Support Middlebury Students Who Are Being Punished by the College for Protesting Charles Murray
Dear Middlebury College Administration,
We, the undersigned, believe that the College should inflict no official college discipline on students who protested the Charles Murray event. Punishing protesters does not address the underlying issues that led to the Charles Murray uproar, and instead serves to further them.
The protest revealed just how deeply unheard many students feel on campus, and silencing this outrage by judicial means will not make the outrage go away. By punishing protesters, the College is sending the message that it is not interested in understanding why students felt they had to go to such measures to be heard. It is sending the message that it values its own comfort above the safety and wellbeing of its students. And it is sending the message, loud and clear, about who matters at Middlebury.
Instead of using the judicial process to punish protesters, we implore you to listen to them. Ask questions. Try to understand the reasons why many do not feel heard on this campus, and be humble enough to accept that you might not know what is best for them. The course of action pursued thus far by the College is reflective of the punitive justice system in our country, whereby the powerful punish the less powerful without regard for the processes that led to the action, or the myriad ways that the powerful are implicated in that action.
Many events in the past month have focused on how we as a community are going to move forward after March 2nd: these events should be viewed as an opportunity for restorative justice, a process that requires more courage and humility than simply indicting students.
Not only did the College damage our community by failing to cancel Murray’s talk, demonizing students in the national media and then punishing students for standing up against white supremacy, but it has failed to accept any responsibility for this damage. This shows an extreme lack of humility and a deep hypocrisy: how can you expect students to take responsibility for their actions without first doing the same?
We ask that you, the Middlebury College Administration, publicly acknowledge how much you have damaged our community and work collaboratively with students to envision and enact a type of justice that actively dismantles the oppressive structures that led to this event. Inflicting official college discipline only perpetuates these structures. This is an opportunity to make meaningful change in our community, and we can either take that opportunity or be yet another institution remembered for its devotion to order over justice.
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