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
by: Timothy Garcia
On Friday night around 3am I was hanging outside of Forest Hall, which I live in, with a group of around 4 other friends (so in total there were 5 people of color in one area). We were joking and having a great time. We were fully safe and felt fully comfortable. We were loud but no one outside of this group seemed to have a problem with our boisterousness. That’s when a pub safe officer walked up to us.
“Is there a problem here? You guys are being loud.”
“No officer. We are just hanging out. We will lower our voices.”
“Yeah. I just heard a lot of noise and as I got closer I thought there might be a fight or something.”
I felt quite safe within the comfort of my expression. I felt comfort in the people surrounding me.
However, in the moment following the interaction with the pub safe officer, I have never felt more unsafe. His response to our congregation was that we were violent not that we were friends just sharing a laugh at something that had happened earlier. We were just enjoying each other’s company but to him we were causing trouble, being a disturbance. What this officer lacked was understanding that different cultures express themselves differently. Yes, it was late at night and yes we were being loud but after seeing us interact did these factors color his interpretation of what was happening? Why was it assumed that we were fighting? Our friend groups acts like this anywhere. We could have been in a dorm room, we could have been in the dining hall, we could have been in a hallway, but what made outside so different?
How do we deal with different cultures at Middlebury and different forms of expression? The answer is we don’t. Middlebury itself exists in tolerance of existence.
And what did we do after this? We laughed. We laughed loudly as he walked away. We laughed because what more could we do? We knew exactly what was problematic with the statement immediately. We almost expected it. And most importantly we are desensitized to it. To exist at Middlebury is to figure out just how much of yourself you are willing to keep intact while in public.