The Protest

BENJY RENTON
Students look onto the parade, protesting in peaceful silence.

Student demonstrators dressed in all black with duct tape covering their mouths and raising signs which read, “We believe survivors, Midd should too” and “Green Dot is not enough,” met the participants of the first-ever Panther Day parade as they rounded the corner of the CFA front lawn. 

The demonstrators stood shoulder to shoulder in protest of how the college handles cases of sexual assault and treats survivors.

Green Dot is not enough.”

“We organized this protest to focus on the way that Middlebury College has historically, through its reporting processes, not supported survivors of sexual assault in ways that we believe it should,” Taite Shomo ’20.5 said.

When asked what the college can do to improve how it treats survivors, Shomo stressed the value of implementing a judicial process that is not retraumatizing to victims and the use of restorative justice practices. Shomo’s critiques echoed concerns from students this past January, when a student posted a list on Facebook accusing 35 students of sexual misconduct. 

After seeing the protest, Baishakhi Taylor, interim vice president for academic affairs and dean of students, recognized the protesters’ concerns. 

“I think what they’re demonstrating, what the students are protesting is really important in this current national climate,” Taylor said.  “It is really important that we give everyone a voice and listen carefully, and, to me, it’s very important to also engage in what the students want. If there are things that we can do better, we should look into trying to do better. So, I give them a lot of credit for working with us, for organizing, for demonstrating, and for letting us understand what’s important to them.” 

If everyone belongs here, students who are protesting here belong here just as much.”

— Baishakhi Taylor

According to Taylor, the protesters had as much right to be there as the participants in the parade.

“If everyone belongs here, students who are protesting here belong here just as much,” she said. 

Christian Kummer ’22, another protester, also commented on their desire to call attention to the issue in broader terms. 

“Sexual assault and rape is stigmatized, and often silenced, and this is a very public platform,” Kummer said. “I want people to be able to see that just because everything’s fun and we’re celebrating Midd that there are still issues that need to be combatted, especially around this topic and how it’s treated on campus.”

Kummer said although he was directly protesting the inefficacy of the college’s primary sexual education tool Green Dot, the protesters and the paraders weren’t entirely at odds with one another. In fact, participants in the parade also expressed support for the protesters. 

…there are still issues that need to be combatted, especially around this topic and how it’s treated on campus.”

— Christian Kummer '22

“Yes, I love Middlebury, I love being a student here, I am grateful that I have the opportunity to have an education like this, but I think with the resources we have, we should be able to better help our students, better protect our students and support our students,” said Annie Blalock ’20.5, the head of Feminist Action at Middlebury (FAM). 

“We were here representing FAM, but we were here representing FAM to show our support for that protest,” Blalock added.

Spencer Royston ’21, a participant in the Atwater Commons group who marched in the parade, was grateful for the demonstration.

“It was very meaningful because we were all parading, being loud and everything, and it was important to remember that there are things that aren’t so great on our campus and also in the nation,” he said. “And so that was just a striking reminder that it’s not all trumpets and drums, that we need to be silent every once in awhile and think about it. I also think that it was well done, like it wasn’t obtrusive in any way.”

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