At times, the culture at Middlebury can feel amorphous. We see hundreds of students gathering on the town green for a midday Climate Strike; we hear our friends gripe about not being able to book a counseling appointment; we sense that some students gravitate to substances more than others. But these phenomena can often be lost to the four-year generational turnover that is endemic to college.
So often, we exist in silos of social groups, unable to tap into what our peers — who are by proximity, usually, so close to us — are thinking or feeling or doing. Are students looking for romantic relationships? What is the last social media app people look at when going to bed? Are students regularly skipping classes? Do friend groups coalesce around a shared identity?
These were a few of our guiding questions as we embarked on the creation of the second annual Zeitgeist survey, a project that aims to bridge the gap between data analysis and journalism by surveying students through dozens of questions. The results do not reflect the entire student body, with 49% of students filling out the Zeitgeist survey this year (for contrast, last year we had responses from 47% of students). Our hope is that every year this percentage will mount. And with an ever-growing pool of respondents, our ability to report on stories that matter to students will only improve.
We hope that in these challenging times for our school and our nation, you will engage with our findings and continue to learn more about the student body at Middlebury.
Introduction by Amelia Pollard ‘20.5.