Do Better Middlebury

By Ben Arquit, Middlebury Student

“What happened at your school?” This was the question I faced repeatedly from my family and friends in the days following the Charles Murray talk. The protesters seem to be happy at what they accomplished, but the overwhelmingly negative reaction to the chaos of this past Thursday comes not only from ’overdramatic media looking for a good story,’ but also from nearly everyone I have talked to from outside this school from a wide variety of political backgrounds– Republicans, Democrats and Independents. This shouldn’t be considered a right vs. left; what occurred at Middlebury on Thursday was a blatant disregard for one of the bedrock principles of this country that has guided us for the last 238 years, one that our servicemen and women die to protect.

 

I am ashamed to attend an institution where an angry mob of bullies and closed minded protesters can shut down a talk and show a complete disregard for freedom of speech. The fact that an esteemed professor, who I had the honor of taking a class with, was physically and verbally assaulted for simply moderating a conversation is disgraceful. Professor Stanger spent a month preparing to intellectually take down Charles Murray and his misguided, bigoted, sexist views. Instead of having the opportunity to allow her and students to ask Dr. Murray pointed questions and challenge him intellectually, the protestors resorted to bully tactics.

 

The irony is that these same people who refused to even let a conversation happen are the same people who advocate for “safe spaces,” “inclusiveness,” and “open-mindedness:” The hypocrisy is undeniable. They did a disservice to the students who waited hours to watch this conversation, the organizers of the event, and the school as a whole. I was also horrified to see the Middlebury Police Department blatantly refuse to arrest people who maliciously pulled fire alarms and assaulted others. This utter refusal to enforce the laws continued when an angry mob was able to physically assault Professor Stanger, block the car she was in from leaving and damage the car. This is a degradation to the department and anyone else who had the responsibility of protecting Stanger and our guest speaker. Protesting is a right bestowed to all of us and should be used whenever necessary, but this kind of lawlessness and disregard for the rule of law cannot and will not be tolerated. I am happy that the Middlebury Police Department has decided to investigate what occurred and I expect those responsible will be brought to justice.

 

I applaud those who were brave enough to stand up for free speech, including President Patton, Professor Stanger, and Professor Johnson, among others. I also applaud the students who stood up for free speech both in Wilson Hall and around campus. We need to make it clear that bully tactics will never work to shut down freedom of speech and the free exchange of ideas. The way to win battles with Mr. Murray and people like him is to intellectually pick apart his argument, not to refuse to let them speak. I really hope that this school takes a look at itself and realizes what just happened. We need to make sure nothing like this ever happens again because right now we have shown that this school is one of censorship and closed mindedness that does not foster constructive discourse. Do better Middlebury.