Location: Middlebury, Vermont
Federal Circuit: 2nd Circuit
Middlebury College has been given the speech code rating Red. A red light university has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech. Read more here.
Red Light Policies
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies, StatementExamples of sexual harassment include, but are not limited to, the following: ... derogatory or provoking remarks about or relating to a student's or employee's sex or sexual orientation.
Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility, StatementFlagrant disrespect for persons, flouting of common standards of decency, behavior unbecoming of a Middlebury student, or continued behavior that demonstrates contempt for the generally accepted values of the intellectual community may result in disciplinary action.
Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies, StatementHarassment may include repeated slurs, or taunts in the guise of jokes, or disparaging references to others, use of epithets, stereotypes, comments, gestures, threats, graffiti, display, or circulation of written or visual materials, taunts on manner of speech, and negative reference to customs when such conduct is based on or motivated by one or more of the protected characteristics identified above, or other characteristics protected by applicable law.
Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies, StatementAll users of our computing and networking facilities bear the responsibility to avoid libel, obscenity, undocumented allegations, attacks on personal integrity, and harassment.
Speech Code Category: Other Speech Codes, StatementStudent organizations bear full responsibility for arranging and financing any Department of Public Safety provisions that may be necessary in connection with controversial speakers.
Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies, StatementAnyone who wishes to stage a demonstration or protest at any event on College property should contact and arrange a meeting with Public Safety to discuss College policy, demonstration-specific regulations, and safety issues.
Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression, StatementThe College recognizes that its students are citizens of larger communities -- local, state, and federal -- and should enjoy the same rights of petition and freedoms of speech and peaceful assembly that other citizens enjoy. Faculty and administrative officials should ensure that College authority is not used to inhibit that intellectual and personal growth of students, fostered by the exercise of the rights of citizenship, both on and off campus.
Middlebury College Handbook: Faculty Handbook – Rules of Appointment and Tenure for Academic Faculty 13-14
Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression, StatementInstitutions of higher education are conducted for the common good and not to further the interests of either the individual teacher or the institution as a whole. The common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free exposition.
Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression, StatementStudents, student organizations, faculty, and staff at Middlebury College are free to examine and discuss all questions of interest to them and to express opinions publicly and privately.
Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression, StatementMiddlebury College is a community of learners and as such recognizes and affirms that free, honest intellectual inquiry, debate, and constructive dialogue are vital to the academic mission of the College and must be protected even when the views expressed are unpopular or controversial.
February 8, 2013
Today, FIRE continues our blog series on the state of free speech at America’s top 10 liberal arts colleges, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report. Up for discussion today is U.S. News‘ fourth-ranked liberal arts college, Middlebury College. Like third-ranked Swarthmore College, Middlebury receives a “red light” rating, which means that it maintains at least one policy (in Middlebury’s case, two policies) that both clearly and substantially prohibits what would otherwise be protected expression. Although Middlebury is private, its College Handbook states that “The College recognizes that its students are citizens of larger communities—local, state, and federal—and should […]» Read More
November 5, 2012
After a six-hour hearing in front of more than 250 students, faculty, and staff members, Middlebury College will not punish the five students responsible for sending out a hoax press release in advance of a recent visit from the Dalai Lama. However, the students were found guilty of violating two Middlebury policies and will receive a reprimand, as MiddBlog reports: [The Middlebury Community Judicial Board] found the students guilty of violating the Community Standard of communicating with honesty and integrity in the College Handbook, and the “ethical and law-abiding behavior” clause in the Library and Information Services (LIS) policy. However, their […]» Read More
October 30, 2012
Middlebury College, a private institution in Vermont, has decided to teach its students a lesson about the cost of dissent and the danger of criticizing the powers that be. Here’s the story in a nutshell: Earlier this month, the Dalai Lama visited Middlebury, and in advance of his visit, local media outlets received a press release that appeared to be from Middlebury. The release, which contained Middlebury’s logo and purported to be from “Tim Schornak” of the “Dalai Lama Welcoming Committee,” trumpeted eye-catching news: “Middlebury College Divests from War in Honor of Dalai Lama Visit.” The lead paragraphs, complete with […]» Read More
February 9, 2011
MiddBlog, an “alternative news and events blog for Middlebury College students,” has picked up on Sam’s arguments about the college’s new videos featuring fictional character “Aunt Des.” The character, described by The Chronicle of Higher Education as “a redheaded, acrylic-nailed caricature of a Greek-American New Jerseyite,” stars in a new series of videos encouraging Middlebury students not to steal dishes from dining facilities. As Sam pointed out on Monday, the use of the stereotype violates the college’s overbroad harassment policy, which bans the use of “stereotypes,” “circulation of written or visual materials,” “taunts on manner of speech, and negative reference […]» Read More
February 7, 2011
According to Middlebury College’s Anti-Harassment Policy, prohibited harassment may include the use of “stereotypes,” “circulation of written or visual materials,” “taunts on manner of speech, and negative reference to customs” on the basis of, among other things, “place of birth, ancestry, ethnicity” and “national origin.” What, then, can we make of Middlebury’s new video campaign aimed at ending dishware theft on campus? The campaign, which was profiled last week by The Chronicle of Higher Education, is a series of videos featuring the fictional “Aunt Des,” described by the Chronicle as “a redheaded, acrylic-nailed caricature of a Greek-American New Jerseyite who’s hell-bent […]» Read More
May 4, 2009
FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for May 2009: Middlebury College in Vermont. Middlebury’s ironically named policy on Freedom of Inquiry and Expression provides that Student organizations bear full responsibility for arranging and financing any Department of Public Safety provisions that may be necessary in connection with controversial speakers. The policy further states: The Deans’ offices and [Center for Campus Activities and Leadership] also have the right to specify security measures to the organizations as seem appropriate. If the College, through the offices of the deans, CCAL or the president, judges that security arrangements are inadequate and that […]» Read More
June 5, 2007
At Middlebury College’s commencement last week, President Ronald D. Liebowitz delivered the 2007 Baccalaureate Address to the school’s graduating seniors, as is customary around this time of year in central Vermont. Rather than reciting the all-too-common collage of clichés reprised in so many graduation speeches, however, President Liebowitz used his bully pulpit to focus on what he terms the “value of discomfort” in a modern liberal arts education. Specifically, in observing that “[d]iversity sure can be messy,” Liebowitz argues that “well-educated individuals like yourselves, who have been made to feel uncomfortable and understand difference, are more likely than others to […]» Read More
June 3, 2005
The Village Voice had an interesting article recently about a senior at Middlebury College who was expelled from school for allegedly entering a classmate’s dorm room without permission. The article highlights one of the major problems at many American colleges and universities: the complete lack of due process—one of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution—in university judicial systems.» Read More