Setting the Record Straight on JusTalks

By Guest Contributor

While we appreciate your inclusion of our initiative in the Campus this past week, we were perturbed by the narrative that was constructed about JusTalks in the article, well-intentioned as it may have been.

In Hudson’s interview, he used neither the adjective “generic” nor “pedantic” to describe his feelings about JusTalks. He did, however, express concerns that the event would be misunderstood, as we fear it may have been from the article published in the Campus.

Let us first explain what JusTalks is by describing what it is not: JusTalks is not an exercise in political correctness and platitudes about identity or privilege; it’s not a day for social justice activists to pat themselves on the back; it’s not what is going to diversify the Middlebury community. Rather, JusTalks is premised on the idea that we, individually and collectively, benefit from communal self-reflection.

JusTalks was founded on the notion that nobody should graduate from Middlebury without having the opportunity to explore and reflect on societal and personal identity issues. It’s a way to prepare students to “participate fully in a vibrant and diverse academic community” and to “learn to engage the world,” as Middlebury’s mission statement affirms.

JusTalks is growing from your ideas. Feedback collected from students all over campus — from clubs, sports teams, social houses and freshman halls — defines what JusTalks is and will be.

We are proud to say that for years to come, this event — intended to bring our community together by shattering the preconceptions that divide us — will be a requisite part of the Middlebury education for all incoming first-years. Many of us wish we could have gone through it when we arrived. Perhaps some of us would have been more comfortable saying, “I belong here.”

Remember Midd Uncensored? Entire personal histories of hardship (“I have lost a family member”), of opportunity (“I am the first person in my family to go to college”) and of hidden identities (“I am grounded in my faith”) were shared in an instant by standing or raising a hand. Admit it, there was some point when you got chills. That wasn’t corny. That was real.

So what is JusTalks? It’s 200+ people getting together to talk about the things that keep us up at night or get us through the day. Starting this January, the event is open to students from any year. Come check it out: you’re invited.

Written by the JUSTALKS TEAM