In defense of a good FYC

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To Whom It May Concern,

As freshmen, our FYCs were negligent, unsupportive, absent, and even disruptive, often more so than other freshmen on the hall. Our halls had little to boast of in terms of community. However, our FYCs never technically committed any punishable offense, as Barrett did. Instead, they quietly failed to offer the support which is a central–even the central–part of their job description. As freshmen, we didn’t know how severely underperforming our FYCs were; it is only in retrospect, and in observing the environment on halls like Barrett’s, that we realized what a vast effect an invested and available FYC can make on the freshman experience. Even as upperclassmen, we are envious of the members of Stew 4, who get the privilege of living in a place with an open door and a listening ear a stone’s throw away.

It is understandable that the College would like to believe that all of its FYCs are as exceptional as Barrett, but this is simply not the case. Were that true, or if Barrett had been a lackluster FYC up to this point, then perhaps they could justify firing him based on this one-time transgression. However, there are numerous FYCs around this campus whose cumulative lapses in judgment–or, even worse, failure to make any judgments at all–are much more damaging to their freshmen than Barrett’s single offense. The message that the College is effectively sending, to both its freshmen and to current and potential members of its Res Life staff, is that it is much preferable to be quietly inactive than to take the risk of being generous, outgoing, and kind. That kind of stifling environment is not what this college is about. We were promised a place where risk-taking is encouraged and just interaction between faculty, staff and students is guaranteed. Are Res Life members expected to adhere to a stricter code of conduct than the lay-student? Of course. We feel, however, that Barrett has so exceeded that code up to this point that he is owed some benefit of the doubt in this little scandal, which has been blown wildly out of proportion. Does Barrett’s poor decision merit some disciplinary action? Yes, probably, but the crime here is simply not deserving of the time. If, instead of being fired, Barrett were put under probation, we are sure that the only result of the observation will be newfound respect for the incredible dedication and respect he has for his hall and his position as an FYC. He is one of the good ones, and they aren’t all good.

Respectfully,

April Dodd and Amanda Reis ’13

4 Responses to In defense of a good FYC

  1. Anonymous says:

    I don’t think its about race or class; rather, it’s about the fact that this guest peed in a cup in front of a bunch of girls. Lots of people have guests for extended periods of time and its not a big deal, but he peed in a cup publicly and thats just inappropriate, even for a Middlebury student. It is disrespectful to the school and the community, and especially to those who witnessed it. I don’t think Barrett should have been fired, or that Lois should have been treated as harshly as he was, or at all for that matter. However, some sort of action needs to be taken when people from the Middlebury community express concern. This just wasn’t the right action-especially Barrett being fired; that is ridiculous on the part of the administration.

    But let’s not turn this individual and this occurrence into a case study for race and class issues. I believe that in an attempt to combat these omnipresent issues, they are often over-emphasized; a continuation of the same race/class discourse only further serves it’s divisive nature.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank you so much, April and Amanda, for articulating this so well and thoughtfully– I completely agree with you. Barrett’s genuine kindness is indiscriminate, and his open warmth and energy have been felt on all 5 floors of Stewart. As a Freshman this year, I have been so grateful for his presence as an FYC– my own is often absent and unavailable. Barrett’s door, however, is always open, and the community he and Nial have fostered on Stew 4 is truly enviable.

    I agree that Barrett’s choices involving Louis merit some sort of response, but I know that firing him would harm the Stew community far more than hosting Louis ever did.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Agreed. Absolutely agreed. I am a first year student this year with one of the more incompetent FYCs I’ve heard of. Not only do I rarely see her, but when I do she completely avoids making eye-contact with me. My roommate and other girls in my hall have reported similar experiences. My FYC, the person who is supposed to make me feel welcome at this school, is in fact the person I feel most uncomfortable around. This is why Barrett’s firing is so baffling to me. As someone with such an inadequate FYC, I can say that I am quite jealous of the guys on Stew 4 and of how much Barrett does for them.

    Clearly Barrett made a poor choice and some disciplinary action should be taken. No one is contesting that. However, firing him goes too far. Barrett is great at his job as evidenced by the wave of support coming not only from the guys on Stew 4, but from everyone else living in Stew. At the very least, if his behavior is being scrutinized by the administration, let the other FYCs face that same scrutiny. If the administration really has its students’ best interests at heart, Barrett, who is on the whole an amazing FYC, would stay and mine would be let go.

  4. Brittany Gendron '12 says:

    April and Amanda,

    Thank you for elucidating exactly what I wanted to say regarding this situation, but could not seem to find the words to express.

    As a multiple year FYC, I especially understand, appreciate, and obviously agree that the foremost role of Res Life & the college is to protect the safety and well being of all its students and the larger college community. While I do not know the specifics of this incident, from an outsider’s perspective it seems to be as though Barrett, even with a perhaps temporary lapse in judgement in letting this friend of his stay with him, is too important an asset to lose.

    Having worked with him throughout First Year Orientation, I can assuredly say, his dedication to his position is absolutely inspiring, and everything the college ‘thinks’ all its FYCS do. It’s very easy to place physical bodies in the role of an FYC, and very hard to find FYCs whose heart, warmth, and mere being will help First Years flourish here at Middlebury. Barrett, as my small observations, and the strength of these blogposts show, is one of those people.

    From one FYC to another, Barrett, I hope you know regardless of the end outcome, you are so incredibly valued by the Middlebury College Community, your friends, and your first years. You are a gem, and I hope despite whatever transgression this incident showed, and whatever harm it may have caused, the college can find another way of coming to a solution and disciplinary action (such as the suggested probation) that does not impart further harm into the community — which your firing clearly would.

    I know the dedication and heart it takes to be an FYC if you truly take it seriously, as Barrett clearly does — and I just want to tip my hat to you, Barrett, for everything that you’ve done and I know, regardless of the outcome, you’ll continue to do.

    With love,
    Brittany Gendron ’12
    Ross FYC ’09-’10, ’10-’11.

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