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 to customs" on the basis of, among other things, "place of birth, ancestry, ethnicity" and "national origin."
Writing for MiddBlog, JP Allen observes:
FIRE’s main beef with Midd is that the College’s vague and open-ended policies can be both ineffectual and too restrictive. The Aunt Des videos should technically count as inappropriate by the College’s own standards (which FIRE says are too broad), yet they somehow just don’t. If Aunt Des were of a different ethnicity, would things be different? If Aunt Des had been created by students instead of by the Administration? These questions can’t be answered in a consistent way by the current policy, FIRE contends.
That’s exactly right. Thanks to MiddBlog for continuing the discussion.