Middlebury College

Location: Middlebury, Vermont
Website: http://www.middlebury.edu
Type: Private
Federal Circuit: 2nd Circuit

Speech Code Rating

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.

At present, FIRE has not been involved in any cases at this school.

Red Light Policies

  • Middlebury College Handbook: Anti-Harassment/Discrimination Policy

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 19, 2016

    Other examples 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;

    » Read More

  • Middlebury College Handbook: General Conduct

    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: September 19, 2016

    Behavior that violates common standards of decency, fails to comply with community laws or statutes, or demonstrates contempt for the generally accepted values of the intellectual community is prohibited.

    » Read More


Yellow Light Policies
  • Middlebury College Handbook: Anti-Harassment/Discrimination Policy

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: September 19, 2016

    Harassment is defined as verbal, written, visual, or physical conduct based on or motivated by an individual’s actual or perceived sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, race, creed, color, place of birth, ancestry, ethnicity, religion, national origin, age, disability, marital status, or other characteristics as defined and protected by law in the location where a particular program is operating, that has the purpose or effect, from the point of view of a reasonable person, of objectively and substantially:

    a. undermining and detracting from or interfering with an individual’s educational or work performance or access to Middlebury resources; or

    b. creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational, work, or living environment.

    Harassment 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 as defined and protected by applicable law.

    » Read More

  • Middlebury College Handbook: Responsible Use of Computing and Network Facilities

    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: September 19, 2016

    Abusive or threatening messages to others can be prosecuted as harassment.

    All users of our computing and networking facilities bear the responsibility to avoid libel, obscenity, undocumented allegations, attacks on personal integrity, and harassment.

    » Read More

  • Middlebury College Handbook: Student Organizations and Activities- Freedom of Inquiry and Expression

    Speech Code Category: Other Speech Codes
    Last updated: September 19, 2016

    Student organizations bear full responsibility for arranging and financing any Department of Public Safety services that may be necessary in connection with controversial speakers.

    » Read More

  • Middlebury College Handbook: Demonstrations and Protests

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: September 19, 2016

    Anyone 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.

    » Read More


Green Light Policies
  • College students violently protesting conservative speakers tend to come from wealthy families, study finds

    March 21, 2017

    By Staff at Fox News The recent wave of protests – sometimes violent – at U.S. colleges and universities that have forced the cancellation of conservative speakers’ lectures take place predominantly at liberal schools, many of whose students are progressive and come from wealthy families, the Brookings Institute said in a new study… Read more here.

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  • Entire Campus Should Be Safe Space for Free Speech

    March 16, 2017

    By Robert Holland at Townhall In a simpler age, one major argument for a young scholar going to college was the exposure he or she would receive to a wide spectrum of viewpoints, vigorously and freely debated. Sadly, many institutions of higher learning now seem determined to protect students from free speech, especially if controversial views run counter to progressive orthodoxy… Read more here.

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  • Are students at elite colleges more likely to protest controversial speakers?

    March 15, 2017

    By Chris Quintana at Chronicle of Higher of Education Shortly after a planned talk by the controversial sociologist Charles A. Murray was interrupted by violence this month at Middlebury College, some observers quickly condemned the small private institution in Vermont as an elitist haven incapable of tolerating challenging opinions. Read more here.

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  • Students at Elite Colleges are the Most Hysterically Opposed to Offensive Speech, Data Shows

    March 15, 2017

    By Robby Soave at Reason It seems the most privileged students in the country are also the most fragile. Highly expensive, elite college campuses are more likely to play host to the kind of censorious madness on display at Middlebury College two weeks ago… Read more here.

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  • The obliteration of free speech and civility on campus

    March 13, 2017

    By Al Maurer At Communities Digital News On March 2nd, at Middlebury College, Vermont, perhaps 100 protesters mobbed Dr. Charles Murray, preventing him from delivering a speech and injuring a university professor. One month previously, protests against conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos caused UC Berkeley to cancel his speech. The university sustained $100,000 worth of damage… Read more here.

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  • How violent protests at Middlebury and Berkeley became a warning for other schools

    March 13, 2017

    By Katie Reily at TIME Recent student demonstrations that escalated into violence have fueled a national debate over free speech on college campuses, forcing universities to rethink how to effectively prepare for controversial speakers — and the accompanying protests. Read more here.

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  • Conservatives: As left gets violent, never be itching for a fight

    March 8, 2017

    By Tom Knighton at PJ Media With the two incidents of violence in Berkeley — riots that occurred at a scheduled Milo Yiannopoulos talk and at a pro-Trump rally — and the mob attack at Middlebury College, it’s clear that something alarming is happening on college campuses in this country. While American universities have been bastions of progressivism for some time, the move from activist to combatant is particularly worrisome… Read more here.

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  • Attention, student protesters: use your words

    March 6, 2017

    By Megan McArdle at Bloomberg Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you. Or so we were told by our mothers. But events on both sides of continent in recent weeks seem to belie that old adage. A new generation of protesters has come to the conclusion that words do hurt — and that therefore, extreme measures, up to and including physical force, are justified to keep them from being spoken… Read more here.

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  • The ideology behind intolerant college students

    March 6, 2017

    By Stephen L. Carter at Bloomberg Here’s what’s scariest about the last week’s incident at Middlebury College, where protesters shouted down the social scientist Charles Murray and injured a professor who was escorting him from the venue: It felt like an everyday event. So common has such odious behavior become that it’s tempting to greet it with a shrug… Read more here.

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  • Out of Balance

    April 14, 2016

    By Jake New at Inside Higher Ed Last week, the California Court of Appeals ruled against the University of Southern California in a lawsuit brought by a student suspended for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman during group sex… Read more here.

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  • Court Wins for Accused

    November 5, 2015

    By Jake New at Inside Higher Ed Last week, Brandon Austin, a former college basketball player, filed a lawsuit against the University of Oregon for $7.5 million, arguing that administrators there violated his rights when they suspended him over his alleged involvement in a gang rape. Austin was able to transfer to a community college and play basketball there last season, but has since left to (so far, unsuccessfully) pursue a professional basketball career. In the lawsuit, Austin claims that the punishment caused him emotional distress and lessened his chances of one day playing in the National Basketball Association. His […]

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  • For Students Accused Of Campus Rape, Legal Victories Win Back Rights

    October 15, 2015

    By Tovia Smith at National Public Radio College students can’t miss the warnings these days about the risk of campus sexual assault, but increasingly, some students are also taking note of what they perceive as a different danger. “Once you are accused, you’re guilty,” says Parker Oaks, one of several Boston University students stopped by NPR between classes. “We’re living in a society where you’re guilty before innocent now.” Xavier Adsera, another BU student, sounds a similar theme. “We used to not be fair to women on this issue,” he says. “Now we’re on the other extreme, not being fair […]

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  • College’s Hypocrisy on Standard of Evidence When It comes to Accused Students

    September 22, 2015

    By Ashe Schow at Washington Examiner  A Vermont college was ordered to halt the expulsion of a student who was expelled for sexual assault without being given a hearing. But what the college argued in its defense was rather interesting. Middlebury College used a “preponderance of evidence” standard (meaning campus administrators have to be just 50.01 percent sure an assault was committed) even before the Department of Education mandated colleges to lower the bar on proof of charges against students. But when it came to defending itself from this student’s lawsuit, the college demanded the higher standard of “clear and […]

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  • Following violent protest, Middlebury begins issuing sanctions

    May 5, 2017

    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 […]

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  • Murray at Middlebury: the cost of disrupting ‘provocative’ speech

    April 18, 2017

    Cornell University professors of human development Wendy M. Williams and Stephen J. Ceci report in The New York Times’ SundayReview column “Gray Matter” on an intriguing experiment they ran using the text of political scientist Charles Murray’s talk at Middlebury College. Wondering if his views were as “provocative” as the response seemed to indicate, they decided to put the speech he gave (by livestream, from another room, after he was disrupted from speaking in the original venue) to the test: [W]e transcribed Mr. Murray’s speech and — without indicating who wrote it — sent it to a group of 70 […]

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  • More than 100 Middlebury faculty sign ‘Statement of Principles’ on free inquiry

    March 16, 2017

    Commentators have rightly wondered how the state of discourse on campus has deteriorated such that Middlebury College professor Allison Stanger was injured earlier this month during protests sparked by Charles Murray’s invitation to speak. It’s easy to fixate on what went wrong, but we should also note what went right in a potential watershed moment for free speech on campus. As we first noted last week, Middlebury faculty wrote and circulated a statement on free inquiry in the wake of the Murray incident. Now, 114 Middlebury faculty members — approximately a third of the faculty — have endorsed it. This impressive […]

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  • Middlebury faculty speak out

    March 7, 2017

    Yesterday evening, in the wake of last week’s attack on invited speaker Charles Murray and Middlebury professor Allison Stanger, the talk’s moderator, a group of Middlebury College faculty shared an open letter setting forth a set of “core principles that seem to us unassailable in the context of higher education within a free society.” As of this afternoon, 50 members of Middlebury’s faculty had signed on to the principles. The principles affirm students’ right to peacefully protest speakers with whom they disagree, but roundly reject both the use of a heckler’s veto and many of the common arguments made in […]

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  • The death of liberty on campus? Some reflections on Middlebury

    March 6, 2017

    By now, you have likely read about last week’s debacle at Middlebury College, where violent protests shut down a speech by academic and author Charles Murray and resulted in physical injury to Allison Stanger, a Middlebury professor who was there to moderate the Q&A portion of the event. Both Murray and Stanger have since publicly shared their accounts of what happened. Stanger wrote that she “feared for her life,” and Murray talked about the moment that “protesters surrounded the car, banging on the sides and the windows and rocking the car, climbing onto the hood.” In the days leading up […]

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  • Violent Middlebury protesters injure professor, force invited speaker to flee lecture hall

    March 3, 2017

    A successful heckler’s veto and an injury to a professor: that’s what academic and writer Charles Murray was met with when he arrived at Vermont’s Middlebury College yesterday to deliver a public lecture. Inside Higher Ed reports: Murray had been invited by Middlebury’s student group affiliated with the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank at which Murray is a scholar. Many of his writings are controversial, but perhaps none more than The Bell Curve, a book that linked intelligence and race and that has been widely condemned by many social scientists (even as Murray has been supported by others). Prior […]

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  • Middlebury Student Paper Condemns Judicial Scrutiny of College’s Disciplinary Processes

    October 5, 2015

    In a shocking editorial published last week, the staff of The Middlebury Campus railed against the ability of “outside individuals” like lawyers and judges to demand basic fairness from Middlebury College’s disciplinary processes. The editorial followed a Vermont federal court’s decision to halt Middlebury’s expulsion of a student accused of sexual misconduct, pending further legal proceedings. The court issued a preliminary injunction, which may be granted only when a party can show both that they have a likelihood of success on the merits and that they would suffer irreparable harm without the injunction. The staff of The Middlebury Campus is […]

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  • Federal Court Halts Middlebury’s Expulsion of Student Accused of Sexual Misconduct

    September 22, 2015

    Last week, a Vermont federal court halted Middlebury College’s expulsion of a student accused of sexual misconduct, pending further legal proceedings. The court issued a preliminary injunction, which may be granted only when a party can show both that they have a likelihood of success on the merits and that they would suffer irreparable harm without the injunction. According to the plaintiff, he was accused of sexual misconduct by a non-Middlebury student while on a study-abroad program in the fall of 2014. Using its own policies and procedures, the study-abroad program held a hearing on those allegations and found the […]

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  • The State of Free Speech on Campus: Middlebury College

    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 […]

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  • Middlebury Update: Students Guilty, But No Punishment for Hoax Press Release

    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 […]

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  • At Middlebury, Embarrassing the Administration Has a Cost

    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 […]

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  • ‘MiddBlog’ on Middlebury College’s Double Standard

    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 […]

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  • Middlebury College Administration Violates Its Own Speech Code

    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 […]

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  • May 2009: Middlebury College

    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 […]

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  • Middlebury’s President on the ‘Value of Discomfort’

    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 […]

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  • Due Process at Middlebury

    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.

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