The Middlebury Campus

Sophia McDermott-Hughes

Sophia McDermott-Hughes, News Editor

Sophia McDermott-Hughes ’23 is a news editor.

She previously served as a senior news writer.

McDermott-Hughes is an anthropology major and is studying Spanish and Arabic. In 2018 and 2019, McDermott-Hughes worked as a reporter on the Since Parkland Project, a partnership with the Trace and the Miami Herald, which chronicled the lives of the more than 1,200 children killed by gun violence in the United States in the year since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida.

Twitter: @Sophiadm_h

All content by Sophia McDermott-Hughes
The college announced today that Smita Ruzicka will serve as the next vice president of student affairs. She comes to Middlebury from Johns Hopkins University, where she served as the dean of student life.

Smita Ruzicka named as next vice president of student affairs

June 10, 2021

The college has appointed Smita Ruzicka as the new vice president for student affairs (VPSA). The position has remained vacant since the previous VPSA, Baishakhi Taylor, left in April 2020. Along...

Part 1: Faculty & Staff

May 20, 2021

The Faculty and Staff section focuses on increasing hiring equity, training new and existing faculty and staff in DEI practices, and building community among new hires to increase retention. Many view...

The college published the five-section action plan in September, with initiatives scheduled for completion throughout the next few years.

College tackles multi-year anti-racism and DEI action plan

May 20, 2021
This Middlebury Campus investigation reports on the progress of the initiatives in the Action Plan with a particular focus on those with a proposed timeline of the 2020-2021 academic year. This project is split into five sections — one for each the Action Plan — and is the product of dozens of interviews with staff, students, committees and administrators.
Dining hall staff adapted this recipe for Yukgaejang, or Korean Beef stew, from a family recipe to one that serves 280 people and requires 88 lbs of beef.

Breaking bread: Dining halls lay the foundations for community life at Middlebury

May 13, 2021
The Campus spoke to Atwater Commons Chef Ian Martin and Ross Commons Chef Christopher Laframboise about how the dining halls function and how they view their roles as cornerstones of the campus community.
Alejandra prepares all food by hand out of a make-shift kitchen in her garage.

Behind Sunday Tacos, Alejandra savors home from Mexico to Middlebury

May 6, 2021

Stuck on campus for the entire semester, many students long for home-cooked meals and the warm smile of someone preparing food just for them. Alejandra’s Tacos supplies both, accepting orders for...

April 29, 2021
Counseling Services has seen an uptick in student anxiety and depression, as students have struggled to cope with grief, academic pressure, and social isolation in the midst of a pandemic.

Students struggle to keep afloat as isolation, workload and grief compound

April 15, 2021
One in every six Vermont-based Middlebury students sought counseling appointments last semester, and intake forms have displayed a marked increase in signs of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts, according to Counseling Services.
Several on-campus buildings have been repurposed as quarantine and isolation housing this year including Adirondack House (above), which usually functions as the Center for Careers and Internships.

Students quarantined for Covid-19 violations regardless of evidence of exposure

April 15, 2021
Under a policy that was never officially announced, students can be placed in quarantine for breaking certain Covid-19 health guidelines — even if they have had no known exposure to the virus.
The Mountain Club was not allowed to drive to activities during the fall, so they ran trips nearby including canoeing on Otter Creek and hiking along the Trail Around Middlebury.

[Photo] Student organizations face membership challenges with pandemic programming

April 1, 2021

The Mountain Club was not allowed to drive to activities during the fall, so they ran trips nearby including canoeing on Otter Creek and hiking along the Trail Around Middlebury.

Of the 1,511 students who participated, The Marriage Pact formed 625 romantic and 130 platonic matches. One lonely student was left matchless.

A match made in algorithm: 60% of students participate in the ‘Middlebury Marriage Pact’

March 18, 2021
The Marriage Pact — a project originally launched out of a Stanford economics class in 2017 — consists of an algorithm that uses a 50-question survey designed to find each participant’s optimal romantic — or platonic — match.
Which Way Home? International students navigate the pandemic world

Which Way Home? International students navigate the pandemic world

March 9, 2021

When Middlebury suddenly announced it was shuttering the campus on March 10, 2020, international students were faced with a difficult decision. Should they stay or should they go home? Where would...

In their January meeting, The Board of Trustees approved plans to balance the budget by fiscal year 2022, limit the endowment draw and amortize half of Middlebury’s outstanding debt.

Board of Trustees approves tuition hike, takes steps toward balanced budget

March 4, 2021
After a year of financial uncertainty amid the pandemic, the Trustees raised tuition by 2.5% and limited the endowment draw to 5% with the goal of the college operating at a surplus by fiscal year 2022.
Jack Langerman with his sister Jenny Langerman ’22 after she was admitted to Middlebury in fall 2017.

Jack Langerman ’19.5 memorialized through creation of Sports Innovation Lab internship

March 4, 2021
The Sports Innovation Lab, a sports marketing analytics startup, established an internship in honor of Jack Langerman ’19.5, who worked at the company for two summers and passed away this January.
After keeping the schools abroad closed for the fall with the hopes of opening up most schools for the following semester, Middlebury has cancelled all 16 of the programs for spring 2021.

Middlebury Schools Abroad project $3.5–3.7 million deficit

January 28, 2021
Although the Middlebury Schools Abroad have consistently turned a profit in years past, generating an annual surplus of roughly $1 million, closures in the fall and spring semesters have led the college to project a net loss for the schools this fiscal year.
Giuliani delivers remarks at the 2020 Republican National Convention, warning of crime and lawlessness in American cities.

College revokes Giuliani’s honorary degree

January 12, 2021

Middlebury revoked Rudolph Giuliani’s 2005 honorary Doctor of Laws degree today in light of his role in fomenting the violent insurrection at the United States Capitol on Jan. 6. Giuliani, President...

MiddTeleHealth, an online health care system new to campus this semester, is one more place where trans students have to worry about being misgendered.

‘Frustrating and demoralizing’: Trans students struggle to have preferred names recognized on Middlebury’s online systems

December 3, 2020
At Middlebury, trans students encounter challenges in trying to update the college’s online apparati to reflect their prefered names and pronouns.
Mara Strich ’22, currently holding the Miss Otter Creek title, will compete in the Miss Vermont competition next May.

Mara Strich ’22 competes for Miss Vermont as Miss Otter Creek

November 19, 2020
Cooped up with her family in upstate New York and facing an interminable period of quarantine boredom, Mara Strich ’22 searched for a project she could focus her restless energy on. She decided to apply to the Miss Vermont competition in early September and was accepted a week later.
With election day in the rearview mirror, BIPOC students reflect on feelings of apprehension, fear, discomfort and anxiety that characterized this election and continue to define the nation.

Students of color face increased fear as presidential election comes to a head

November 12, 2020
“Being Brown in America, you always have to be careful”: During election week, as the nation waited on edge to hear the results of the presidential election, many of Middlebury’s students of color feared that tensions could explode into racialized violence on campus.
Students and local residents held signs near the edge of the green facing South Pleasant Street amid honks and waves from passing drivers.

[Photo] Middlebury residents, students mobilize in support of counting every vote

November 12, 2020

Students and local residents held signs near the edge of the green facing South Pleasant Street amid honks and waves from passing drivers.

Angela Davis fielded questions from students about her early activism, her calls for replacing police and prisons with better institutions, and her positions on many progressive causes.

Angela Davis talks activism and action at Middlebury

November 5, 2020
“I want to create the framework for forms of justice that will be more compelling and that will help us rid our world of racist violence," said renowned activist Angela Davis in an event attended by nearly 500 people.
Unable to vote, non-citizen students watch election with bated breath

Unable to vote, non-citizen students watch election with bated breath

October 29, 2020
International and immigrant students who are unable to vote in the upcoming election have found ways to participate in an electoral process that will have substantial consequences on their future.
George Matthews Jr. sitting at the Middlebury carillion. He has been the man behind the bells for the past 35 years.

Behind the Mead Chapel bells, carillonneur George Matthew Jr. plays for passion and protest

October 22, 2020
George Matthew Jr. pursued his dream and has been playing the bells in the tower of Mead Chapel since 1985. He uses his platform to promote immigrant justice, racial equality and lift student morale.
Will Anderson ’20.5, who has worked in the dining hall since the fall of 2017, serves pasta.

Behind the counter: Dining staff face longer hours with fewer hands

October 1, 2020
Campus reporter joins the Proctor Dining Hall staff to get a peek into what the lives of staff and student workers look like during the age of Covid-19
Students hold signs at a protest demanding justice for Breonna Taylor.

Students protest grand jury verdict for officers who killed Breonna Taylor

October 1, 2020

Last Thursday, Kaila Thomas ’21 left her Russian class feeling a burning need to do something. The night before, the verdict was announced that none of the Louisville police officers who shot and...

Emma Luber (left) poses in her PPE

The essential workers among us: MiddKids on the frontlines

September 24, 2020

As states across the country issued stay-at-home orders last spring, essential workers carried on working and took on personal risks to keep the country functioning. Among their ranks were several Middlebury...

Rachael Zeller ’22 throws down an intimidating line of defense against a Mount Holyoke opponent during the Code Green tournament in the fall of 2019.

[Photo] No coaches, no contact, no competition: Club teams play on

September 24, 2020

Rachael Zeller ’22 throws down an intimidating line of defense against a Mount Holyoke opponent during the Code Green tournament in the fall of 2019.

To-go containers pile up in campus dumpsters, overwhelming the college’s compost facility.

Sustainability concerns pile up amid packaged meal protocols

September 17, 2020
“Middlebury does an amazing job prioritizing sustainability and the environment during a typical semester, this semester is not typical, and when the rubber hits the road health and safety has to come first.”
Middlebury's Main Street for MiddView Orientation last year.

Businesses report quarantine violations as first round of students return

August 20, 2020

Several local business owners reported seeing whom they suspected were college students wandering town and attempting to patronize their shops as Middlebury College welcomed its first crop of students...

COURTESY OF ANGELINA GOMES
Caption: Protestors flock to the streets in Boston in protest against police brutality and racial prejudice.

‘Injustice doesn’t have a schedule:’ Students join protests across the country

June 8, 2020
“I put my body on the line every time I [protest]. I put my mental health on the line every time I do this . . . I'm willing to risk it all," said Angelina Gomes '23. “And if I'm willing to risk it all, it is to burn this whole thing down.”
Protesters gathered against the Vietnam War during the March 1970 student strike.

“The memory hangs on”: 50 years later, activist alums talk anti-war strike

May 7, 2020
A student strike in 1970 catalyzed anti-war action in the years to follow, but many activists were excluded from the mainstream conversation.
The college announced on April 8 that it would adopt a test-optional admissions policy for the next three years.

With decision day on horizon, high school seniors try to get a sense of Midd, remotely

April 30, 2020
“I had to choose between making a financially sound decision or a decision that makes me happy,” said one perspective student. “I ended up choosing the latter.”
Queer love stories: a compilation

Queer love stories: a compilation

April 22, 2020
“Queer love is so beautiful and powerful and I'm so grateful that I get to experience it, whether romantically or platonically."
As Covid-19 spreads throughout Vermont, Middlebury is prepared to repurpose Chip Kenyon Arena to host a Department of Health mobile hospital unit in the event that coronavirus cases exceed Porter Medical Center’s current capacity.

Joining forces with town, Middlebury repurposes resources and offers support

April 2, 2020
The college is preparing its facilities to provide additional support to Porter Medical Center and the greater community.
Developing: Middlebury suspends all programs abroad and in Monterey

Developing: Middlebury suspends all programs abroad and in Monterey

March 13, 2020
As of Friday, March 13, all Middlebury programs abroad have been suspended for the spring semester due to travel concerns related to the coronavirus.
Students created a spreadsheet to help Middlebury community members navigate the indefinite suspension of classes.

Community-building amid coronavirus cancelations

March 11, 2020
Students created a "mutual aid spreadsheet" with resources to help community members navigate the suspension of classes due to coronavirus.

All schools abroad in Italy canceled due to coronavirus concerns

March 5, 2020
Middlebury canceled the three C.V. Starr Schools in Italy for the spring semester due to concerns over the coronavirus COVID-19. Assistant Director of International Programs Alessandra Capossela said the decision was prompted by concerns that students might face more difficulties leaving the country as the virus spreads and governments impose stricter travel travel regulations.

In low-turnout election, students vote to reduce size of senate, re-brand senators ‘representatives’

March 5, 2020
Students voted on Feb. 26 in favor of eliminating the position of commons senator, reducing the Student Government Association senate from 17 to 12 members. Only 10 percent of the student body voted in the referendum, which also changed SGA members’ titles from “senator” to “representative.”
Over 130 activists packed into Burlington City Hall last week to show support for a resolution to end collaboration between the Burlington Police Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Activists flood Burlington City Hall to halt future ICE collaboration

February 27, 2020

BURLINGTON — Over 130 activists, including 20 Middlebury students, rallied in support of a proposed resolution to end collaboration between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Burlington...

Twilight Project to investigate obscured histories of marginalization at Middlebury

February 27, 2020

History Professor and Black Studies Program Director William Hart announced the creation of the Twilight Project, a collaborative research initiative that will delve into Middlebury’s fraught history...

Hannah-Jones at podium

‘You can no longer say that you don’t know’: 1619 Project creator reframes American history

February 26, 2020
Journalist and creator of the 1619 project Nikole Hannah-Jones spoke to a packed Mead Chapel on Tuesday night.
As the coronavirus continues to spread, people across China are wearing surgical masks to protect themselves from transmission of the virus.

Incoming Feb deferred due to China travel ban

February 13, 2020
“I’ve never felt so bad in my life”: President Trump’s travel ban barred ZhiZhong Pu ’24 from matriculating this February with the class of 2023.5.
Capital Normal University, where students were participating in a Winter Term program, has been closed to all non-university personnel. Students have to check in and out when leaving and returning to campus.

School in China suspended amidst coronavirus outbreak

January 31, 2020
Program participants, hailing from 15 different universities, were set to start their semesters in the cities of Hangzhou, Kunming and Beijing on February 12.
Students filled Wilson Hall January 15 to watch the Vermont Supreme Court hear oral arguments for multiple cases as part of their ‘On the Road Series.’

Vermont supreme court hears case on campus

January 23, 2020
As part of their “On The Road Series” the Vermont Supreme Court held hearings in Wilson Hall on January 15th.
Students protest for higher staff wages

Students protest for higher staff wages

December 7, 2019
In response, the college reiterated its commitment to reviewing wages for positions in lowest pay bands. "It took student action to get the college to address it," said College Landscape Horticulturalist and Staff Council President Tim Parsons.
Middlebury is failing its students with disabilities and injuries

Middlebury is failing its students with disabilities and injuries

December 5, 2019
I’m sobbing, furiously wiping tears from my eyes with the back of my sleeve as I push myself on a KneeRover scooter in a mad dash to make my orthopedics appointment.

Faculty express discontent over partner inclusion policies

November 14, 2019
A new survey shows that professors feel the college does not do enough to offer employment opportunities and options to their significant others. So much so, that many faculty have left or considered leaving the college.

College undergoes a rocky transition to Oracle finance system

November 7, 2019
The recent change has caused frustrating and challenges among students, faculty, and staff, who think that the system change occurred before Technology Services was prepared to address issues that arose with the software.
Milk with Dignity pushes for

Milk with Dignity pushes for “leche justa”

November 7, 2019
Protesters fight for migrant farmworker rights at the Middlebury Hannaford on the Milk with Dignity Day of Action.
Post-graduation employment rates hit all-time high

Post-graduation employment rates hit all-time high

October 17, 2019
In good news for the senior class, the number of Middlebury graduates who find jobs within months of their graduation date has been steadily rising.
Munroe undergoes construction to comply with ADA standards.

Re-structured Disability Resource Center expands its scope

October 3, 2019
The new office location and name represent a deeper shift in how the office hopes to promote inclusivity and help students with disabilities.
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Sophia McDermott-Hughes