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Category Archive for 'General'

As we go into our last classes and finals, I want to pause and take stock of the things that stood out for me over the year. Here are a few observations:

1. In Vermont, winter without snow is like a barbeque without charcoal. It’s just plain pitiful. The first year I lived here, I learned the hard way what happens when you don’t put snow tires on your car. So this fall, I put them on early! And there they were all winter long: a constant reminder of just how uninspiring it was to have none of that freezing, slushy stuff to contend with. Gazing at my tires one gloomy day, I realized that what I missed most about snow, besides its beauty, was the basic challenge it presents—survive or surrender.

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Fitting In

Dear Readers,

 My guest blogger this week is Stanis Moody-Roberts. Stanis is a CRA in Wonnacott Commons. He shares with us his heartfelt experience of being a student here and the rewards he’s found on the job in residential life, where he’s seen how our community can be a source of strength and purpose. As always, I look forward to hearing your comments about this interesting post.

—Shirley M. Collado

The great thing about being a CRA is that, as staff, we’re involved in quite a number of the issues at the forefront of campus dialogue. We’re also in the unique position of having just been Middlebury students, so we approach our jobs with the perspective our student experience offers. This post is dedicated those Middkids who don’t feel as if they fit in here. And that’s a greater number of us than we might perceive.

As a CRA, I get the chance to talk to a lot of people. Mostly about how their day (or night) went. As in:

 Stanis: “Hi _____!!”
____: “Hi Stanis!!”
(Awkward pause)
Stanis:
“How’s it going?”
____: “Good! How about you?”
Stanis: “Good!”
(Awkward pause)
Stanis:
“How was your day?”
___: “Good! I went to class! Ate lunch at Atwater! Went to the gym! It’s cold as #$%@ out!”

 I love those little conversations. I love talking to people, and I really love smiling awkwardly (some Wonnacott first-years honored me with the link go/crastanis). But every now and then, I get the chance to have a more in-depth conversation about a challenge someone is facing. These conversations mean a lot to me because I, too, struggled at times with fitting in here. I carefully hid those struggles and pretended everything was going great—and I think that only made it worse for me.

I don’t want others to “settle” and go the same route that I did; so, I deeply value the conversations that I have that touch upon a difficulty of life here at Middlebury.

Middlebury is a funny place. There’s a lot of pressure to feel happy here. You should be happy: we’re living in a near-perfect, ideal kind of world (they don’t call it a bubble for nothing). If you can’t thrive here, then are you even capable of thriving? We’ve got some of the best, most intelligent professors out there, who are accessible and care about their students. We have a gorgeous campus, a dining plan that rivals any other college, some incredibly talented peers, opportunities up the wazoo for personal growth and professional development—what do you mean you’re not happy? Sometimes it’s hard to express a feeling of not fitting in without feeling like it might be your fault.

That is, at least, my experience for some of my time here. Freshman year, I shamefully passed in every paper for my seminar at least a couple days late (my final paper Christmas Eve). I couldn’t for the life of me understand, of all classes, Intro to Microeconomics. My parents were in the midst of a nasty divorce, and that made me feel even worse. I felt I had to lie: To my friends, I was with my girlfriend all the time. To my girlfriend, I was with my friends all the time. I was really holed up in the upstairs lab of Sunderland, discouraged and down about myself, and even less able to learn or write because of it. In hindsight, I see now that I had wonderful people who cared about me, and who I would grow really to love, but in my mental state, I felt no great connections to anyone.  It’s amazing how alone you can sometimes feel, surrounded by hundreds of others in the dark, booming basement of a social house on a Saturday night.

It wasn’t until my senior year, after a semester off and a semester abroad, that things started to really click for me. I found a major I was fascinated with and could do well in. I started opening myself up and feeling stronger connections to those around me. I began to really appreciate my time at Middlebury. I began to feel like I really fit in with many of the wonderful people here. I wish I had worked to figure that all out long before. So, what I want to say is, if you’re facing hurdles, if you’re stumbling on any obstacles, please don’t just lock it up inside and fake a smile and pretend everything is all right. Talk about it. Be open—with your friends, your family, the counseling center, your res life staff—anyone you might feel comfortable with. As a CRA and as a recent alum with a personal stake in wanting students to thrive here sooner rather than later, I’m always up for a conversation—look me up in the directory if you want to talk.

There is another, related matter that I would like to touch on—the health and strength of our community. We do have a really wonderful institution here at Middlebury. We have a ton of resources at our disposal, a highly talented faculty and student body, and plenty of opportunity and paths to success. But for those of us who wrestle, to some degree, with fitting in, we will never come close to realizing our true potential until we are able to feel comfortable and good about ourselves within the Middlebury environment—to feel at home here. Our community, therefore, is one of our greatest assets. Its inclusiveness, its supportiveness, and its openness to a great diversity of personalities are crucial to making this campus the most effective place it can be.

The importance of community really struck home to me at last week’s MLK memorial celebration in Mead Chapel. Dr. King was a true believer in the power of a community that makes room for everyone, and he believed in the ability of a community to adapt. As we all took hands to sing “We Shall Overcome,” the feeling of community within that chapel was so palpable. Sometimes I think that feeling is missing here in the broader Middlebury context.

I’d therefore like to end this post by asking a few questions. Do you see failings in our community here? How does it compare to where you grew up? Where is there room for improvement? Is our diversity of social groups (and their choices/values) at a healthy balance?  How do you feel about the Commons system? This is all part of a broader conversation that I believe is worth having. Because, ultimately, our community is US.  You and me.  And we are the ones who make it what it is, and who have the power to make it how we wish it to be. (You can reach the comments section here.)

 

Showing Up

At the beginning of each new year, I like to reflect on the things I want to change or improve and then commit to working on them. This has been a lifelong process that I have found very rewarding. And I think it is a critical practice to take on in our personal development.

There is one interpersonal skill, which I call “showing up,” that I try to focus on whenever possible. It requires a skill set almost everyone struggles with from time to time. Yet, those who successfully master it are often quite effective in navigating difficult situations.

Woody Allen famously said, “80 percent of success is showing up.” Most people hear this quote and think of someone passively sitting at a meeting or standing quietly at a gathering. But, I think of someone “showing up” by putting her character on the line, face to face.

This multiple-choice question demonstrates my point:

Something has happened on campus that has left you feeling really frustrated, hurt, and/or angry. The anger is powerful, and it wants to spill out. You are seething. What do you do about it?

A) As the anger builds, explode.
B) Drown your feelings and be silent.
C) Vent to your friends.
D) Vent to the world by posting your thoughts anonymously somewhere.
E) Express your feelings directly to the responsible individual(s).

From personal experience, I know that the last option is often the hardest to muster the gumption for. Confronting someone directly can place us in an intimidating, uncomfortable, unknown situation. Options A through D may feel safer.

But, avoiding direct communication is a lousy way to get through life. Anger remains and festers. Misunderstandings grow deeper. Self-doubt becomes entrenched. When you speak out about what’s on your mind, you are honoring yourself, developing character, giving the other person an opportunity to clarify or re-evaluate, and practicing the most powerful skill any of us will ever acquire, ever. It takes practice and constant fine-tuning to be able to express oneself assertively, yet graciously.

I’d like to invite you to practice direct communication here at Middlebury and to work on making it your “default mode” for handling problems. Students will never again have four years in an environment such as this, where testing the waters, educationally and experientially, is so strongly supported. We try very hard to create an atmosphere that is conducive to open dialogue—that provides honest spaces for people to share their views and their personal feelings, no matter how unpopular.

We have had some difficult and some exhilarating experiences together this year, and through all of them, I have tried to make direct communication my default mode. I must confess that I am not always perfect with this, but I am constantly trying to be better at how I connect and communicate with students, faculty, and staff. I know that tensions sometimes run high when there is a challenging campus issue we are dealing with, and sometimes that results in students feeling frustrated with one another or with the administration. There are times when I could take the comfortable route by issuing a letter or sending an e-mail, but I often see great value in sitting down together, explaining a situation or decision, and being open to feedback—providing transparency and giving all involved an opportunity to be heard. In the end, I think everyone would agree that these conversations help diffuse hard feelings and build understanding.

So consider this: For the rest of this academic year, talk with your neighbors and use your voice, front and center. Let’s really talk. Let’s not simply tweet or leave anonymous notes and postings. Let’s have conversations. I learn every time students are willing to talk with me and with each other.

Will you talk? And if someone talks to you, will you listen and try to understand?

Let me know what you think and how we can all share more ideas, find solutions, build understanding, and show up with respect and openness.

See You Next Year

Dear Readers,

An old Eskimo adage offers the following blessing: “May you have warmth in your igloo, oil in your lamp, and peace in your heart!”

That is my wish for the members of our community as we prepare to spend time with family and loved ones this holiday season—that we each find warmth, light, and serenity along the way.

Wishing you a safe and joyous winter break, I look forward to seeing you again in 2012.

Warmly,
Shirley M. Collado

 

Dear Readers,

I was very pleased when Manuel Carballo accepted my invitation to write a guest post this week. As the new director of admissions, he brings to campus a dynamic viewpoint about what it takes to create the type of diverse, welcoming community we all would like to live in. I look forward to hearing your comments and thoughts.

—Shirley M. Collado

This past summer, I moved to Middlebury, Vermont. Again. Having grown up in Costa Rica and not being a big fan of cold weather, this was a bit of a surprise to me, and yet as I talked about the move, I found myself saying time and time again that I was moving back home to Middlebury. While I enjoyed my time away in Austin, Texas, I really missed this place. I missed cheering at basketball games, Commons dinners at Atwater, and having students over for burrito night. Mostly, I missed the casual encounters around campus and getting a chance to reconnect with students and grab a cup of hot chocolate. Bumping into many of you has been a great homecoming indeed.

My role in the Admissions Office allows me the privilege of working with wonderful students from around the world as they are making one of the first major decisions in their lives. It’s an exciting time that invites students to think critically about the place they may want to call home for the next four years. The decision is made with much anticipation and excitement, but soon there is a realization that leaving home means getting out from under that warm security blanket. Making Middlebury and any other place feel like home takes some work and does not always come easily.

Soon after arriving at Midd more than six years ago, I remember getting excited about a Latino festival taking place in Burlington. Having left my favorite Costa Rican restaurant behind in Philly, as well as the great Tex-Mex in Dallas, I was ready for some good food (comida de la buena, not the limited Latino section at our local grocery store, which leaves me searching for plátanos and fresh tortillas) and a little bit of music to warm the soul. When my wife, Brook, and I arrived at the festival, we were somewhat underwhelmed. Other than some empanadas, a handful of street vendors selling hotdogs, and some music in the background, this wasn’t quite the Latino festival I had envisioned. But in all fairness, that was only my first impression. Later I recognized a mostly Caucasian crowd gathering to celebrate my culture, and I really appreciated that. By the end of the night, one of the most diverse salsa bands I’ve seen performed, and they seemed to get it just right.

Our diversity is not always visible from the outside. It comes from our shared experiences and a willingness to live in the intentional community that a small town provides. Most of us didn’t grow up here or dream of snow-filled winters. I certainly did not. I also never imagined making my home in a place where I didn’t have to lock my doors or where a trip to the post office means always bumping into friends.

Making Middlebury more diverse and welcoming takes a lot of work. It takes a community that values discomfort and welcomes those who can offer a different perspective. It also takes some brave souls who are willing to step out of their comfort zone and take on the additional challenge of entering a place that may not feel like home right away. It means some bumps and bruises along the way, but I also hope it means that we all benefit from incredible interactions and learning experiences in and out of the classroom.

Six years later, I have to say that things look different at Middlebury. Our student body looks more diverse, but more importantly, feels more diverse. Students are talking about privilege, panels are discussing socioeconomic differences, and Verbal Onslaught at 51 Main packs the house! A stroll around town, going to church on Sunday, and attending a lecture on campus reveal a much more diverse place than what I saw when I first arrived and even when I left just two years ago. There is no doubt that there is still much work to be done, but I hope that we will recognize the progress and all lend a hand in continuing to make Middlebury a place we’re all proud to call home.

Maybe I’ll even give the burrito cart a shot! Maybe.

 

Grateful

Sometimes, when my day gets hard or overwhelming, I make myself stop—and take a deep breath. I try to tune in to the moment, right now, and see the gifts around me. There are some times during the day when this is a good practice, and there are also certain times of the year when it is. This is one of them.

There are many things at Middlebury that give me comfort and grace. I’ve been able to gather a list of favorite experiences and observations that make me feel optimistic and hopeful. I love the physical beauty of this place, of course, but the people, too, have inspired me. I’ve witnessed many things that lift my spirits: intellectual risk-taking, dedicated problem solving, and acts of kindness and community.

I’ve seen very busy people stop in their tracks to help newcomers find their way. And time and again, I’ve heard new students comment on how surprised they are when strangers “smile” at them as they pass or when cars stop so they can cross the street. I’ve been heartened by the thoughtful and respectful discussions on campus aimed at solving complex problems and energized by the stellar work students, faculty, and staff produce.

Whether it’s students helping Vermonters after Hurricane Irene, community members welcoming international students into their families, or professors and staff colleagues taking their personal time to mentor students, I count these as moments to be grateful. They remind me to bring my best self to this place—to everything I do—and to help others do the same.

The physicist Paul Dirac penned an axiom that used to seem like an inexplicable riddle: “Pick a flower on Earth and you move the farthest star.” My experience at Middlebury has taught me what he meant. We are more interconnected than ever before in history, and our energy, whether positive or negative, reverberates everywhere. Dirac’s message now seems clear: We each have the power within us to transform.

Wishing you a wonderful, restful Thanksgiving break.

I was very pleased when first-year student Sayre Weir accepted my invitation to participate in a student-life panel at the trustee retreat, to offer her early impressions about the College. And I am delighted that Sayre has decided to share this experience with the Middlebury community as guest blogger this week. As always, I look forward to hearing your comments and thoughts.
—Shirley M. Collado 

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to speak on a student-life panel at the trustee retreat. Having lived here for less than two months, I consider myself a true first-year. Whether trying desperately to memorize the locations of my classes, pondering how in the world to open my mailbox, matching dozens of names to faces, or debating the relative merits of staying up late talking to my roommate and completing tomorrow’s reading assignments, I classify myself as a typical Middlebury freshman, slightly overwhelmed by new demands and the constant buzz of activity, yet enthused by my new classes and new friendships. My initial experiences on campus supplied me with ample inspiration to dust off a pair of heels from the recesses of my closet and to share my impressions and opinions of life as a first-year at Middlebury with the trustees. While I originally believed I would attend this retreat to give the trustees a glance into my chaotic journey as a first-year student, I also left the retreat with an unexpected sneak-peek into my future as a member of the Middlebury community.

The daylong retreat was structured so that the trustees could observe the progressive journey of students during their time at Middlebury. Luckily for me, this meant I spoke first and then enjoyed the rest of the day listening to upperclassmen detail their varied Middlebury experiences. Aside from sneaking out a couple of times to attend class (self-consciously noting the abnormally loud clink-clank of my heels echoing in the halls of Axinn), I relished a day of pure absorption in my surroundings and the opportunity to learn even more about the rich tapestry of student life at Middlebury.

The students spoke genuinely and honestly during their panel presentations, a fact that surprised and impressed me. While they raved about their love of the College, they also openly expressed their doubts and concerns and noted areas where they sought social and academic improvements for the school. Recognizing room for improvement and discussing struggles is a healthy and productive process for any institution. Dedicating an entire panel to challenges that students face illustrated to me that Middlebury truly cares about the student body and strives to mend the problems that we may face.

Along with discussions of challenges, the students also shared with the trustees what distinguishes Middlebury and what makes their time here wonderful. As a freshman who has yet to experience her first set of final exams (yikes!?!), it was mildly intimidating to listen as upperclassmen summarized their various achievements. At the same time, it was invigorating and motivated me to be more engaged in the Middlebury community. Stories of juniors studying abroad, accomplishments of current seniors, and exciting new jobs for recent graduates granted me a glance at the many directions that my journey may take as a Middlebury student.

After a morning and afternoon of compelling dialogue about the school, we all gathered for dinner and an evening of casual conversation at Atwater dining hall. During the day, I learned about the multifaceted Middlebury student experience.  That evening, however, I began to appreciate a longer-term, more comprehensive view of the Middlebury community. Whether it was a table conversation about new grandchildren or hiking trips to Snake Mountain, discussion about my transition from North Carolina to Vermont, or group reminiscences about adventures in college, it was clear to me that there was a shared appreciation and love for Middlebury—for its campus, its students, its community. The fact that students, trustees, staff, and graduates gathered together and conversed about their special connection to this special place, while simultaneously discussing how to expand its opportunities and address its issues demonstrates the commitment to excellence found here at Middlebury.

At the end of a day dedicated to listening to and interacting with my peers, trustees, and administrators, I kicked off those heels and knew that the passion and community we feel as students here on campus extends miles and years beyond our time here. I am excited to be a part of it.

I believe we are at a tipping point at Middlebury. This moment and opportunity will require real commitment and the generation of creative and serious solutions as we look for ways to improve student-life options on campus. The process began last year with the alcohol survey and the student forum on alcohol—and is continuing now in all sectors of the College.

Although the discussion has focused primarily on alcohol use, it touches on so many other aspects of social life. I would like to open the conversation, engaging as many of you as possible in finding workable solutions.

It is clear to me that addressing this campus issue will take the commitment, energy, and creativity of many members of our community in order to find good answers—that not only make social life more engaging here but that also foster independence and accountability among students.

My blog today includes the letter that I recently sent to the campus community about the Task Force on Alcohol and Social Life (below). I’m calling on students to step up and offer ideas and views in the comments section here, on MiddBlogand through The CampusPlease feel free also to speak with any of the task force members or to visit me during my office hours.

Let’s see how many different, thoughtful ideas we can generate. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Letter:

Dear faculty, staff, and students:

Last year we began important discussions about the relationship of alcohol to social life at Middlebury. This process began with an alcohol survey in the fall of 2010 and concluded with a well-attended student forum on alcohol in the spring of 2011. Energetic conversation on the subject was augmented by coverage in The Campus and in MiddBlog.

This year we wish to move these conversations toward constructive, realistic, and practical responses. In the process, we seek to answer these questions:

  • What role should alcohol play in the social life of our students?
  • How might we improve social events with and without alcohol?
  • What are the options for students who do not wish to drink?

As recently reported in The Campus and in MiddBlog, I have formed the Task Force on Alcohol and Social Life, composed of students, faculty, and staff to:

  • Review the quality and variety of social options on campus (as well as how social events are marketed)
  • Assess the positive and negative roles that alcohol plays in student social experience
  • Propose new or revised policies, procedures, and support structures that effectively address student, faculty, and staff concerns

I am very pleased to announce that Dean of Students Katy Smith Abbott and Coach Bob Ritter will be co-chairing the task force. Task force members include:

  • Adam Beaser, ’14
  • Priscilla Bremser, Professor of Mathematics
  • Susan DeSimone, Associate in Science Instruction, Biology
  • Dan Gaiotti, Associate Director, Public Safety
  • Carllee James, ’13
  • Matt Kimble, Associate Professor of Psychology
  • Nathan LaBarba, ’14
  • Robert LaMoy, ’12
  • Sylvia Manning, Manager, Custodial Services
  • Ellen McKay, Administrative Program Coordinator, Chaplain’s Office
  • Nial Rele, ’12
  • Becca Shaw, ’12
  • Annie Wymard, ’15

Task force members will specifically be asked to:

  • Review current national and regional data on alcohol use among college students; examine evidence-based recommendations to reduce problematic drinking; evaluate the applicability of national and regional recommendations to the Middlebury setting.
  • Review current alcohol policy and make suggestions for revised policies and enforcement.
  • Assess the College’s approach to health and wellness education, consider programs for prevention and for those struggling with addiction.
  • Develop ideas for enhancing social life, including viable options for first-year students.
  • Assess the balance between fostering independence and student responsibility while ensuring the safety of all students.
  • Investigate the relationship between excessive drinking and vandalism on campus, with an eye toward proposing workable solutions.
  • Present additional ideas and creative solutions.

This task force will be a working and action-oriented group. In addition to carrying out the above-mentioned tasks, they will be engaging members of the community (especially students) throughout the year for feedback and ideas. A final report with recommendations will be submitted to President Liebowitz and me by late April 2012.

We are committed to this effort and hope that you will be a part of the conversation and the solutions by providing feedback and ideas along the way. Feel free to reach out to Dean of Students Katy Smith Abbott, Coach Bob Ritter, or me if you have any questions or suggestions.

Sincerely,
Shirley M. Collado

The students on Middlebury’s Solar Decathlon team have done something remarkable. They have taken everything they’ve learned in the classroom and put it to work at solving an intricate, urgent problem. They have used their knowledge of math, geometry, physics, environmental science, computer science, esthetics, sociology, art, and more and applied it to a complicated puzzle. Furthermore, they have had to figure out how to research the things they don’t know, and they’ve had to learn how to work within complex systems, manage group dynamics, fundraise, negotiate, and promote their project.

I believe this is an example of what a liberal arts education in the 21st century can be—where learning both inside the classroom and out come together to create a new, dynamic set of skills and knowledge. Most importantly, this kind of learning can help students solve real-world problems.

Working through the Center for Education in Action, MiddSTART, the Project on Creativity and Innovation, and other Middlebury programs, many Middlebury students have embarked on ambitious projects. This summer, for example, seniors Ben Blackshear, Janet Rodrigues, Jacob Udell, and Kenneth Williams started an urban garden with schoolchildren in the Bronx, New York, and they raised the funds necessary to make the project a success. A visit to the MiddSTART website reveals numerous projects students are launching.

More and more students are coming to Middlebury with the expectation that they will be tackling internships, community problems, social issues, projects, and initiatives in preparation for the time when they move out into the world. They want to be able to hit the ground running—learning without the barriers of place, language, or resources. This is exactly in line with the mission of the College.

However, these outside-the-classroom opportunities are challenging those of us in higher education to re-examine our ideas about what a liberal arts education should be. There is a natural tension between the two educational modes: project-based or experiential learning vs. classroom learning. Some worry that if we move too far along the continuum of experiential learning, we will stray from our traditional liberal arts roots and become more of a preprofessional institution. Others feel that hands-on experiences are the best way for people to learn.

We are having lively conversations about these differences here at Middlebury, right now. The academic year opened with a faculty meeting that included a panel discussion about learning outside the classroom. President Liebowitz recently hosted a leadership summit with “thought leaders” about aligning our education with 21st-century demands for college graduates. I moderated a panel at the summit—Katherine Bass ’11.5, Nerissa Khan ’12, Daniel Powers ’12, and Ryan Kim ’14 spoke about the projects they are doing outside the classroom and how those connect to their intellectual interests and personal passions.

I believe this kind of learning is an essential component of a Middlebury education. If we want to continue to be relevant as an institution, we must evolve in the world we live in. The demands that are being placed on our new graduates to actively engage the world, in all of its complexity, require us to help them learn how to apply their knowledge, how to connect the dots.

Leaders at Middlebury are asking, Can we have project-based or experiential learning and still preserve the integrity of a liberal arts education? I think we can. It’s the most powerful way to do it.

But I would like to hear from you. What do you think? How does hands-on learning impact your intellectual experience? What’s your vision for a 21st-century liberal arts education?

 

Starting Fresh

As we start the school year together, I am so pleased to see you all, rested and energized, and ready to tackle the opportunities ahead. I hope you had an engaging, yet restorative summer. I know I did, and I am excited to begin the year with you anew.

The beginning of the school year is always infused with a special level of energy and excitement. We head into the fall looking forward to rich conversations and growth as individuals and as a community, reflecting on how best to strengthen what works well for us, and challenging ourselves to gain new insights and skills in other areas of exploration.

This approach certainly characterized the 2010–11 year, and, as happens every year, those of us in the student life area came away with a number of important issues on which to reflect and work over the summer. Among the more prominent of these issues was the question of student-life policies and how to ensure that they meet several standards: that they are based on a defined set of community values and goals, that they are written as clearly as possible, and that they are easily accessible to all students.

We therefore undertook a major review of all Student Life Handbook policies in order to meet these goals. We removed text that was redundant, tried to simplify language that was confusing, and reorganized the layout to improve clarity and accessibility. In addition, we added a clear set of Community Standards upon which these policies are based. Most of the text of these standards was consolidated from existing handbook language, but because it was formerly distributed over several different locations, it was difficult to process as a coherent set of values. These are the standards that characterize our approach to all decisions around student and community life at Middlebury, and we hope that their increased transparency will help to guide us all.

I would like to draw your special attention to a few important initiatives:

1. We have introduced a new Sexual Misconduct Policy, based on more than two years of research by Middlebury’s Sexual Assault Oversight Committee.  Changes include an effort to encourage the reporting of violations by removing an in-person judicial board hearing from the process; engaging a trained professional investigator; strengthening and clarifying all definitions, including those of consent and coercion; and ensuring that all parties have equal rights and opportunities throughout the process. You will be hearing more about this policy in the weeks to come, but in the meantime, I encourage all of you to familiarize yourself with it.

2. We have streamlined the language of our Alcohol and Other Drugs policy considerably. After last spring’s all-campus forum about our alcohol policies and practices, we agreed that this year we would create a working group of students, staff, and faculty to explore some of the important issues and suggestions regarding alcohol and social life that emerged from the forum. I am looking forward to this process; in the meantime, we hope you will find this description of our current policies to be clear and accessible.

3. We have strengthened the hazing policy on two fronts: In addition to providing new sections that contain examples of active and passive hazing, we have provided a clarified processes description and created a hazing website. We hope this will augment the policy by providing educational information and resources. Although the site is still in its early stages, we will continue to develop it this fall; students interested in contributing to this effort should contact Associate Dean Doug Adams.

4. We have added a new policy in the General Conduct section called Providing False or Misleading Information, in which we clarify our expectation that all students communicate with members of our staff and faculty with complete honesty and integrity. Although this standard is not new, in the past, we have held students who violate it accountable under the former Respect for College Officials policy (now called Respect for the Authority of College Officials). In an effort to bring this expectation to students’ attention in the clearest way possible, we have made it more explicit under the new policy.

5. Finally, in an effort to highlight some of Middlebury’s most important resources and practices, we have created a Middlebury Student Resource Guide. This booklet has been distributed to all new students and is available online. It is intended to highlight for all students those policies and resources that are especially important and to direct you to more information as appropriate. We hope it will help both new and returning students to understand and embrace our community values and to feel at home here.

I look forward to a year of spirited discussion and exploration with you. Let the discussions begin: Please post any comments you’d like to make about the policies, or student life in general, here.

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