Letters of Support


Lately professors all over the country and here at Middlebury have been trying to answer the question, “Why liberal arts?” Although the answer is complex, it’s also quite simple. A good liberal arts education produces critically engaged citizens. In other words, people who can get information, analyze it and yes, think about it. As civically engaged citizens, students of the liberal arts are then very often moved to action.

This is exactly what happened last week when a group of Middlebury students decided to push the College to think about how we make our money. The students did this by sending out a fake press release stating that in conjunction with the Dalai Lama’s visit, Middlebury would be divesting itself from all companies that make a profit from war.

The press release was not a joke, but a protest. It pointed out the contradiction of saying we support peaceful solutions and simultaneously taking money from weapons’ manufacturers. It also points out the contradiction between being “carbon neutral” and getting dividends from Big Oil.

This action occurred not because Middlebury is more hypocritical than other institutions. It’s not. But because Middlebury is incredibly good at producing critically engaged citizens.

We the undersigned would like to publicly share our support with the students for pushing all of us to put our money where our mouths and our values are. We also want to applaud them for highlighting the power of a liberal arts education in producing critically engaged citizens.

Submitted by ROBERT COHEN, Professor of English and American Literatures; LAURIE ESSIG, Associate Professor of Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies; PETER HAMLIN, Christian A. Johnson Professor of Music; PETER MATTHEWS, James B. Jermain Professor of Political Economy; SUJATA MOORTI, Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies; KEVIN MOSS, Jean Thompson Fulton Professor of Modern Language and Literature; MARGARET NELSON, A. Barton Hepburn Professor of Sociology; MIKE OLINICK, Professor of Mathematics;  LINUS OWENS, Associate Professor of Sociology; ELLEN OXFELD, Gordon Schuster Professor of Anthropology; JAY PARINI, D.E. Axinn Professor of English and Creative Writing; DAVID STOLL, Professor of Anthropology; YUMNA SIDDIQI, Associate Professor of English and American Literatures; STEVE SNYDER, Kawashima Professor of Japanese Studies; HECTOR VILA, Assistant Professor of Writing; GREG VITERCIK, Professor of Music.



My passion lies in the heartbeat of the Earth. With its warming hands and nurturing care, the Earth provides me with everything I need. There is nothing more that I wish for than to protect the place that gives me life. When I heard about Middlebury, I thought I found the perfect school for me. Now that I’ve just visited it, the confirmation is to be made. I have walked the paths of Middlebury and met people with the same concerns as me, and as I visit, I thrive and my spirit seems to be free. The school represents a beacon of hope for the Earth, but as I walked through Middlebury’s land, I heard of the kinds of investments Middlebury was making. Middlebury’s support of fossil fuel companies and its funding of arms manufacturing and military contracting, due to lack of screens, greatly concerns me.  Before I attended Discover Middlebury, I did some research on the College. What I found is that Middlebury is greatly concerned about environmental issues, but now that I am hearing about the funding that Middlebury is providing towards the destruction of the Earth, I am dumbfounded. My desire to attend Middlebury is high — I believe it is the place for me. Yet, as a prospective student, I want this place to be true to its morals. I would like to attend a school that I know has a good foundation and truly stands up for justice and what is right.

Written by KEENIA SHINAGAWA, a Prospective Student 

We, as a part of Discover Middlebury, have discovered how great this school is, but also that it has much room to improve. We would love to come to Middlebury as a school that stands up to its values. We love to see the student involvement here, and appreciate the warm welcome since we were able to be involved.

Written by Prospective Students PERLA SIBAJA of Los Angeles, Calif.;  FELIX RUANO of Los Angeles, Calif.; CARLOS AGUILAR of Los Angeles, Calif.; BIANCA GONZALEZ of Taos, N.M.; CHRISTINA CHYR of Miami, Fla.; URIEL ULLOA of Los Angeles, Calif.



I am a Middlebury College alumnus, a local (Cornwall) resident, a longtime supporter of the college, and co-secretary for my Middlebury College Class of 1974. Much as I support and love the college, I am deeply concerned about the college authorities’ apparent overreaction to a recent student communication about the college’s investment policy.

I oppose any sanctioning or disciplining of these students for their satirical “press release” and about the college’s investment policies and their related actions. Their efforts constitute admirable and protected free speech. Any disciplining of them of any kind would have a chilling effect on the spirited public discourse that is one of the virtues that have distinguished Middlebury for so many years.

One of the hallmarks of effective protest is that it goes outside the ordinary channels. No law was broken here, and no one was hurt. These students used their brains and moxie to effectively make a public statement. And isn’t that at the heart of Middlebury tries to teach its students to do?

Moreover, the students made an excellent point. The college needs to look again at its investment policy, and should in my view withdraw its investments in companies that make their money building armaments and changing the climate. Along with many other Middlebury alums and students, I support the new effort to have the college divest its investment in oil and coal companies.

I also speak for many alumni who view any effort to discipline these students as highly inappropriate. I encourage the college to reconsider this matter and drop it. Thank you for considering these views.

Gregory Dennis

Middlebury College Class of 1974