Campus Is Vandalized, With College Labeled ‘Racist’

Graffiti+appeared+Saturday+morning+in+eight+different+locations+on+campus%2C+including+on+Mead+Chapel%2C+the+college+bookstore%2C+and+a+sculpture+outside+of+Coffrin+Hall.+The+graffiti+was+removed+later+that+morning.
Graffiti appeared Saturday morning in eight different locations on campus, including on Mead Chapel, the college bookstore, and a sculpture outside of Coffrin Hall. The graffiti was removed later that morning.

Graffiti appeared Saturday morning in eight different locations on campus, including on Mead Chapel, the college bookstore, and a sculpture outside of Coffrin Hall. The graffiti was removed later that morning.

Elizabeth Zhou

Elizabeth Zhou

Graffiti appeared Saturday morning in eight different locations on campus, including on Mead Chapel, the college bookstore, and a sculpture outside of Coffrin Hall. The graffiti was removed later that morning.

By WILL DIGRAVIO

The Middlebury community woke up to widespread vandalism last Saturday, Oct. 14, after an unknown individual(s) spray-painted condemnations of the college at eight locations on campus.

One of the more notable examples occurred at Mead Chapel, where the word “racist” was spelled out across the six pillars at the building’s entrance. Outside Old Chapel, where the offices of senior college administrators are located, the vandal(s) spray-painted the word “shame” and a sad face. The phrase “F-ck Middlebury” was found spray-painted on the lawn in front of Hepburn Hall, and “I Hate Midd [sad face]” was found outside the college bookstore.

“At this point, we haven’t identified who is responsible for the vandalism,” college spokesman Bill Burger told The Campus. “We are in touch with the Middlebury Police Department and they have agreed to help in the investigation.”

The vandalism comes during one of the more turbulent times in recent college history, and at a time when community members have expressed disappointment in the college’s handling of issues related to race and class.

“The graffiti that was left, presumably, by members of our community on various buildings and public spaces this past weekend sends a clear and important message: We, as a community, have not done a good enough job in making people who feel marginalized and excluded welcome at Middlebury,” said Kyle Wright ’19.5, who co-chairs the Community Council.

“That is a fact that we must collectively reckon with. This consideration of our shortcomings should be the primary focus in moving forward from this instance of vandalism,” he said.

In March, protesters here prevented Charles Murray from delivering a lecture after labeling him a racist and white nationalist. Last month, The Campus reported that Addis Fouche-Channer ’17 filed an official complaint with the college alleging she was racially profiled in the wake of the protest. The college disputes her account, even though a judicial officer had cleared her of any wrongdoing last spring.

After The Campus report, Middlebury Faculty for an Inclusive Community, a coalition that formed in the wake of the Murray protest, called on the administration to do more.

“It is not just about taking responsibility in a broad and general sense, which President Patton has done repeatedly,” the faculty members wrote. “It is about demonstrating the humble learning that comes from admitting specific mistakes, and highlighting how we can and will do better for our students going forward.”

On Friday, The Campus published a letter to the editor written by math professor Michael Olinick that said a professor of color was racially profiled while attempting to enter her office earlier this year. That letter is reprinted on page three of this week’s issue of The Campus.

“It is especially distressing that although this incident was reported promptly, the professor states that the college administration has been slow to respond, and while it regards the office’s behavior as ‘unacceptable,’ it refuses to recognize it as racial profiling,” Olinick said.

According to Nia Robinson ’19, who served last year as co-president of the Black Student Union, these problems are institutional.

“From my perspective, it seems like the administration ignores those issues until they can’t anymore. That’s why I think things like graffiti and protests happen. Maybe they do pay attention, but don’t think there is anything they can do,” she said.

“I think it takes looking at Midd as an institution first, realizing it was made for and by rich white people, and will continue to be that way, no matter how many students of color we pump through here.”

In an op-ed submission published in this week’s issue of The Campus, College President Laurie L. Patton acknowledged that the administration needs to do more.

“Racism is present at Middlebury, and it will not be tolerated. We must come together as a community to address it,” Patton said. “We also need a comprehensive approach to this problem, at all levels, beginning with the administration.”

Regarding the graffiti, Wright said it is important to note the burden it places on other members of the college community.

“This graffiti does not affect our college administration in the way it does members of Facilities Services, for example, who are the staff responsible for cleaning graffiti off of our buildings,” Wright said. “Indeed, it impacts those groups very inequitably, which I’m sure was not among the intentions of the community members who performed the graffiti.”

According to Burger, fourteen members of the facilities staff cleaned the graffiti from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. Additional work had to be done on Monday. Four members of the facilities staff came in to work despite it being their day off.

On that same day, a memorial service for Juana Gamero de Coca, a Spanish professor, was scheduled to take place in Mead Chapel. Burger said the staff prioritized cleaning that location first.

“We’re deeply appreciative for the efforts and skill of the members of our staff who worked that morning — some on their day off — to remove the work of the vandals,” Burger said.

Going forward, Wright said the administration should use this as an opportunity to address these issues.

“A comprehensive response on behalf of the administration regarding the concerns raised by this graffiti is overdue” he said. “Perhaps there are equally effective formats to convey that message that do not put undue burden on the college staff — such as members of Facilities Services — who, I believe, are not directly implicated in those concerns.”

 

Editor’s Note: Nia Robinson is now an opinion editor of this paper. She had no role other than providing comment in this article.

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About the Writer
WILL DIGRAVIO, Editor in Chief
Will DiGravio ’19 is editor in chief. He previously served as managing editor, news editor, SGA correspondent, and senior news reporter. DiGravio is pursuing a degree in Film & Media Culture and has completed minors in English & American Literatures and Political Science. During the summer of 2018 he worked as a reporter covering trending...
21 Comments

21 Responses to “Campus Is Vandalized, With College Labeled ‘Racist’”

  1. Georgery on October 19th, 2017 4:49 pm

    I can’t see how the graffiti artists’ burdened facility workers. The administration did so, by ordering them to clean up the art. Why not leave it on the walls until students see fit to remove it themselves once the issues are satisfactorily addressed?

  2. Rev on October 20th, 2017 1:53 pm

    “Artist”? Whoever did that is a vandal and is now a criminal.

    That garbage needs to be taken down. It’s a beautiful school, these kids don’t need to make it look like a ghetto.

    So sad to see what’s happening at some of our schools. These coddled kids will not survive in the real world, after college. So shameful to see how desperate kids are to play victim instead of create opportunities for themselves.

  3. William Meezan on October 20th, 2017 8:05 pm

    Middlebury called they want Meezan’s shirt back!

  4. Tom Bosworth on October 21st, 2017 11:40 am

    “I can’t see how the graffiti artists’ burdened facility workers.”

    If you can say that with a straight face, you should demand your tuition back.

  5. Really? on October 20th, 2017 1:16 am

    Are you serious? The only focus of the school’s “leadership” should be the damage to school property. If the people who broke the law are caught, they should be expelled, if they’re students, fired if they’re employees and obligate to pay for the damage and clean up.

    Imagine if the graffiti was something else. I am willing to bet neither the “president” nor the BSU would defend this.

    Grow up and use your voice. Don’t do bad things.

  6. Midd Majority Afraid to speak up on October 20th, 2017 11:31 am

    Where is the mention and instruction that this behavior is cowardly, wrong, never justified and should not be tolerated??

  7. George Schirtzinger '73 on October 20th, 2017 12:47 pm

    The supine and cowardly response of Patton and cadre to the Murray fiasco and assault against Alison Stanger (“war on women”, anyone?) was a low point.

    The later, hopelessly craven, “statement of policy” indicated the community wants a deeper hole.

    Well, now you have it.

    Given the statements of Ms. Robinson, it is apparent some people are digging deeper yet.

  8. The Alumni on October 20th, 2017 1:51 pm

    The embarrassment and idiocy rolls on. Please continue to talk down to and about those who earn an hourly wage. It shows the elitist sophomoric bias that has made that once glorious college on the hill a national embarrassment. You worry about inclusion. We do not think it means what you think it means.

  9. Robert Curr '95 on October 31st, 2017 3:08 pm

    Middlebury finds itself in deep discord and disagreement both within and without.

    I personally stand with the brave students who stood up to the college commons being usurped to give further voice to an individual who maligns certain sub-sections of the campus population and who had already been allowed to speak on campus.

    I also condemn the anonymous defacing of the Middlebury campus.

    That said, there are intermediary measures to be taken that might move us all in a positive direction.

    Here, I point to anonymous sniping and trolling of the campus newspaper.

    I’ve specifically chosen to respond here as a response to an entity that refers to itself as “The Alumni”.

    “The Alumni” has been holding court here for some months without challenge.

    And who is he/are they? One thing is for certain: “The Alumni” is not THE Alumni.

    The Alumni speaking for me gives me a very bad taste in my mouth.

    The Alumni, had it any convictions to stand behind, could identify itself and face the justice students who opposed the Murray lecture faced with honor.

    The Alumni may be a student and not an alumnus.

    The Alumni may have never even attended Middlebury.

    Whatever the case might be, the Campus newspaper ought not be a pace for randoms to hold court.

    Moreover, there are oodles of anonymous places on the net where you can name yourself Flamebait and anonymously spew to your heart’s desire.

    Enough.

    End this.

    Have people who’d like to offer their thoughts register and be a known quantity.

  10. The Alumni on November 3rd, 2017 10:51 am

    Maybe you should pay attention the doxxing of students at Reed to understand the anonymity . We are not singular and we are not small. Please undermine our credibility here though. It is not as if anonymous critics don’t have their place in American debate. Just ask Publius. Go on defending the assault and battery of a female professor on campus. You sound fun.

  11. Kimbo Slice on October 20th, 2017 4:59 pm

    Quick, Everyone chant “DIVERSITY IS OUR STRENGTH!”

  12. Geurgey on October 20th, 2017 5:12 pm

    As Orwell said, the oppressed gotta break the rules to survive. Otherwise y’all will never listen.

    Saying that facilities suffer from it is simply a spin – absurd and blind of the grievances at hand.

  13. Tom Bosworth on October 21st, 2017 11:54 am

    Middlebury students are so oppressed that they are in the top 1/10 of 1% most privileged in the entire world.

    Poor bunnies should get a good spanking and be put in a corner until they learn how to behave as adults. Or simply expelled as ‘not college material’ and sued for damages they have done, including the cost of clean up, the long term damage of paint -and paint remover- on porous stone, and the pain and suffering inflicted on the Middlebury community.

    Make them understand that vandalism comes with a personal cost and they may discover the benefits of intellectual debate.

  14. Judy Roesset on October 20th, 2017 6:05 pm

    Why is blame for this destructive behavior being cast on the College instead on those vandals illegally destroying the appearance of some lovely buildings??? If they hate Midd, why not leave it to those who love it? Isn’t this sort of behavior just creating more dissension instead of aiming for unity and friendship with all?

  15. Tom Bosworth on October 21st, 2017 11:57 am

    “why not leave it to those who love it?”

    They don’t want to leave it in peace: they want to control it. They appear to be succeeding.

  16. Kosaku on October 21st, 2017 11:14 am

    I don’t tolerate the vandalism at campus, at the same time, I cannot ignore the message behind these graffitis because I find there is invisible suffering among this beautiful community. I would like to share two quotes from Susan Sontag’s “Regarding the Pain of Others.”

    “What does it mean to protest suffering, as distinct from acknowledging it?”

    “Our sympathy proclaims our innocence as well as our impotence. To that extent, it can be (for all our good intentions) as impertinent – if not an inappropriate- response. To set aside the sympathy we extend to others beset by war and murderous politics for a reflection on how our privileges are located on the same map as their suffering, and may – in ways we might prefer not to imagine – be linked to their suffering, as the wealth of some may imply the destitution of others, is a task for which the painful, stirring images supply only an initial spark.”

  17. Susan McKibben on October 21st, 2017 1:35 pm

    I fail to see how this behavior solves any inequalities or injustices. The only route to those goals would seem to be working together with the college and student bodies.

  18. Russ Nelson on October 21st, 2017 9:29 pm

    Nia says “realizing it was made for and by rich white people, and will continue to be that way, no matter how many students of color we pump through here.”

    and then Laurie says “Racism is present at Middlebury, and it will not be tolerated. ”

    Sounds to me like Nia is the racist, and Laurie is tolerating her. This cannot end well.

  19. Carl Peter Klapper on October 22nd, 2017 1:42 am

    I come in support of the Vandals against their being maligned by the racist, slaver forces of democracy. This Wikipedia articles compiles the history of the Vandals as they were chased across Europe, eventually settling in Africa. After they fended off an attack by the Democratic Empire of Rome, the Vandals were compelled to sack Rome to prevent further acts of democratic aggression. For this well-justified defensive act, the Vandals have been unjustly associated with the defacement of public buildings and grounds, while the pernicious democratic ideology and society is excused and even applauded.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vandals

  20. David Arneson on October 22nd, 2017 8:16 am

    Vandals?
    He might have just as well called them “Super Predators”!
    Who would send their child to such a racist institution?

  21. Arch Stanton on October 23rd, 2017 1:14 pm

    Regrettable your coverage drew attention to the exact content of the vandalism, thus rewarding the vandals with a soapbox.




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Campus Is Vandalized, With College Labeled ‘Racist’