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Beat the Peak and help us lower campus-wide electricity usage!

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

This summer the Office of Sustainability Integration is launching an effort to avoid “peak demand”, which occurs when our campus’ electrical use exceeds our highest previous use for the past 12 months.  This occurs on the hottest days of the summer when air conditioners, fans, cooling equipment, etc. are in use. Exceeding our peak raises our electricity rates for the entire year, forces the utility company to buy more power from dirtier sources and could result in brown- or black-outs.

We will be monitoring the risk of exceeding our limit each day and posting this sign around campus:

Poster 1-01On days when we are in the red zone, we ask that everyone on campus makes an effort to conserve energy by pulling down the blinds in their rooms, turning off the AC when leaving, turning off appliances and unplugging chargers when not in use.

You can also visit go/beatthepeak for more information.

Thanks for helping out!

Walking Tour of Campus Art, Friday, July 24, 10 a.m.

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

July 24, Friday

Walking Tour of Middlebury’s Public Art Collection

10:00 AM, Meet at the Museum of Art

This public, outdoor tour features highlights of the collection including recent installations from alumni Sabra Field ’57 and J. Pindyck Miller ’60. Meet in the lobby of the Mahaney Center for the Arts, just outside the main entrance to the Middlebury College Museum of Art. All are welcome to join and see how Middlebury’s collection of public art is growing and evolving. Led by summer interns Danielle Weindling ’17 and Andrew Smith ’17.  Duration:  approximately one hour, rain or shine. Free

Self-Defense Workshop this Friday

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3/13, 9:45 am-12:00 pm, Mitchell Green Lounge: Tanya Panizzo on Building Self Defense & Finding Your Voice

Tanya Panizzo, a world-renowned self-defense instructor, will conduct a workshop for female-identified students, faculty and staff. Tanya’s workshop focuses on empowerment and confidence building exercises to teach women how to effectively combat aggression, both verbally (i.e assertively saying no) and physically. Space is limited: RSVP to epedowitz@middlebury.edu
Learn more:


This project was supported by Grant No. 2010-WA-AX-0010 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions and recommendations expressed in this publication/program are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.

The Reign of Monogamy

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Durkheim and the reign of monogamy

I started practicing polyamory[1] three years ago in an attempt to free myself of the unbearable attachment, dependency and conditionality that came with monogamous relationships. Needy, shattered and incapable to fulfill my deep need for love and intimacy with others, I longed for change. I first heard about the tempting concept of “love without attachment” at a meditation retreat in Thailand. Soon after starting to open myself to the possibility that relationships may be built on mutual respect, love and appreciation instead of fear of losing the other, desire to dominate or fit social expectations, I was ready to embrace polyamory. The freedom and happiness it brought me inspired me to celebrate it, share it, spread it. I knew it was meant to be challenging, because of the normalcy associated with monogamy in society, yet I thought the status-quo was reversible and people only needed to learn about polyamory to at least give it a try, if not adopt it.

It didn’t take long to figure I was wrong. While I remain optimistic for the sake of not losing my energy as an agent of change in society, I now see the invisible strings that control it. “The practice of having a single sexual partner during a period of time”[2], or otherwise monogamy, fits Emile Durkheim’s concept for a social fact, introduced in The Rules of Sociological Method. Social facts are ways of thinking, acting or being which are normalized, generalized throughout society, constraining and external to the individuals who perform them.

One doesn’t need statistics to establish that monogamy reigns over Western Societies and is deemed “normal” and “normative”. Monogamous couples caress each other with lips, touch and public acknowledgement practically everywhere. Yet, expressions of intimacy between their “deviant” counterparts are not to be found in the daylight, out in the open. Non-monogamy is only allowed to exist in secret locations, particular subcultures and specialized online communities.

My personal experience with polyamory showed me that the influence of the social act lies in that “it asserts itself as soon as I try to resist” (Durkheim, 51). As long as I complied with monogamy, I was oblivious to its great coercive power. Once I dared to reject it and self- identify as polyamorous, I found I now had to deal with a number of negative stereotypes (polyamorists are “sluts” being one of them) and consequences (such as sexualization, shaming or being emotionally abused by partners because of my choice). Choosing to comply with the rules of monogamy seemed to be the only way to restore the violated social order and to bring myself and others peace. It seemed more like an ultimatum.

11004518_972925636058611_161370367_n My friends often tell me: “I get it, but I know I can’t (do polyamory)”. Monogamy, I am told, feels “innate”, it is our “nature” and therefore inalterable. But is it? Durkheim says that: “we are the victims of an illusion which leads us to believe we have ourselves produced what has been imposed on us externally” (Durkheim, 53). Children’s fairytale books, Hollywood movies, popular songs all project the images of idealized monogamous romance as the only way to experience love and happiness with another. As if nothing else exists. “All education consists of a continual effort to impose upon the child ways of seeing, thinking and acting which he himself would not have arrived at spontaneously” (Durkheim, 53)- Durkhaim claims, yet, how can the grown child perceive something as external to herself if it’s all she has seen and no alternatives have ever been presented?

Monogamy, as a social fact, perpetuates itself through a number of cultural tools, indoctrinates individuals and transforms them into blind followers who reproduce the very same devices which have been used to inculcate them. Furthermore, if monogamy was “natural to” and “inborn in” individuals than all human societies would be monogamous. According to George Murdock’s Ethnographic Atlas, however, globally: “of 1,231 societies noted, 186 were monogamous; 453 had occasional polygyny; 588 had more frequent polygyny; and 4 had polyandry”.

Coming to Middlebury, I expected an environment that was more receptive to polyamory due to its increased media coverage in the US, as well as the relative “abundance” of individuals and communities practicing polyamory compared to other places in the world. However, I was surprised to find that not only wasn’t this a “hippy school”, but even the largely popular “hook up culture” on campus served as a perpetuator of mono-normativity. Both hooking up and having multiple romantic and sexual partners are seen as profane alternatives to the sacred long-term, committed monogamous relationship. Yet, only the former is perceived as a legitimate substitute.

Hooking up allows busy, career-oriented, fun-loving students to “have a good time” without the commitments and effort involved in sustaining a committed relationship. An important aspect in being successful at hook ups is to make sure the person knows you are not actually having a relationship with them (also helping you to maintain position in the power game and remain desired). You don’t need to answer their every text. You don’t even have to be that nice to them. They are not your partner after all. Vulnerability and being real with each other are treasured as a domain held exclusively by one-on-one relationships. The hook up happy ending, thus, mirrors monogamy in that it requires the rejecting of others by choosing a preferred partner and coupling of.

512d9d9c8b780.image                 Social facts are hard to shake. Neither a single person, nor a small group of people can negate the overwhelming presence of social facts with their choice and actions. Whether or not I decide to be polyamorous instead of monogamous is irrelevant with regards to overcoming the stifling rule of the ideology of monogamy. Ironically, even when we reject the social fact, it influences us beyond our imagination. By allowing hooking up as a temporary alternative to monogamy, yet rejecting polyamorous relationships in which people build committed relationships with multiple partners, a paradoxical situation is created in which it is so hard to find a sole person to be with that monogamy is embraced again by lack of any other alternative. Practicing polyamory necessitates the presence of a diverse community of independent, mature individuals who value and seek relationships (whether monogamous or not). Within that arrangement one can hope and expect to meet and connect with a manifold of potential romantic and sexual partners with varying preferences for relationship styles. Yet, at places like Middlebury where relationships are feared, viewed as a hindrance to personal progress or otherwise rejected, if one “hits the jackpot” and finds someone willing to be with them, they would hardly risk the relationship by suggesting alternatives to the assumed monogamy.

[1] Defined as “the state or practice of having more than one open romantic relationship at a time”, Marriam Webster Online Dictionary

[2] As defined in Collins English Dictionary


Academic Roundtable, March 10, 2015 – Managing Technology in the Classroom

Categories: Midd Blogosphere
The Academic Roundtable meets on Tuesdays in the lounge of the CTLR from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m.
As the number and type of devices students bring to class has proliferated, faculty have had to wrestle with how to manage this new reality of students showing up with phones, tablets, and laptops. In addition, students are impacted by their fellow students. In this session, we’ll hear from faculty who are wrestling with this challenge, as well as from students whose views represent a range of positions.

Faculty discussing their classroom technology policies and practices will include:
Alison Stanger, Political Science
Helen Young, Biology
Student panelists include:
Phil Bohlman ’17
Cate Costley ’15
David Ollin Pesqueira ’17
William Weightman ’17
You may wish to read Clay Shirky’s ” Why I Just Asked My Students To Put Their Laptops Away” at

Call for Midd. Student visual artist nominations!

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

The Friends of the Middlebury College Museum of Art invite you to nominate a Middlebury College student whose contribution to the visual arts in the community merits distinction. The Friends have made an annual award to a college student for nearly two decades, and recipients have included sculptors, filmmakers, painters, critics for The Campus, Museum volunteers, and founders of the M Gallery. Anyone [barring a relative of the nominee] can make a nomination.

The nomination form is available and can be submitted online – before the Friday, April 3 deadline — at http://museum.middlebury.edu/news/awards/middlebury_college_student_arts_award_nomination_form

The award will be presented on Sunday, May 3, at Kirk Alumni House, at the Friends’ Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner. The recipient and nominee will be guests of the Museum.

Please address any questions to mlane@middlebury.edu.



Winter Carnival Films from the 1940s “Premiered”

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Fun in the snow at Middlebury College!  These recently digitized 16mm films haven’t been seen in more than fifty years.

This silent film montage shows scenes of the 40 meter jump on Chipman Hill, early ski trails at the Snow Bowl and the “new” 50 meter ski jump, Mountain Club outings to the winter woods, and even “aero-skijoring” on Lake Champlain.  Winter Carnival the way it was in the middle of the last century!

And this newsreel produced by Paramount Pictures in 1949 is an entertaining glimpse back into a unique moment in time.  It was shown in movie theaters throughout the country before the feature film.