Category Archives: Feature

Midd’s Most Popular Classes: Physiological Psychology

imgresThis series will be taking a look at some of the most popular courses here at Midd – the ones that you hear your friends and Middkid course evals raving about, and that have waitlists longer than the Atwater lunch line.

This week’s spotlight is on Physiological Psychology (Psych0301), a course that explores the biological basis of human behavior and features hands-on labs that involve studying real human brains, dissecting sheep brains, and investigating the effects of hallucinogenic drugs (on lab mice, not yourselves…). Maybe you do those things in your free time anyway – who are we to judge; but at least in Physio-psych, you get bona fide college credit for it! This course is so popular that it’s been offered every semester since 2010, sometimes in two sections due to demand; and although it’s primarily targeted at third and fourth year psych and neuroscience majors it’s open to others and garners an infamously long waitlist almost every time. Taught this semester by Clarissa Parker (though taught in the past by Kim Cronise and Mark Stefani) this 20-person class boasted a 30-person waitlist and was eventually over-enrolled to 26 students. It’s anyone’s guess as to whether this demand is driven by extremely interesting course material or by the popularity of super cool, super feisty Prof Parker – but whether you’re showing up to carve up some brains or to hear Professor Parker use awkward yet effective sexual metaphors to describe neuronal communication, you definitely won’t be bored. Did we mention that your homework is a coloring book? Yeah, it’s that sweet. Sure, this class is a lot of information and a lot of work; but hey, you’re probably used to that by now (and if you’re not, WHAT CLASSES HAVE YOU BEEN TAKING? SHARE YOUR SECRETS).

If you’re unable to claw your way into this class through Bannerweb registration or behemoth waitlists, here are some alternatives:
if you’re interested in the biological basis of behavior: Sensation and Perception (Psych0303)
if you’re interested in Professor Parker: Intro Psych (Psych0105) if you don’t have much background in the subject; or Genes, Brains, and Behavior (Psych0434) if you do.

Yellowjacket Traps

It is Fall—and the Yellowjackets (Vespula maculifrons) are here. (Though they’ve already been here since late spring.) So what’s the college doing to combat these aggressive, stingy pests? Traps, most noticeabley seen outside of Proctor Dining Hall.

_DSC0055 _DSC0049

According to Professor of Biology Tom Root, the wasps are attracted to the sugar water or pheromones in traps, fly up into the trap, and indulge in the sugar water or pheromones. Because the wasps don’t know how to fly down once trapped, they fly around aimlessly until they die of dehydration (the former trap) or eventually drown in water (the latter trap).


Yellowjackets flying around aimlessly. (click to zoom)



             Drowned Yellowjackets and other insects.

So what exactly is a Yellowjacket? Let us compare them to the humble Honey Bee.

  • One is a bee and the other is a wasp.
  • They’re both about the same size: 1/2 inch. 
  • Honey bees have amber/brown and black alternating stripes and appear fuzzy. Yellow jackets have bright yellow and black stripes.
  • Honey bees die when they use they’re stingers. Yellow jackets do not (their stinger is retractable!)
  • The honey bees behavior towards humans is generally gentle—unless its hive is threatened. Yellow Jackets are notoriously aggressive.
  • Honey bees like nectar and pollen. Yellow jackets like to consume other insects, sugary drinks, and human food (especially meat). (Hellllllo Proctor!) Yellowjackets also live on/in the ground (Helllllo again Proctor!).

Before you turn those traps upside down—they’ll be gone in the winter. But this really begs an important question. Why aren’t these traps outside of Atwater Dining Hall?

Poet and Novelist Lindsay Hill Reading Today


If you’re into creative writing or just like to read, which we hope most of you do, this is an event not to miss: This afternoon at 4:30 poet and novelist Lindsay Hill will be reading from and discussing his new novel, Sea of Hookswinner of the 2014 Pen Center USA Fiction Award. If you’ve never heard of Hill (no worries, we hadn’t either), now’s the time to get familiar, as he’s gaining tremendous visibility and many accolades. New York magazine and Publishers Weekly both named Sea of Hooks a top 10 book of 2013, and portions of its opening chapters were published in Middlebury’s own New England Review. Publishers Weekly describes the book as “an almost impossibly sustained performance from beginning to end. Nearly every paragraph astonishes, every moment rich with magic and daring.”

So, come hear Hill read, get inspired, and perhaps write something of your own. Or just read his stuff.

Date: Today, September 25
Time: 4:30-5:45pm
Place: Axinn Center Abernethy Room
Cost: Free

Liebowitz Weighs in on Dry Tailgating Policy


Pictured: Not Middlebury

If you receive four thousand college emails a day and aggressively delete them like I do, you may have missed the seemingly inconspicuous email from the Office of the President that went out to Middlebury students, faculty, and staff today. This email, co-authored by President Liebowitz, Dean Collado, and A.D. Quinn, aimed to provide context for the policy change, citing the “desire to create a safe, responsible, and welcoming” atmosphere, the priority of “health and safety of the students,” and encouraging “responsible, high standards of behavior” which we seem to have fallen short of. While it was nice to finally hear from Liebs, a voice who has been absent thus far from the discussion, the email missed some major points – and Liebowitz’s position was surprising considering his past attacks on the federal drinking age.

Many of you may not remember – or be aware – that in 2008 President Liebowitz supported former president John McCardell’s “Amethyst Initiative,” a movement calling for the reconsideration of the drinking age being set at 21. He and 134 other college presidents signed a statement suggesting the current drinking age led to a culture of dangerous binge drinking, and that encouraging abstinence from drinking does not result in positie behavioral change from students (read the entire text of the Amethyst Initiative statement here). Ron was even quoted in a New York Times article affirming his concerns about the dangers posed by such a restricting drinking age on college campuses. “Before the age was increased, we had a very different environment. You had kids drinking beer and getting sick on beer, but you didn’t have gross alcohol poisoning and binge drinking,” he claimed. Nobody doubts that he’s serious when he says he wants to keep us safe, but considering his past statements linking restrictive drinking policy to increased binge drinking and alcohol poisoning it’s surprising he would try to achieve this by creating an even more restrictive environment – even for students of legal drinking age – than already exists at Middlebury. Tailgates are certainly used as a party space, and often get out of control – but has it occurred to those in charge that this is a symptom of the current restrictive environment? As one of the ONLY functions/spaces where students are able to gather, socialize, and drink, it’s no surprise that tailgates are used as an outlet for repressed social behaviors that have few other avenues to express themselves. Obviously, the behavior at tailgates isn’t stellar; but if you treat young adults like children, don’t be surprised when they act like it. The new dry tailgating policy doesn’t address the source of the problem, only one of its many manifestations – and in doing so, it’s potentially making the problem even worse by further limiting the spaces where drinking culture can exist in the open and develop responsibly.

Middbeat wants to know: what are your thoughts on the relationship between a restrictive environment and irresponsible alcohol consumption? what if any spaces and events on campus give students the opportunity to drink casually rather than with the intent to get drunk? reply in the comments!


Middlebury Disorientation Guide pt. 3: Mental Health and Sexual Assault, College Finance, Privilege, and Recommended Classes

This is the third and final portion of the “Middlebury Disorientation Guide” that will be published on middbeat.  This portion covers the topics of Mental Health and Sexual Assault resources on Campus  Make sure to also check out Beyond the Green’s coverage of the pamphlet, and continue to comment and reach out to get involved with the campaigns and ideas the authors have put forth.  Again, you can get in touch with the student activists behind the pamphlet at, and find the whole guide here.

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JusTalks 2015 needs YOUR Support!


Middlebury will host its 3rd Annual JusTalks event on January 10th, 2015!

JusTalks is a one-day J-term event for first-years and sophomore Febs dedicated to communication, personal discourse, and self-analysis. We will engage in dialogue related to different aspects of identity including, but not limited to, gender, race, class, age, disability, and sexual identity. There is a pressing need for these discussions, but there are few spaces on campus in which to carry them out. JusTalks aims to provide a safe space for students to grapple with these issues. Created and organized by students, it is a chance for all first-years in their first J-Term to think about their own identities and the identities of the 2,500 other Middlebury students we walk past every day.

Think this is something the Campus needs? Get involved!

We are looking for first-year and sophomore-feb to participate and sophomore/junior/senior (fens included) as facilitators. Visit our website (go/justalks) for a complete description of ways you can help out!

Middlebury Disorientation Guide Pt. 2: Current Student Activism, Advice for Saving Money on Campus, and LGBTQ Community

This is a continuation of yesterday’s feature on a pamphlet created by Middlebury student activists called the Middlebury Disorientation Guide. Today’s post features an introduction to some of the most vibrant pieces of current student activism on campus, as well as advice for saving money, and avenues of expression and support for the LGBTQ community.  See after the jump for the second portion, and find the full guide here.

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Middlebury Disorientation Guide: Introduction and a People’s History of Middlebury College

Adjusting to Middlebury can be tough.  Hordes of new faces, an unceasing schedule, getting used to dorm life, going to your first round of parties, making friends, finding the student groups you want to join; the first couple weeks of college are universally as stressful as they are exciting.  While the transition is difficult for all, it can be particularly difficult for those coming from backgrounds different from the elite setting Middlebury presents.  If you’re one who feels this way, that your discomfort and difficulty transitioning to the college goes beyond the superficial mania of newness, and instead extends into your class, racial, cultural background, gender, or sexual orientation, a group of student activists on campus has compiled a polemic “Disorientation Guide” aimed to contextualize these structural inequalities many students face at Middlebury and offer support.  The authors write:

This guide is a working­ document written by a fluid collective of students committed to organizing, educating, learning, and building a transformative community. As students from diverse backgrounds and experiences, we critically examine Middlebury College as an institution and seek to honor it as a community of students, faculty, and staff with a long history of resistance to injustice. We’ve been part of many efforts to change this private college, which does not fit into our ideal of free education available to all. Some of our efforts have been through institutional channels, and others have not. We feel that no matter what methods people choose,it is important to know what has been done before and what is possible when we are organized. We think we can transform this place, or at least throw a wrench in the charge towards corporatization and white fantasy-hetero-sexist-­bleakification. This guide is a small effort to ask you to join us, or join with someone else, get creative, don’t wear salmon colored shorts, and if you feel like you have to sell your soul, don’t sell it to the wrong people.  If you want to get in touch, contact disorientmiddATgmailDOTcom.

You can find the rest of the guide after the jump.  Feel free to comment and discuss below, and get in touch with the authors at disorientmiddATgmailDOTcom.

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Just When You Thought Social Life Surveillance Couldn’t Get Any Higher: Alcohol Now Banned at Middlebury Tailgates

Few activities signify fall more than a good tailgate.  Bundled up, grilling, kicking it with friends and family, talking about the game (or not), and cracking a beer (or two) is one of the most familiar and enjoyable activities of the season. While we at Midd can continue to enjoy the first four of that set, the fifth has been eliminated by a new Public Safety Policy banning alcoholic beverages at tailgates, the latest in the increasingly strict regulation of campus party life.

And, to make matters worse, it’s not just alcohol that’s been banned. Brace yourselves: even music is no longer allowed. Laughing? You’re not alone. While many valid arguments can be made for and against alcohol consumption, banning music, arguably the least harmful social lubricant, is humorous. Innocent Tswamuno’s ‘15 response boldly resounds most students’ opinions on this matter: “With no music, what’s the point of tailgating at all? You’re sucking the love out of it all. Just let us have fun.”

While we will work to be objective in our discussion of this new policy, We can’t help but think “What. The. Fuck?”  Why take alcohol and music out of the equation for students over 21 at an age old tradition that takes place in broad daylight with readily accessible food right before attending a game at which alcohol is prohibited?

It’s unlikely we’ll receive an answer regarding these newly implemented alcohol and music bans straight from the horse’s mouth, but we can at least pick apart why this policy is a little, well, over the top. We’ll gauge student reactions in hopes of stirring discussion yet again about the increasingly omnipresent administrative surveillance of student social life at Middlebury College.

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Middlebrow Improv Comedy, Tonight


Middlebrow FALL 2014 #1

Middlebrow Improv Comedy will be having their first performance of the semester, tonight at 10:30 in the Chateau Grand Salon.  The group features six returning members who will be performing long form improvisational comedy.  What does that mean?  Alexander Khan ’16 tells us, “We make up comedic scenes on the spot.  Essentially, its compulsive lying mixed with Saturday Night Live. Like old Saturday Night Live, before it became all skits about expensive family vacations, perceived infantile insults, and selfie books.”  When asked if he was perhaps mistaking SNL with E!’s Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Khan repsonded, “Look, I think its great that they have more female cast members now, and those ladies are hilarious, especially the one who used to be the Olympic runner.  I’m just saying, a little variety goes a long way.”

No frozen yogurt will be served at this event.

Where: Chateau GS
When: 10:30 PM
Cost: none.