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Welcome to Our Website!

Thanks for visiting!

The People’s Gender Council of Middlebury (PGCOM) is a grassroots group of Middlebury College students, staff, and faculty who have a strong background in gender studies and/or anti-oppression activism. We advise the administration on gendered policy issues, and work to effect broad, systemic change by practicing issue-based, coalitional politics. All are highly encouraged to get involved by bringing their ideas to the Council, which seeks to cut through administrative red tape by reaching out directly to policymakers.

Look below for updates about what PGCOM is up to, sign up for our mailing listcheck out our meeting schedule so you can pop in on one of our sessions (you’re always welcome!), browse our minutes to catch up on what we’ve been doing, and see what issues our subcommittees are working on!

We love feedback, so feel free to comment on any post or page you encounter, or e-mail us at gendercouncil@gmail.com!


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Welcome! If you’re reading this post, it’s probable you were directed by the above flier to go/gc (which usually redirects to our main page). We’re thrilled you’re visiting our site, and encourage you to poke around a bit—particularly at our “About,” “Projects,” and “Structure” pages, which will give you some more info about what the People’s Gender Council of Middlebury is, and what work we’ve been up to.

As for the poster itself, we don’t have too much more to say: here’s a letter we wrote [PDF] on February 14, 2011, to President of the College Ron Liebowitz, Vice President for Administration Tim Spears, and Dean of the College Shirley Collado—the first formal declaration of our intent to form the People’s Gender Council of Middlebury—in the aftermath of the Community Council meeting referenced in the above piece.

For more info about all of our sessions with Community Council meeting, check out their minutes: from our first meeting on November 29, 2010 [PDF]; our second meeting on January 17, 2011 [PDF]; and their final recommendation following a vote on January 24, 2011 [PDF]. Here’s the text of that recommendation:

Community Council strongly recommends the following outcome for the Gender Council Proposal that was presented to us in November 2010 and on January 17, 2011.

We strongly recommend a standing body composed of students, faculty and staff to address issues of the intersection of identity.  After careful review of the Gender Council proposal, Community Council recommends that this standing body seriously examine identity issues, including gender.   We would like the name of the council to be more broadly reflective of diversity, identity and inclusion rather than specifically gender.   This recommendation is in line with the outcomes of the 2006 Human Relations Committee Report.

(We invite anyone to point out to us what outcomes of the 2006 HRC Report they’re referring to [the quick list of recommendations is in Appendix A], because we’re not really sure. Additionally, we’re not sure why they chose to focus solely on the 2006 HRC Report, given that our presentations to them and our Executive Summary indicated our focus also lay on the even more recent 2008 Report of the Task Force on the Status of Women.)

We say they rejected our proposal for a council focusing on gender because they did—in favor of a council “more broadly reflective of diversity, identity and inclusion rather than specifically gender.” Is this a bad thing? (Who’s to say?) All we know is that what we proposed has been called for by institutional reports for more than twenty years.

You can also find the 1990 Final Report of the Special Committee on Attitudes Towards Gender on our “Institutional Memory” page, in addition to other gender- and diversity-related reports from the past two decades. One of the core goals of our Institutional Memory Subcommittee is to gather, examine, and even create/capture this memory, with the goal of making it accessible to activists who want to know what kinds of Middlebury ‘diversity’ ideals the College has met in grounded ways.

Isn’t it time to hold the Administration accountable to the repeatedly-made recommendations of the reports they’ve been commissioning for the past 23 years?

The Deep Dark Forest of Middlebury College

There is a trigger warning for this post and the accompanying comment section, which discuss sexual assault and institutional responses and non-responses to it.

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Art Credit: Annie Rodrigue

Nearly three years ago—on Wednesday, May 7, 2008—Middlebury students, staff, and faculty asked what we still consider to be a very important question:

Carbon-neutral by 2016; rape-free by...???

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Military Recruitment & More!

*We’re still looking for new members of academic year 2011-2012! Click here for more info*

Some exciting updates:

  • We’ve added an “About” page to our website! It contains important (slightly adapted) information from the document formally proposing the creation of the Council.
  • We’ve also included updated sections from the “Opportunities for Progress” portion of the formal proposal on our “Projects” page!
  • The PGCOM Subcommittee on Resisting Discriminatory Military Recruitment Practices has produced a report recommending the College not revert its “Recruitment Policy for Employers” to its pre-Fall 2007 language on the basis of the erroneous belief that the military no longer violates Middlebury’s Nondiscrimination Statement post-DADT repeal. (Hint: The military regularly discharges its transgender members for a variety of inappropriate reasons—a discriminatory practice under a nondiscrimination statement that has at least ‘on paper’ protected our community members on the basis of “gender identity and expression” for nearly eight years.)
  • The Propaganda Subcommittee’s new agitprop campaign kicks off today! Stay tuned.

Calling New Members!

If you are interested in becoming more actively involved in the work of the People’s Gender Council of Middlebury in the academic year 2011-2012, now’s your chance!

Students: Send an e-mail to gendercouncil@gmail.com containing your name, graduation year, and major(s)/minor(s). Then attend, if at all possible, our meeting this Thursday, April 28, at 4:30 P.M. in Axinn 104. (It’s a regularly scheduled meeting with a full agenda—a chance for you to experience how our group operates, and for us to get to know you. It’s not an interview!) If you are unable to attend the meeting, send us that e-mail anyway! We’ll work something out.

Staff/faculty: Send an e-mail to gendercouncil@gmail.com. We’ll be in touch!

And now for some exciting announcements:

  • We’ve added a new page to our website: Projects! It lists and describes all of the PGCOM initiatives that have made significant headway at Middlebury. Check it out!
  • The PGCOM Subcommittee on Individual Empowerment through Official Self-Identification has released a report detailing some recommendations for what a web form that allows students, staff, and faculty to declare their preferred name, gender marker, and pronouns ought to look like. (Excerpt: “Clearly state that in the directory, the applicant’s name will appear as ‘Off-Beat, My Dancing Is,’ while the applicant’s ID card will state, ‘My Dancing Is Off-Beat.'”) Read it here!
  • The PGCOM Propaganda Subcommittee is set to unveil a new piece of agitprop all over campus this week. Stay tuned!

The Gender Council: Grassroots Policy Change*

by Viveka Ray-Mazumder, Joey Radu, Elizabeth King, and Lark Mulligan

In November 2009, a group of students and college employees asked a simple question: What if campus activists and experts interested in gender, sexuality, race, disability, ethnicity, class, and nationality could have a permanent voice in Middlebury’s policymaking process—much like environmental activists and experts have a permanent voice through the Environmental Council? Over a year later, these same folk have developed a proposal to create a Gender Council (GC)—a permanent body comprised of students, staff, and faculty that would advise Administrators on gendered policy issues—that would be a resource to help the College resolve issues related to gender before crises occur. Although difficult to explain in so few words, here are some answers to frequently asked questions:

Why is this called the “Gender Council” if it deals with more than just gender?

GC is neither exclusively about women’s issues nor about gender alone, but about entanglements—how it is impossible to discuss “gendered” issues in isolation from other categories of identity. Many colleges have an LGBTQ Council; however, GC would recognize that gendered experiences often extend far beyond the range of sexuality. For example, we cannot address the experiences of Muslim women on campus without bringing together race, ethnicity, gender, nationality, and religion (at the least). Likewise, GC would work cooperatively with ongoing Diversity efforts to examine issues of race, gender, and socioeconomic status that may play into the challenges of recruiting and retaining students, staff, and faculty of color at Middlebury.  GC would be attentive to these nuances, and would incorporate the specificity of these unique gendered experiences in college policy. We do not just want to make Middlebury more diverse, or more “tolerant” of diversity. We want to help restructure power relations at the College so as to foster a community where all students, staff, and faculty can feel like they belong, and flourish.

Why can’t existing organizations do the tasks that GC is proposing? Continue reading