This letter was sent to the Senior Leadership Group on June 5, 2020. It had 750 co-signers, spanning classes of 1971 through 2020.
As alumni, we are deeply concerned about the state of Middlebury College. In particular, we worry that possible cuts to salaries, research funds, wages, and healthcare will further deepen the crisis that is facing Middlebury. Though this crisis was spawned by the pandemic, clearly, it was exacerbated by pre-existing financial woes. We support the Middlebury AAUP Chapter, and their call for a fair and equitable budget.
We believe faculty and staff deserve a transparent and democratic decision-making process on Middlebury’s campus. The College must honor the urgency of this unprecedented crisis with an innovative response—by engaging in a collective dialogue with the Middlebury AAUP Chapter. We believe the College risks worsening this crisis for our community by attempting to recapture lost revenues through cutting the compensation of Middlebury employees. We echo the Middlebury AAUP in our suggestion that the College rely on its substantial endowment instead.
The existing faculty representation in budgetary decision-making is limited to advisory committees, without the power for robust governance. For obvious reasons, this current infrastructure seems to us deeply ineffective. We urge the College to bargain in good faith with its employees, and especially to safeguard the livelihoods of the most precarious faculty and staff. This is not just for the good of the College, but also for the local Addison County economy that the College supports.
Any budgetary response that results in increased financial insecurity on the part of faculty and staff ultimately jeopardizes Middlebury’s academic mission. When employees are forced to generate new modes of income out of necessity—through part-time jobs, freelance work, etc.—both workers and students suffer, and Middlebury fails in its responsibility as an employer. Middlebury should use its bountiful resources to protect all employees during this time, particularly its most vulnerable ones.
We believe that staff and faculty at Middlebury need increased worker representation in the budgetary process, and have supported recent demands that all staff are paid a living wage. We wholeheartedly support the faculty and staff now, as in the past. As students, we benefited greatly from our supportive relationships with Middlebury employees—in the classroom, in extracurricular activities, and as employees of the College ourselves. What makes the Middlebury experience impactful is the education, and the people who make that education possible—those who clean the buildings, prepare meals, teach classes, et cetera.
We certainly didn’t come to Middlebury for the size of the endowment. For many of us, our relationships with faculty and staff remain our strongest continued connections to the College. We trust the College will honor its commitments to Middlebury’s mission, and to the staff and faculty who uphold it.