Category Archives: Feature

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.


As many of you avid Middbeaters know, locally-grown and organically cultivated folk rockers Alpenglow are returning to the great state of Vermont for their one of a kind Chapel Tour in celebration of their newest release “Chapel EP.”

To add further to the excitement, Higher Ground is providing Middbeat with one pair of FREE TICKETS to the show in Burlington at the First Unitarian Church on Sunday, October 19th.

Check it out!

It’s really easy to enter. Here’s what you gotta do:

Step 1: Post this link on your Facebook Profile

Step 2: Tag Higher Ground

Step 3: Send a screen shot of your post to

Step 4: Cross your fingers and hope you win!

The contest will end Thursday, October 9th at midnight! So get on it!

*P.S. Make sure you check out Alpenglow’s supporting act Joseph. They are an amazing trio of sisters from Portland, OR and they are blowing up!

52 Thoughts You’ve Had When Eating Proctor Dinner

We can all agree that Proctor dinner can be a stressful experience. Even if you can whip up a homemade salad dressing in seconds or assemble an award-winning panini in a flash, you’re likely victim to the occasional awkward moment or food fumble. We understand your troubles, hence our decision to articulate the thoughts plaguing our minds as we get our essential, albeit sometimes bland, nutrients. For solidarity, humor, or self-pity, here’s 52 thoughts we’ve all had when eating Proctor dinner:

1. Oh god why is the line so long… Go to Ross people!
2. But seriously, where the F are the proctor bowls
3. This is not okay. I need my split pea soup


4. Mmmm is that chicken parm?
5. I worked out.. I definitely need two pieces…or three…
6. Do I look like a fatty with a plate full of chicken parm?
7. Ahh yes.. I’ll balance it out with a salad
8. I love salad!
9. NOT
10. Does anyone eat the weird dishes at the end of the salad bar?
11. Maybe I’ll try this raw fish rice… hmmmm
12. I’m SO glad we have a whole tub of ham. I’m hate when salad bars forget that essential ingredient.

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A Case of the Mondays: music to start your week off right

Considering the number of vests I’ve seen on campus the past couple days, I would say that fall is officially here.
Add in the amount of leaf peeping traffic there was this weekend (full disclosure, I hit the gap myself), there’s no question.

And what’s better paired with fall than some new music?!
I caught up with Nick Mallchok ’14.5, former MCAB Concert Committee chair, and the mastermind behind bringing acts such as Matt and Kim to campus. In a prior conversation, Nick told me that he hopes to continue working in the music industry post-college, ideally with a music festival or something similar to the work he has done at Midd, booking acts. 

Thus when I asked him to come up with a mini-playlist, I was excited. Playlist after the break.  Continue reading

Student Group Profile: Fencing Club


In front, John Corbett ’15 (left) and Allison Forrest ’15 (right) practice their sabre moves.

If you’ve ever walked by Lower Proctor on Tuesday or Thursday nights, you might have noticed a group of people decked out in masks and jackets, swinging swords and scoring touches. That would be the Middlebury College Fencing Club, a recreational three-weapon team that meets twice a week and welcomes everyone, whether former fencers or newbies. Middbeat talked to team Captain Allison Forrest ’15 to get the scoop:

middbeat: So for those of us who are completely ignorant, what is Fencing Club?
Allison Forrest ’15: We’re a recreational club sport, and we have fencers of all levels. Many people have fenced before coming, in high school, but some of us only picked it up [here at Midd] and have stuck with it. We practice twice a week, and we usually begin practice by warming up, and if there are new people, teaching them the basics. When we have people who already know how to fence, we spend time just doing really fun bouts and teaching each other new moves and talking about things we’ve learned in our past that we’ve seen at other competitions we’ve been to.

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One Small Step… Party Assistants for Hire


Social life surveillance has been a hot topic preoccupying many minds over the last couple weeks, middbeat’s included. The student body’s principle complaint has been the shady ways in which the administration goes about making these decisions, without any apparent student input.  Alas, there seems to be some progress on that front, heralded in by the recent announcement of a newParty Assistant position for students.

Anyone who has been to a party in Palmer or its ilk knows that Pub Safe usually rolls through halfway through the party, monitoring adherence to things like fire codes and party procedures, and, more often than not, they were forced to shut parties down due to noncompliance. A conversation began last year about how students could work with Public Safety and the administration to maintain a safe party atmosphere while keeping these parties going.  The administration paid attention to this discussion, and this year, a solution has been announced: Party Assistants.

An email slipped through the cracks a while ago, announcing that the “Party Assistant position is posted for hiring”. These party assistants are students who are paid to work with party and event hosts in Social Houses.  They receive training (different than Crown Manager training) that “will allow them to help hosts stay in compliance with fire codes and party procedures, identify potentially risky situations, effectively request help, support event attendees who have questions or require assistance, and most importantly support party host in hosting safe and enjoyable events.” Being a party assistant entails, among other things, providing the food and non-alcoholic drinks that party procedure requires, arriving before the event to speak with the hosts and do an initial walk-through, and staying through the event and its wrap-up and providing feedback.

The presence of these Party Assistants means that Pub Safe will no longer have to walk through mid-event; instead, the party host and the assistant will meet them at the door for a quick consultation.  This will most definitely be a welcome change for party-goers and Pub Safe alike.

While we should definitely continue the discussion about social life restrictions that has been recently set afire by the new tailgate restrictions, it is important to acknowledge when positive steps are taken.  Students expressed dissatisfaction about the status quo and the administration was willing to work with us in finding new solutions.  Let’s prove that this was the right move and make this step successful: Party Assistant positions are posted on the SEO website and hires will take place on a rolling basis.  Anyone willing to spend a couple nights a year benefitting the greater good, get involved.  Party-goers will thank you.

Voices From Abroad: Jordan Seman ’16, Argentina

Jordan looking lovely with some incredible BsAs street art

Jordan looking lovely with some incredible BsAs street art

This week, middbeat’s “Voices From Abroad“ will feature Jordan Seman ’16, who is studying in Buenos Aires, Argentina this semester, living just blocks away from the National Congress. Jordan is a junior comparative literature major from Denver, CO. As part of the Middlebury School Abroad in Buenos Aires, Jordan is studying at Universidad Católica Argentina, taking classes in the psychology department for a change of pace. Jordan’s writing is extracted from her personal blog, and skillfully captures the complexities of life abroad, while offering some invaluable insights on how to deal with the transition. Having spent a semester in Buenos Aires myself, I’m particularly stoked to share this post. Read up:

Today, I met my dear friend Bryn’s father, Jim, for a cup of coffee during his brief stay in Buenos Aires. I can only describe seeing him as extremely comforting, if a little strange. The sensation was almost dream-like; one second I was on the bustling streets of the city, sweating from running the last four blocks from the bus stop, late (as usual), and impatient for the traffic to subside so I could finally cross the street…the next, I was in a luxurious lounge sipping a latte, sitting across from an old friend straight from my life in Denver. I immediately felt relief as we began to converse (in ALL English) about my experience the past two months. As I answered his questions (How are your classes? What’s the social scene like? Do you feel safe here? Do you like the food?), I realized that it was the first time that I had really decompressed the whirlwind of experiences in the past two months.

Talking to Jim helped me uncover some of the feelings that I’ve internalized while going through the daily motions of public transportation, confusion in class, endless misunderstandings in Spanish, and other cultural differences. Talking to him also left me with a choice: I could either sugarcoat everything, tell him how amazing Buenos Aires is and how happy I am every day to be here and be having this experience (which is all true, to an extent), or I could give him the true-to-life story, the one where I say how some days are really great, while others leave me with a pounding headache and a deep, aching desire for the simplicity of rural Vermont.

I chose the latter. Here are some of the impressions I gave him, with the 2-month perspective:

1) Taking classes in Spanish is not easy. Not only was I completely disillusioned about my ability to converse near-fluently with Argentines, but I also assumed that 8 weeks in the classroom would be enough to get the hang of my professors and the subject material. Not exactly true. The classes I am in (Sociology, Special Education, and Public Health) require a decent amount of theoretical background knowledge, which is difficult to understand in English, let alone Castellano. As such, I’m still learning. Some days I leave class feeling confident that I understood about 95% of the lecture; other days, I leave with a page full of vocabulary words to look up on my own, feeling disheartened and silly. All part of the process, I’m told.


2) My Spanish has most definitely improved. It’s no longer so much of an effort to listen and understand. I am not translating everything in my head anymore. The verb tenses come a little more fluidly, my vocabulary is a little more advanced, I can mostly understand what I’m ordering every time I go to restaurant. Small milestones that prove the cultural immersion really does work.

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