Ever since Commencement I’ve been meaning to close out the year with some comments about the past eight months at Middlebury and some thoughts about what’s in store for next year. Rather than repeat what I’ve already covered in other posts, I will try to distill these thoughts into an agenda that we are likely to pursue next year.
- Alcohol: This is a perennial topic on college campuses, and President Liebowitz gave it special attention in his baccalaureate speech at Commencement. The critical issue here is not whether students should or shouldn’t drink, but how we as a community address the irresponsible behavior that frequently comes with extreme drinking, and reaching agreement on the role of each individual in setting the standards of behavior for our community. This subject needs to move off the blogs (mine included) and become a topic of discussion on campus.
- Self-governance and collective responsibility: I’ve been a broken record on this matter, but the subject encompasses so many of the challenges that arise on our campus that it is hard not to return to it. As one of my colleagues put it, we need to think “creatively and deliberatively about what friendship and loyalty and mutual responsibility mean in the context of a residential college. Only in those broader conversations (about community) will we be able to address alcohol issues (along with sexual assault, homophobia, and other campus problems).” Look for these themes to guide campus discussions, beginning next fall.
- Social life and creativity: The two concepts are connected, or they should be, especially as we continue to develop additional venues in downtown Middlebury for student social life and artistic expression. By the end of the summer, Middlebury students will get an email about how they can get involved (and why they should care) about three interrelated projects: 51 Main, the Mill, and the Town Hall Theater.
- 4/2 Commons: The top item on next year’s to-do list is probably the development of a sophomore year program in the Commons. But as the Commons sifts into quasi separate realms for first years and sophomores on the one hand, and juniors and seniors on the other, we will need to sort out the implications of these changes for Commons councils.
As the date on this post suggests, I will be blogging less frequently during the next couple months but plan to return to weekly reports once the academic year begins. In the meantime, I wish everyone a relaxing and productive summer.