September 11th incident – Staff Council statement

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The Middlebury College Staff Council recently sent this email to all Middlebury College staff:

Members of the staff of Middlebury College,

The Middlebury College Staff Council strongly rejects disrespectful behavior in any circumstances. The recent disruption of a solemn memorial display by very few people in no way represents the welcoming social and physical environment of the Middlebury College campus that staff members work hard to help provide. We support President Liebowitz when he said, “the disrespectful methods of the protesters overshadowed anything that might have been learned from the convictions they claimed to promote.” We further support the administration’s disciplinary investigation.

To foster more open dialog on this important matter, we have posted this statement on our blog and welcome your comments there.

Staff Council

We would like to hear what you think! Please comment here or email us at

7 Responses to September 11th incident – Staff Council statement

  1. John Giordano says:

    I am disappointed that a “quick and appropriate condemnation of the actions taken by the protesters at Middlebury” was the best response the Administration could muster. Free speech applies to every American and the right to express your self is vital to a free and democratic country. However these acts were not “expression of free speech” by as was noted above a pure act of vandalism. that crossed the line and infringed on the free speech of those who erected the 9/11 Memorial. A proper response should be arrest or at a minimum expulsion. How quickly some forget that the 9/11 tragedy changed America and our culture forever at the expense of the 3000 lives lost that day and those lives lost on the war in terror.

  2. Joseph Miller says:

    I suggest that Ms. Shireman-Grabowski be expelled from the college and not allowed to graduate. I read about the vandalism with disgust which was only heightened when I read Shireman-Grabowski and Licker’s public statements. The vandalism is not protected speech, they stole private property and that is a crime. Offensiveness itself is not criminal, but the shameful display of ignorance and hatred should inform the punishment for the criminals. Licker hates America and considers Americans her enemy, a sentiment surely present among those who murdered Americans on 9/11. She is clear about this in her public statement which refers to the USA as the “occupying colonial state”. Shireman-Grabowski has stated clearly that she vandalized the 9/11 memorial as an act of “solidarity” with Lickers. It is unimaginable that Shireman-Graboski, currently a senior at Middlebury College, represents the personal development which your institution recognizes with a degree. Both women demonstrated a malicious disregard for the law and their community. Given the opportunity to apologize, they have addressed the public without remorse, expressing disdain for their country.

    I am sure you are aware of the public statements I refer to, but will link to them here for any third party reading.

  3. Another MC staff member says:

    I think this comment on Huffington Post from a Midd alum who is actually of Native American descent speaks volumes:

  4. Middlebury College staff member says:

    The American flag does not belong in a trash bag!
    My son is a soldier in the United States Army. Behavior unbecoming of an American citizen is not what he is fighting for!

  5. Sheldon Sloan says:

    As a grandfather of a young man attending Middlebury, I read the reports of the events with interest. President Leibowitz was timely in his denunciation of the actions of the “protesters”. The correct word for them is “vandals”.

    As such, vandalism cannot be condoned in any expression. The students of Middlebury involved should be dismissed and not allowed to return.

    All should be proecuted by the local authorites under vandalism codes and receive appropriate sentences. Failure to do so will simply result in more of the same. The “boken window” theory is real; ignore it at your peril.


    Judge Sheldon Sloan (ret.)
    Past President State Bar of California

  6. A proud student parent says:

    I have to say how disappointed, shocked and appalled I was to hear about the desecration of the Sept. 11th Memorial at Middlebury College perpetrated by a fellow student and others. The shame felt and what it has brought to the College must be overwhelming to say the least.

    I did read President Liebowitz’s statement that was posted on Middlebury’s website and I’m please to learn that the College has begun a disciplinary investigation of the incident. My fear is that either the President or those that will reach a conclusion will give the student a slap on the wrist as either the President or the investigative body will lean towards her right for free speech and academic freedom. That would be more humiliating than the crime itself. Her actions deserve a much stricter punishment.
    I learned of the incident later that day when a friend of mine called to tell me what had transpired. His exact quotes were; “what the hell are they teaching your daughter up there?” “That is one of the most disgraceful acts of vandalism ever displayed.” “Has liberalism gone that far beyond the pale at elite colleges in which despicable behavior like that is tolerated?” Why didn’t the school do anything to stop it?” I asked myself that very question. Unfortunately, his reaction is what many Americans are thinking about your school right now. How you react to this student’s intolerable behavior will be judged as much as the act itself.
    You would think that she being a senior student at Middlebury would have been taught by now how to think, in which one properly researches the facts before drawing a conclusion….let alone the respect of others viewpoints. More importantly, she committed an act of vandalism and theft. Both criminal offenses….let alone the destruction of a Memorial whose remembrance is sacred to many. I assume that there are members of your community that have lost loved ones due to the horrific events of that day and whose lives will be forever changed. For her offenses, she should be asked to leave the school as the College will not tolerate her criminal behavior, lies and insensitivity.
    What if someone were to burn Mead Chapel down because they felt that was a symbol of God in which they didn’t believe in and that it was offensive to the atheist community of Middlebury whose rights were not being respected, should that person be expelled? What is the difference in behavior between the arsonist and the vandal, both who believe in their cause yet were destructive in their actions? I would say, not much. Does her destruction send a message to the student body that she has set a new bar for bad behavior which doesn’t warrant expulsion?
    We now live in a PC environment that has begun to erode common sense. That individuals are no longer accountable for their actions because they were___________(fill in the blank…. “abused,” “did not have a father,” “afflicted by alcohol,” etc…). Isn’t it about time that common sense becomes vogue again and that certain actions are just not tolerated any longer?
    If she is so concerned about American Imperialism, than why is she getting an education from an American College? Her hypocrisy has no limits. If she is so ashamed of America, perhaps she should stand for her beliefs and go finish her education outside of the US or on one of the Indian Reservations. You should accommodate her feelings by asking her to follow her “principals” and take her learning elsewhere.
    Finally, does Middlebury really want to be known for fostering, educating and shaping the minds of its students in this fashion? Unfortunately, that is the perception that is being bestowed upon your school by her actions. Why would you want a criminal of that belief carry the prestige and honor of being a Middlebury graduate for life. Let another school carry that distinction. She does not represent the honor of her school nor the privilege of a degree from Middlebury for what she has done. And it appears that she is just getting started in her fight for social causes as evidenced by her recent activity. Do you really want Middlebury to be associated with her and her future actions? Do you really believe that your community wants her to represent your College now and in the future?
    Your actions as to what transpires next will be judged perhaps with even more scrutiny than the crime itself. Your decision regarding the discipline you will render will speak volumes specifically about Middlebury, its students, facility and alumni, let alone the perception of higher education in America’s top liberal arts colleges which has taken some dings of late. Here’s hoping that that there is at least one thing that progressive colleges will not tolerate or stand for.

  7. Stanley R.Sloan says:

    As someone with now a ten-year presence at Middlebury (Visiting Scholar at the Rohatyn Center and lecturer in the J-term) who is not a faculty member, I would simply like to congratulate President Liebowitz and the Staff Council for their quick and appropriate condemnation of the actions taken by the protesters at Middlebury. I am always proud to be able to list my association with Middlebury when I publish and appear before non-Middlebury audiences, and this reaction ensures that I will continue to be happy to do so. I hope that this will serve as a teaching moment for any Middlebury students involved both about the College and about respect for the views of others, key to the practice of free speech in our country.

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