Record Man” will be selling his goods on Proctor Terrace today from 9-5. We’re not positive who Tom is but his familiar description on go/events convinces us he’s a regular presence here at Midd. So stop by and stock up, friends.

Date: Today, 10/27
Time: 9 am – 5 pm
Place: Proctor Terrace

REMINDER: Middlebury Geographic Submissions Due 10/31

PosterCoversmall copy

We want to remind you that Midd’s premier student-run publication for independent research, travel, and cartography Middlebury Geographic, is now accepting submissions for its fall issue. Middlebury Geographic is designed to capture and celebrate the stories, independent research, and worldwide initiatives of the Middlebury College student body. Middlebury Geographic attempts to reflect and reinforce the college’s tradition of international awareness, diversity and critical inquiry.

Inspired by the widely circulated National Geographic and J.B. Jackson’s Landscape magazine, Middlebury Geographic combines quality journalism with narrative photography and creative cartography, in attempt to present geographic concepts to the “intelligent layman,” rather than the specialist. Since established in the Spring of 2009, Middlebury Geographic has continued to publish two issues every academic year.  Check out past issues here.

If you are interested in writing a short or long piece, or submitting photography or maps, send them on over to

Submissions are due by Halloween.  Big thanks to Lillie Hodges ’15.5 & Anthea Viragh ’16.5 for the tip and for organizing this year’s publications.

Classics Marathon Reading, This Weekend!

unnamedAs we’re all pretty damn nerdy at Midd, it’s fairly likely all our parents have the geek gene too. So, if you’ve got family on campus, or are just looking for a fun academic alternative to homework, be sure to stop by and/or sign up for the Annual Classics Marathon Reading taking place today through Sunday at the Davis Family Library! Students, professors, and community members will be continuously reading Virgil’s Aeneid, and we can guarantee it’ll be “epic.”

Erika Sloan ’16 writes in to describe the event:

Every year during Fall Family Weekend the Classics Department holds a
marathon reading of one of the ancient epics. This year it’s the
Aeneid, Vergil’s tale of the Trojan hero Aeneas’ flight from Troy and
subsequent travels and battles over land and sea to ultimately reach
Italy and lay the groundwork for the founding of Rome.

The reading will be held outside the Davis Family Library this weekend
on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Sign-up at go/epic for a 30-minute
time slot to read from the Aeneid (in English!) and arrive when it’s
your turn, or just come by to listen this weekend!

It’s a lot of fun and a great liberal arts/Classics tradition – There
will be a laurel wreath and baklava for readers as well!

Contact with any questions. We hope to see you
all there!

Date: Saturday-Sunday, October 25-26
Time: 3-6 pm
Place: Outside the Davis Family Library

Don’t forget to sign up for a 30-minute reading time slot at go/epic!


Possession is Nine Tenths of the Law

PINTOTL poster


Come check out another amazing M Gallery Exhibition featuring Sam Tolzmanm, ’14.5

When: Saturday, October 25 from 2 to 8 PM
Where: M Gallery | The Old Stone Mill | #3 Mill Street | Middlebury, VT 05753
Cost: Free

Here is the press release from M Gallery:




M Gallery Exhibit Press Release

Possession is nine tenths of the law | Sam Tolzmann


  • We should never include a phone number on public listings. Contact the gallery directors if such a situation should arise.
  • If an email address will be publicly visible it should be:

Possession is nine tenths of the law

Sam Tolzmann, ’14.5

Saturday, Oct. 25th


Brief Description:
Samuel Tolzmann ’14.5′s final exhibition at Middlebury, Possession is nine tenths of the law. combines drawing and interactive performance within a specifically engineered, highly manipulated spatial environment designed to be both disruptive and immersive. It is an intensely private meditation on the essential horror of sexual embodiment. Obsessively figural and thoroughly allusive, the exhibition twists domestic and gallery routine as it attempts to express queerly fraught visions of failure: of illegible masculinities, unattainable fantasies, alien nourishments, botched exorcisms, pointless labors, ineffectual communication, and malfunctioning or altogether insufficient boundaries. The artist probes the psychological value and social contexts of punishment, performance, (pro)creation, and other repetitive actions that frequently occur in the home, ambiguously troubling the conventional power dynamics motivating identity and intimacy. His range of depicted, assumed, and imposed postures appear violently degrading, subjugating, and self-abnegating, but this reading is complicated by their deliberate intentionality, voluntary dutifulness, and willful urgency.

The M Gallery opens at 2:00 PM and at 3:00 PM SHARP Tolzmann will debut two new performances back-to-back, Power failure and Bread alone. Family members visiting for the weekend are encouraged to attend as well, however, please note that due to the adult nature of the work, no one under 18 years of age will be admitted. Light refreshments will be served.


M Gallery | The Old Stone Mill | #3 Mill Street | Middlebury, VT 05753