Category Archives: Feature

Ron Liebowitz’s Invitation for Discussion: A Translation by an of-age Middlebury student

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A particularly cunning student recently sent middbeat a satirical translation of Ron Liebowitz’s recent invitation to the student body to discuss campus social life.   While a magnanimous gesture from our President, students have been doubting how much this discussion will actually do to change the social atmosphere at the college.  The author wanted to preface the piece with the following:

The intention of this piece is not at all to personally attack President Liebowitz, whose invitation for discussion has been extremely well received and deserves respect.  I am caricaturizing and satirizing his very reasonable words in order to provoke students to think critically about the actual issues at hand – and hopefully inspire a laugh. After reading this, I hope students will consider the social motivation of students to perform certain behaviors, the motivations of the administration to implement certain policies, and the various effects thereof.

That being said, let’s get to the bottom of what Liebo was really getting at here:

Dear Students,

Ron Liebo: I am keenly aware of the frustration surrounding student social life on campus, and how the behavior of a few has unfortunately, but predictably, shaped our policies that limit social options for the responsible majority.

Translation: I am keenly aware of your recent complaints surrounding social life on campus, and how the inability of a few of your asinine peers to hold their liquor has ruined it for the rest of you. In response, we’ve implemented policies that make socializing within two miles of an open container more trouble than it’s reasonably worth. Don’t point the finger at us, though; clearly upperclassmen haven’t been fulfilling their responsibility to properly haze their underage peers, an age-old social practice that forces individuals to rapidly learn their limits of consumption, or die. Despite our best efforts, you assholes continue to try to “host parties” and “socialize” and “get wasted”. It’s almost like the more we try to control you, the more you try to rebel. Da fuck.

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What’s With the Proctorbowl Instagram Celebrity?

Proctorbowl1As the infinite struggle to keep proctor bowls in their designated locations (no, your desk is not a designated location) wages on between the dining staff and Middlebury students, the infamous dish is traveling extensively, spreading Middlebury spirit to the far corners of the United States. Documenting these adventures is the anonymous Instagram account @proctorbowl whose bio reads: “Proctor bowls: where they’re at.” They’ve traveled pretty far from Middlebury, and it might be awhile before they come home. Sorry Proctor Staff.” The mysterious proctorbowl would like to remain anonymous to maintain the elusive and difficult to find nature of proctor bowls but Middbeat was able to score an exclusive interview with the student behind the account to answer some of your questions about the far-flung explorations. 

Middbeat: So, what is Proctor bowl?

Proctor Bowl (hereby referred to as PB): It’s sort of a hemispherical, hollow object that you can put soup in or water, if you’re out of cups.

Middbeat: Why did you start the Instagram?

PB: The original idea came from the Crampus with the back cover of their 2013 issue. It was a map showing Proctor bowls after they left Middlebury- where they were at. So I wanted to document that.

Middbeat: What kind of pictures do you post?

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Recap: Silent March Against Police Brutality

IMG_1321[1] This past Wednesday marked the National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality, a nationwide movement to bring attention to and reform racist and oppressive policing.  In a show of solidarity, about 60 students and faculty gathered for a silent march, toting signs and candles from Ross dining hall to Olin and Mead Chapel.  Students broke the silence only to present readings giving personal and historical context to the police brutality and racial oppression inherent to the country’s criminal justice system.  The march at Middlebury was organized by a number of campus cultural organizations, including Distinguished Men of Color, Women of Color, Alianza, and Amnesty International.

The march was a point of action in Middlebury’s student movement to raise questions on the persistence of state violence and an invitation for those who aren’t familiar to get involved and join the national dialogue on race and policing.  Marchers wore black in part as mourning for the victims who have fallen but also as David Ollin Pesquiera ’17, co-chair of Alianza, put it “to symbolize the obscure blindness of our society to do right against wrong.”

While at Middlebury it can be difficult to comprehend the extent to which certain communities close to campus, and all across the country experience the backside of the law.  Just this past summer, national awareness of police brutality reached a peak not seen since the riots following the beating of Rodney King in 1991.  Between the demonstrations and outrage over the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO and mass mobilization following the death of Eric Garner in Staten Island at the hands of the NYPD, amonst other instances of police brutality, the issue many have been all too familiar with for years has come to the forefront of our national dialogue.  The march this past Wednesday was a reminder to the Middlebury community of the importance of this dialogue, and an opportunity for students to stand in solidarity with the nationwide movement to end police brutality and racialized policing.

middbeat caught up with some folks participating in the march about their reasons for showing support.  See on after the jump to read their accounts, and check out more photos from the march.

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

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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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Voices From Abroad: Isabelle Stillman ’16, Nepal, Pt. 2

The view from Isabelle's apartment in Kathmandu

The view from Isabelle’s apartment in Kathmandu

Voices from Abroad is back, and we’re stoked to present a second installment from Isabelle Stillman ’16, an incredible writer studying abroad in Nepal this semester. At Midd, Isabelle studies English and creative writing, and also runs The Orchard Arts JournalShe’s based in Kathmandu, Nepal this semester through SIT Study Abroad (a non-Midd owned study abroad many students enjoy). If you dug Isabelle’s last snap-shot style narrative, you’ll love this piece, describing a taxi ride in Nepal and the invaluable lesson it taught Isabelle: to approach new challenges “with a helmet on, but the visor up.” 

BUT FIRST: If you’re a Midd student presently studying abroad, living abroad, doing something abroad, and you’d like to share your experience, please email We’d love to feature your writing in the Voices from Abroad series, and are open to absolutely any style – from poetry to blog posts to stories, you name it. We look forward to hearing from you.

Now, read up, and enjoy:

It was raining on my walk home the other night, and getting late (that is, a little after 7:00), so I decided to take a taxi. I stuck my hand out as I walked, palm down and fingers clapping against my palm – the gesture to hail a taxi, and to tell someone to come here (very confusing the first time your teacher calls you up to the front of the classroom). There weren’t many taxis out that night, and the ones that were were full, so I was almost halfway home by the time one pulled over. Two men sat in the front seat. As I stepped closer, the driver leaned over the other one so I could see his eyes through the low window. “Yes, where you going?”

{On taxis and transportation in Nepal: there are no street addresses, so its best to make sure the driver knows where he is going before you get in the car; once in the cab, you name a neighborhood and point left and right  (with your lips) as you get closer to the correct destination. Working meters are rare, and bargaining is expected, but a price should be negotiated before you get in the cab to avoid end-of-the-ride rupee disputes that are likely to be weighed in on by passersby and nearby shopkeepers; that being said, if you are not Nepali, they will try very hard to wildly overcharge you. Taxis often pull up to me (and other blatantly non-Nepali people) even if I haven’t so much as looked their way, because I’m white and therefore probably want to be driven.}

“Handigaun, past Bhatbetini,” I said, crouching a little to look through the window.

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Family Weekend Keynote Speaker: Mary Robinson

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MCAB’s speaker series has really done us a solid this year, bringing former Irish President, human rights and environmental advocate, and UN High Commissioner Mary Robinson to Mead Chapel this Saturday at 7 PM.  middbeat recently caught up with event organizers Nick Orr and Zoe Kaslow ’15 to get the low down on Robinson and how the Speakers Committee organized the event.  Read on after the jump for the detes.

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Alcohol Policy at Stanford and Middlebury: Which Approach is Right?


The most recent spark in the alcohol policy debate comes not from Middlebury, but from across the country at Stanford University where Miriam Pollock recently published an editorial comparing Middlebury and Stanford’s alcohol policy.  An incredibly well-written, and insightful piece, Pollock’s perspective casts new light on the different approaches collegiate institutions can take in addressing alcohol consumption.  What follows is a re-posting of the Stanford Review piece.  Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments below.  Credit is due to Miriam Pollock and the Stanford Review.

Students file into the stands above Youngman Field, decked out in white and blue. The visiting team scores a quick touchdown, dampening the crowd’s spirits. But soon thereafter, quarterback Matt Milano launches an eighty-yard drive that ends in a dramatic touchdown. The students and alumni in the stadium go wild.

Meanwhile, a junior, removed from the action of the game, stumbles across Route 30 into the woods and unloads his lunch. He can barely walk. The junior had drunk heavily at the pre-football game tailgate. A Public Safety officer spots the student and determines he needs to be transported to the hospital. The student is sent to the hospital and safely recovers from his alcohol poisoning. Subsequently, he will receive both punishment and counseling.

The scene should be familiar to anyone who has attended a college football game: some students go too crazy at the tailgates, endangering themselves and others. Often, they will never even make it to the game. This scenario — with a different stadium, different quarterback, and different students — could play out almost anywhere in the US. But in this case the specific game took place at Middlebury College, a small liberal arts school in Vermont.

Understandably, the Middlebury administration — like many college administrations across the country — wants to reduce incidents of binge drinking at tailgates. And so, on September 16th of this year, Erin Quinn, Director of Athletics, announced a new policy. Alcohol was completely prohibited at tailgates, even for those 21 and over. (“Loud” music was also banned, causing students to question whether the policy was meant to protect them or to prevent them from having fun.)

While ensuring students remain safe is a laudable goal, this misguided policy is unlikely to accomplish that. In fact, this policy may even encourage binge drinking. Furthermore, it impinges on student freedom. Contrast all this with Stanford University, which has a far more relaxed alcohol policy. Residential staff champion an “open-door” policy. Students are encouraged to drink with their doors open; in turn, Residence Assistants (RAs) promise only to intervene if students’ safety is at risk. Is Stanford’s model more effective at keeping students safe? Which is right — the zero-tolerance approach, or Stanford’s more tolerant one?

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Homecoming Weekend: Motown Dance, Mingling, Panel Discussion, Free Noonie’s and More!


If there’s one fall semester highlight we can all agree on, it’s Homecoming Weekend, and Middlebury’s student group Women of Color know how to celebrate right! WOC writes in to tell us about all the awesome events they are co-sponsoring for Homecoming 2014, October 17-19 (everyone is welcome at every event!):

African American Alliance (AAA), Alianza, Distinguished Men of Color (DMC), PALANA House (Pan-African, Latino, Asian, and Native American House), and WOC have a jam packed schedule for this homecoming weekend, and we hope ya’ll are ready and excited!! Here’s what’s up:

We are kicking off the weekend with a reception (Friday, 6-7:30, Carr Hall) where students and alums are free to mingle with one another and have some free munches from The Grille! Following the reception, we will transition into a panel (7:30-9, Carr Hall) where alums will talk about their life after Midd. So, if you are interested in what that liberal arts degree will really do for your future, make sure to come out to the panel! Alums from different generations and various career fields will be joining us!

But don’t get too tied down with future planning, because we will be celebrating our flawless selves in PALANA House Friday Night (10:30) with an all-night dance party with Darkstar DJs!

But wait, there’s more! Come support the football team for a Homecoming win and stop by the AAA Concessions Stand (Saturday, 1pm, Football Field) to support the African American Alliance in an age old tradition of providing food for game-goers.

If you didn’t get a chance to dance with Darkstar, don’t fret because the best and baddest party of the year is on Saturday…Black Pearl Ball (10-2am, Coltrane Lounge)! This year’s theme is Motown! Think Diana Ross and The Supremes! Jackson 5! Marvin Gaye!

Come dressed in semi-formal attire wear or your best 1970s outfit or whatever floats your boat, but please leave cultural appropriation at home!

Get ready to dance down the soul train line. So bring your moves, grooves, and let’s party like it’s the 1970s! After a fun, energy-filled weekend, come down to Chellis House on Sunday (11AM) for your last chance to connect with alums of color until next year and yes, there will be brunch catered by Noonie’s, that is if you can wake up from last night ;)

Events Schedule:

Reception - 6 – 7:30 PM in Carr Hall
Panel – 7:30 - 9PM in Carr Hall
Dark Star DJ Party – 10:30 PM in PALANA House

Homecoming Game AAA Concession Stand – 1pm at the football field
Black Pearl Ball - 10 PM – 2 AM Coltrane Lounge (accessible by ramp through the Adirondack House CCI)

Brunch - 11 AM in the Chellis House

SOUL TRAIN, Full Force performs, early 1980s, 1971-

Professor of the Week: Svea Closser

BJS-20090615-6x6-01bWe are proud to present Svea Closser, this week’s featured professor from the Sociology and Anthropology Department. Svea is a medical anthropologist from Michigan who has done intensive research around the world and teaches one of Middlebury’s most popular classes: Global Health, as well as various other classes in the SOAN department.

Svea’s amazing life began in a very small, rural town of about 20,000 people in the upper peninsula of Michigan, hours away from any city. She started her liberal arts career on the West Coast at Pomona College studying religion and biology, never taking a single anthropology class. Her involvement in the medical anthropology field began after college when she received a Fulbright Grant to go to Pakistan. Her time in Pakistan led her to the field that is now her specialty, but at the time she believed she had made a earth shattering discovery of a topic no one had heard of before!

When she returned to the states she worked in LA at a nonprofit serving Medicare patients which gave her the chance to learn a lot about the American health care system to complement her extensive knowledge on international health systems. She went back to school to do graduate work at Emory University in Atlanta but spent her summers in Pakistan. Overall Svea estimates that she spent three years in Pakistan and has become fluent in Urdu. She was able to further sharpen her language skills by marrying a Pakistani man and speaking Urdu at home but hasn’t spoken it much since coming to Middlebury.

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Atwater Dining Has New Coffee Machines!

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Perhaps we don’t have all the same thoughts when eating in Proctor, but if there’s one dining hall blunder we can all agree on, it’s the coffee. Quite simply, it sucks. Watery, tasteless, strange flavors, is it even caffeinated? We could go on.

Thankfully, Atwater has come through, again proving itself far superior to it’s peers: There are now two brand new coffee machines in Atwater dining hall, located by the first food line, next to the soda machine that, cough, still doesn’t work (beggars can’t be choosers). Dining services told us “It was time for a change, as the old machines were rather ancient, and couldn’t produce the best product.” Turn down for that.

But, is the coffee any better? A quick survey of Wednesday morning Atwater breakfasters concludes that yes, it is somewhat of an improvement. “Still not fantastic,” remarks Cate Stanton ’15.5, “but definitely better.”

Unsurprisingly, Atwater wins again. So, perhaps ditch the eggs to order for a day, and enjoy some freshly brewed Atwater coffee. They’ve got cantaloupe and pineapple, too. It’s all very exciting.