A People's History of Middlebury College

a history of Middlebury College centered on marginalized voices, social/political mobilizations, and periods of struggle

A People's History of Middlebury College


Power, Privilege, Prestige

Resistance at a private college in rural Vermont is not easy. The cost of attendance, the geographic isolation, and the elitism all make Middlebury a highly inaccessible place for those interested in challenging the status quo. Some politicized students do make it through the application process, of course, and some are radicalized through their studies. Then there are more challenges once one joins the community—a harsh, rule-filled student handbook, parietal hours, etc.—structures that ensure that any movements for change are quickly sanitized and squashed. Staff police students, staff police staff, faculty police students, faculty police faculty, students police staff, students police students, etc. Author of the two-volume history of Middlebury College once described the campus atmosphere as “self-satisfied, conservative, and apolitical.”

This history is one of a particular place with particular power structures. Even as much has changed at Middlebury College over the years, much has stayed the same. Middlebury has always been an exclusive private college in a capitalist country. The Board of Trustees and the administration have always made decisions about student life and faculty/staff compensation. Fundraising has always been a major focus of those in power at Middlebury. With fundraising efforts comes the development of prestige of elitism.

In this section of the website you will find information about Middlebury as an instituion–about trends and themes that may not be a part of a ‘people’s history’ of marginalization and resistance persay, but that is relevant for the context. Middlebury is an institution that reproduces privilege. Here you will learn what that has meant over the years.