Racism and Responsibility


In the last few weeks, administrators have heard numerous new reports, both on and off campus, of racism. Racism is present at Middlebury, and it will not be tolerated. We must come together as a community to address it. I argued in my inaugural address that inclusivity must be an everyday ethic — not a “problem” to be solved, but a form of excellence to be pursued.

Building this everyday ethic means addressing our own racism first. That task will look unlike anything we have seen before. All of us need to understand what people of color are experiencing, and we need to live with and respond to one another differently.

We also need a comprehensive approach to this problem, at all levels, beginning with the administration. We, as an administration, need to do better in leading this effort. Our offices must communicate more effectively with each other, and with faculty, staff and students. And we need the help of the community. We need your thoughts and ideas.

I have asked my senior leadership team to work with the community to develop a multi-pronged approach to these issues, which exist at all levels of our life together — in our classrooms, our dormitories and our surrounding environment. That approach will involve short, medium and long-term solutions. And we need everyone’s alliance and help to make sure that we stay true to the task.

We cannot be a complete community if there are people here who do not feel that they belong. Our responsibility is to welcome everyone equally. That welcome must look different than it ever has before. It cannot be the welcome of 2007, or 1997, but of 2017. The vitality of our community and the full participation of all of its members depends upon it.