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Following violent protest, Middlebury begins issuing sanctions

Middlebury College has begun issuing disciplinary sanctions against students identified as participants in the violent March protest that prevented academic and writer Charles Murray from speaking on campus and left the talk’s moderator, professor Allison Stanger, with a concussion, according to The Middlebury Campus. Reporters Will DiGravio and Alex Newhouse write:

As of April 17, the College has identified “more than 70 individuals it believes may be subject to disciplinary procedures under student handbook policies” due to their participation in the March 2 protests that prevented Dr. Charles Murray from delivering a scheduled lecture, according to an official statement released by the College.

Of those identified, “more than 30 students have accepted disciplinary sanctions for their actions.” In that same statement, the College said, “We will not comment on the nature or range of the sanctions until the process is complete.”

The Middlebury Campus report explains that students disciplined thus far have been placed on disciplinary probation:

Unofficial punishment, according to several students involved, has generally been given in the form of probation; official punishment is anything that goes on a student’s permanent record.

Students who are placed on probation have a letter placed in their file that will be removed at the end of the semester. However, if a student is placed on probation and then violates another college policy, the probation can become a part of their official record.

The article also explains that while students who protested prior to the event’s live stream have received “unofficial punishment,” students who continued to protest after the beginning of the event may receive “official punishment”:

According to multiple students, the College has given unofficial punishment to students who participated in the protest prior to the live stream of the conversation held between Murray and Russell J. Leng ‘60 Professor of International Politics and Economics Allison Stanger. Students were told that those who continued to protest during the live stream in Wilson Hall may receive official college discipline. As of April 25, it is unclear whether or not any students have received official college discipline. Those investigations, as well as investigations into the protest prior to the start of the live stream, are ongoing.

As we made clear in the immediate aftermath of the violence, FIRE stands ready to defend the right of any student or faculty member to peacefully protest any idea or speaker. But using the power of the mob to silence a speaker, whether via shouting or violence, is flatly unacceptable. At colleges that value free expression, students who silence others should expect disciplinary consequences.

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