beyond the green: collective of middlebury voices

a student-run publication that seeks to provide space for voices that are not being heard on our campus. we are grounded by politics that are radical, anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-classist, anti-homophobic, anti-ableist, and anti-transphobic (against all forms of oppression) and that reject the structural neo-liberal paradigm that characterizes middlebury college and its official publications

a list of demands

By: The Coalition

We are a coalition of students who have come together to build sustained political community on our campus. As members of this community engaged in multiple initiatives for institutional change, we seek to challenge systems of marginalization and oppression that are currently operating at Middlebury. We are committed to working for a more just, inclusive, safe, and supportive environment. Part of this work requires drawing attention to structural issues that negatively impact our academic pursuits, well being, and safety in our time here. We are committed to combining critique with action to ensure that the administration is accountable to the broader community, and that students are active participants in shaping this institution. We make all decisions in a democratic process, and our demands are dynamic and responsive to the current conditions. The following are our current demands:

AAL TO ALL

 1. The Coalition demands that the college change its Culture and Civilizations requirements to reflect a more inclusive and less eurocentric approach to studying the world, as proposed by Midd Included.

Under the current requirements, the college seems to place an emphasis on the study of Western cultures and civilizations, while minimizing the importance of all other cultures and civilizations of the world by lumping them together into one category. Not only are these requirements failing to reflect our college’s belief about the importance of the study of different cultures and civilizations, but they are also limiting educational opportunities for students. With the pressure to fulfill the Culture and Civilizations requirements, students who have already taken an AAL course are forced to take courses that fulfill a EUR or NOR requirement over courses that might only give them another AAL requirement, but covers a different region than their previous AAL class (i.e. one class called Trade and Foreign Aid in Latin America and another called African Politics).

Making the EUR credit an option rather than a requirement does not mean that students will never be exposed to European thought. Even in classes that are not region focused, such as literature, science, theater, and economics, students are constantly exposed to Western thought and European tradition. It does means that students who wish to study other regions of the world will have greater educational opportunities, while students who wish to pursue the study of Europe can still do so.

Among the faculty’s list of thirteen College-wide LearningGoals, was to goal to “understand and appreciate difference, commonality, and connectedness across cultures and societies around the world.” As a step toward achieving this objective, we propose an alternative to the current distribution requirements. Under the new requirement, students would take two courses in different geographic areas and one focused on North America; however, the requirement to take courses in EUR would be removed. Students would be required to take:

1. Two courses, each of which focuses on the cultures and civilization of:

a. AFR: Africa

b. ASI: Asia

c. LAC: Latin America and the Caribbean

d. MDE: Middle East

e. EUR: Europe

f. OCE: Oceania

2. NOR: one course that focus on some aspect of the cultures and civilizations of northern America (United States and Canada and Mexico)

3. CMP: one course that focuses on the process of comparison between and among cultures and civilizations, or a course that focus on the identity and experience of separable groups within cultures and civilizations.

We therefore demand that the faculty use the following categories in the Cultures and Civilizations requirements. We consider it reasonable for this change to be made by no later than the start of the fall semester of 2016.

CREATION OF A MULTICULTURAL CENTER

2. The Coalition demands that the administration provide funding and other necessary support for a Multicultural Center. We, as have MANY students before us, envision a space in which all students feel comfortable. We demand a space that visually represents the students it seeks to serve, that is equipped with qualified staff to serve students seeking multicultural resources and services otherwise unavailable on campus, and that educates the entire campus community on issues of identity and privilege.

In the first sentence of its Mission Statement, Middlebury College claims to “challenge students to participate fully in a vibrant and diverse academic community.” While the college has invested in initiatives, such as Discover Middlebury, to increase the diversity within the college to actually provide that diverse academic community it claims, it has lacked initiatives to support the students that are already here.  It is time that the College develops and institutionalizes a center that serves to support the students it uses to bolster its diversity statistics.

We demand that the administration provide funding and other necessary support for a Multicultural Center. We, as have MANY students before us, envision a space in which all students feel comfortable. We demand a space that visually represents the students it seeks to serve, that is equipped with qualified staff to serve students seeking multicultural resources and services otherwise unavailable on campus, and that educates the entire campus community on issues of identity and privilege. 

While some might argue that such spaces already exist in the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE) and PALANA, the truth is that these spaces do not and cannot play the role that a Multicultural Center would.  The Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE) serves as an academic resource, and PALANA is an informal residential house; therefore, a space that provides informed, compassionate services to students who are underrepresented and often marginalized at Middlebury is missing. PALANA is an academic interest house and is as strong as the students who live there each year. The CCSRE facilitates relevant academic programming, but has a quite ambiguous role on campus seeing as how having a center that studies race and ethnicity without any racial or ethnic studies programs is akin to having a basketball gym with no basketball team, nor any balls.

Others might argue that Dean Collado as Chief Diversity Officer exists to provide the support that we speak of. However, we absolutely disagree with this belief. Though Middlebury College often turns to Chief Diversity Officer Collado to lead diversity initiatives, it is unethical to diminish the attention diversity and multicultural affairs require by boiling it down to simply one of the many hats that Dean Collado must wear, which include Chief Diversity Officer, Dean of the College and her recently added title of Vice President for Student Affairs.  CDO is a title that requires a dedicated member of our administration to allot their entire schedule to, working daily to ensure that the words of our mission statement are achieved.  We need not look far to find Chief Diversity Officers who function only in that role.  Most other esteemed NESCACs already have CDO’s who do just that. You can read about what other NESCACs Multicultural Centers by following the links below:

Williams College – http://davis-center.williams.edu/

Amherst College – https://www.amherst.edu/campuslife/MRC

Tufs University – http://medicine.tufts.edu/Who-We-Are/Administrative-Offices/Office-of-Multicultural-Affairs

Colby College – https://www.colby.edu/administration_cs/student-affairs/deanofstudents/multicultural/pughcenter.cfm

Seeing that PALANA, the CCSRE, and the Chief Diversity Officer do not provide all the support and resources that a Multicultural Center would, we call for the creation of such space no later than the fall of 2016. 

 BAN SODEXO

3. The Coalition demands that Middlebury College puts in writing that it will not work with Sodexo Inc. because its history of violating human rights, infringing upon labor laws, and stripping away workers’ benefits does not reflect the values of the college.  Furthermore, we demand that the administration make public its current relationship and terms of contract, if any, with Sodexo.

Representatives from Sodexo, Inc., a European multinational corporation that specializes in food services, were brought to campus in early October to do a two-day observation and assessment of the college’s Dining Services and Retail Food Operation. Sodexo has a long-history of workers’ right abuses. In the fall, the Vermont Fair Food Campaign wrote an open letter about Sodexo’s slash of workers’ benefits—reductions in retirement packages and healthcare, as well as elimination of paid sick leave and vacation time, a practice they have implemented at the University of Vermont with considerable faculty and student resistance. Its union-busting techniques were detailed in a 2010 Human Rights Watch report,[1] and it has been found guilty of National Labor Relations Board violations multiple times. In 2005, thousands of African-American employees of Sodexo accused the company of racist practices for not offering promotions to people of color and segregating the work environment.[2] Ultimately, Sodexo settled in an $80 million racial bias suit. The Sodexo Alliance is also the leading investor in private prison profiteering. It has a seventeen-percent share in Corrections Corporation of America and a nine-percent share in CCA’s sister company Prison Realty Trust, meaning the corporation is profiting off of mass incarceration.[3]  We demand that Middlebury College puts in writing that it will not work with Sodexo Inc. because its history of violating human rights, infringing upon labor laws, and stripping away workers’ benefits threaten the livelihoods of the College’s dining hall staff and do not reflect the values of the college.  Furthermore, we demand that the administration make public its current relationship and terms of contract, if any, with Sodexo.  We call for these demands to be met by the end of this current semester.

 

[1] “A Strange Case: Violations of Workers’ Freedom of Association in the United States by European Multinational Corporations,” Human Rights Watch, September 2010.

[2] Annys Shin, “$80 Million Settles Race-Bias Case,” The Washington Post, April 28, 2005.

[3] “Ten Colleges Boycott Prison Profiteer,” The Progress Report.

Bibliography:

“A Strange Case: Violations of Workers’ Freedom of Association in the United States by

European Multinational Corporations.” Human Rights Watch. Sept. 2010.

“NLRB Finds That Sodexo Violated USC Hospital Workers’ Rights.” United Students Against

         Sweatshops. 17 July 2012.

Shin, Annys. “$80 Million Settles Race-Bias Case,” The Washington Post, 28 April. 2005.

“Ten Colleges Boycott Prison Profiteer.” The Progress Report.

“Vermont Fair Food Campaign: A Letter to Sodexo Management.” VT Digger [Montpelier] 6

Oct. 2012.

 

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