My Letter of Complaint to Dean Chang and others
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing today to express my extreme disappointment in the decision to fire Barrett Smith from his position as First Year Counselor. I believe that the punishment of removing him from his position as FYC is unjust for the action (or inaction) taken in this situation and will no doubt have consequences far beyond those that began this whole process.
Barrett Smith is a close personal friend of mine. Because of this, I have spent a significant amount of time on his hall these past several months. I have watched as Barrett has counseled these 40 boys and led them through what can be an extremely challenging and tumultuous time in their lives. He has consistently been a positive presence in these boy’s lives providing unending counsel, support, and friendship over this semester.
In my time knowing him, Barrett has also been one of the most generous people I have ever met. Several weeks ago, I was walking across campus with Barrett and of the people who passed us along the way, Barrett smiled and greeted nearly three-fourths of them by name. Middlebury is a small campus, but it isn’t that small. His openness to friendships and new experiences is evident in nearly everything he does. Barrett does not shy away from reaching out to members of the community who may not be similar or have the same ideas as him. And these are the qualities that make a good FYC- openness, willingness to accept others, and generosity.
Unfortunately, they are also the qualities that led him into the situation for which he was ultimately fired. I will acknowledge that an error in judgment was made and I am in no way attempting to discredit the claims made against him. Generosity and openness are in no way alibis for the mistake that was made. However, Barrett has always had the interests of his boys at heart and would never have allowed someone who he believed to be a threat into the safe space. Additionally, I feel it is worthwhile to note that throughout the guest’s time here, I, along with many other members of the college community and residential life had the opportunity to meet and speak with him, and not one of us noted or raised a concern about the potential danger or threat of this newcomer.
Member of the residential life team at Middlebury can vary in their degrees of commitment, enthusiasm, and time and energy put into the job. In his time as an FYC, Barrett has gone above and beyond the expectations of his job, and, from an entirely subjective point of view, is one of the most committed and enthusiastic FYCs Middlebury has ever had. Removing him from this position is not only an unjust punishment, but will have consequences that extend long after he leaves Stewert.
If our concern in this experience is to protect the safe space of the freshmen hall, to ensure that stability and comfort is something these freshmen are never without, then removing Barrett from his position is entirely hypocritical.
I certainly hope whoever reads this takes these comments, along with the many others that will undoubtably follow it, into consideration as they consider the choice they have made.
Olivia Noble, ‘13
Lead Editor of Middblog