Students on strike

A People's History of Middlebury College

  • Middlebury College is Chartered

    Middlebury College is Chartered
    Middlebury was chartered as an institution despite a mild controversy over its attempt to take funding state funding away from the University of Vermont which was being founded at the same time. Read more.
  • Student-run Philomathesian Society forms

    The Philomathesian Society, founded by Henry Chipman '03 as the first student society at Middlebury, was open to all students to discuss questions of politics, religion, education, and morality. Read more.
  • Emma Willard asks the College to allow her female students to audit classes

    Emma Willard asks the College to allow her female students to audit classes
    Emma Willard opened a Female Seminary in her home, writing around that time, "My neighborhood to Middlebury College made me bitterly feel the disparity in educational facilities between the two sexes; and hoped that, if the matter was once set before the men as legislators, they would be ready to correct the error" (quoted in Stameshkin 117). Read more.
  • 50 students petition to fire Prof. Frederick Hall

    In a petition written to the Board of Trustees, 50 Middlebury students claimed that once-admired math professor Frederick Hall should be fired over "recent occurrences which have transpired in his department, occurences in their nature so aggravated and cruel" that they were keeping students from attending the school. Read more.
  • Alexander Twilight -- Middlebury's first Black student -- Graduates

    Alexander Twilight -- Middlebury's first Black student -- Graduates
    Alexander Twilight, often touted by the Middlebury administration as the first Black student in US history to receive a college degree, was likely admitted to Middlebury College because he "passed" as white. This says more about the bigotry of the administraiton and trustees at the time than Twilight's qualifications as a scholar. Read more.
  • Middlebury grants honorary degree to Universalist Samuel C. Loveland

    Middlebury grants honorary degree to Universalist Samuel C. Loveland
    In an act of forcing the institution to act in accordance with its nominal non-sectarianism, student Thomas J. Sawyer '29 "used his good standing in the college community to convince the trustees to bestow an M.A. degree upon his religious mentor," Samuel C. Loveland. Read more.
  • Students transfer in protest of disciplinary action

    After students were reprimanded for going to Burlington to hear Daniel Webster speak without obtaining permission from the school, several students -- "some our best scholars" as James Simmons '41 put it to David Stameshkin -- transferred out of Middlebury in protest.
  • Anti-secret society organizing begins

    When Chi Psi was allowed to continue to meet underground after the college administration banned fraternities because "its early members included men who were known for their academic excellence and outstanding Christian character," a group of students organized a student meeting to condemn the existence of secret fraternities at Middlebury (Vol. 1; 175). Read more.
  • Martin Freeman admitted

    Martin Freeman admitted
    Martin Freeman, the only black student at Middlebury between 1840 and 1880, matriculated in the fall of 1845. Read more.
  • Student petition for breakfast before morning prayers

    In a small act of collective bargaining, students successfully petitioned for their morning prayers and recitation to be pushed back after breakfast. After 60 years of the "quasi-monastic" routine of waking before the sun to pray, this was no small win for the students (Stameshkin Vol. 1; 171). Read more.
  • Faculty petition the Board for reallocation of funds

    The faculty in 1870 -- Webber, Albee, Parker, Robbins, Seely, Kellogg, and Brainerd -- were, in the words of Stameshkin, "an aggressive and demanding faculty who were difficult, at times, for the new president and trustees to handle" (Vol. 1; 158). Read more.
  • The entire student body goes on strike

    For the first time Middlebury College made national news. Why? In the fall of 1879 the entire student body went on strike. Read more.
  • Middlebury accepts female students

    Middlebury accepts female students
  • May Belle Chellis graduates as first female to receive a Middlebury degree

    May Belle Chellis graduates as first female to receive a Middlebury degree
    May Belle Chellis, winner of a Waldo Prize for academic excellence and first in her class, graduated as the first woman to receive a Middlebury College degree. Read more.
  • Middlebury receives state funding

    Middlebury receives state funding
    A little-known piece of Middlebury College history is that starting in 1888 the College began to receive funding from the state. Read more.
  • Students burn down benches in Old Chapel

    Students burn down benches in Old Chapel
    In an act that came "not from motives of devilry and distinction, but for improvement," students broke into Old Chapel, ripped out the old wooden benches, and burned them (quoted in Stameshkin Vol. 1; 208). Read more.
  • KDR is founded as a critique of fraternity system

    In 1905, ten "neutrals" (students who were not part of the dominating fraternity system) formed the Kappa Delta Rho (KDR) fraternity in the hopes that it "would not condone the pranks, drunkenness, and elitism allowed by the other fraternities" (Stameshkin Vol. 1; 263). Read more.
  • President Thomas takes first steps toward attracting wealthy students

    President Thomas takes first steps toward attracting wealthy students
    Pres. John Thomas commissioned the building of the large and luxurious Hepburn Hall in the hopes that it would attract more "paying students" to Middlebury (271). Read more.
  • Consolidating Vermont Colleges Debate Begins

    In 1911 talks began about creating a union of the colleges in Vermont (UVM, Middlebury, and Norwich). Read more.
  • Women's Athletic Association begins years of women organizing for athletic rights

    In 1912 Middlebury's Women's Athletic Association formed and marked the beginning of years of women organizing for athletic rights. The organization started by organizing basketball games that were only open to "women of the college, faculty wives, and friends" (Stameshkin Vol. 1; 270).
  • Student government is founded

    In a move that on the surface appeared to be a win for student power, the Middlebury administration established the existence of student governments (one for the men's college, one for the women's). Read more.
  • Carnegie Foundation Debacle

    In late 1913, after President of Middlebury John Thomas proposed an expanded new curriculum for Middlebury that stressed subject matter and lived experience over mental discipline (following the philosophy of Vermonter John Dewey), the state government commissioned the Carnegie Foundation for Advancement of Teaching to investigate higher education in the state. Read more.
  • The Women's College at Middlebury formally named

    The Women's College at Middlebury formally named as a separate institution from 'Middlebury College' the men's school.
  • Female students say no to sororities

    Three-quarters of the freshman class in the Women's College petition for indefinite postponement of sorority rushing.
  • The Liberal Club forms

    The Liberal Club formed in 1932 as a way for students to discuss politics left of center.
  • Female Students Vote Sororities Out

    Of the 194 female students at Middlebury in 1934, 158 petition the President to abolish sororities. Sororities were forced onto the women as a justification for the existence of fraternities; in order to prove that there was 'equality' amongst the sexes, women were forced to continue their own Greek life against their desires up to this point of resistance.
  • Majority of Student Body Is Socialist

    A poll of the student body conducted in 1934 found that the majority of the student body identified as Socialist over Republican or Democrat. Though the results shifted in the years to come, this was a remarkable difference from the preceeding generations.
  • Students organize "Peace Strike"

    The Liberal Club, the Women's Forum, and the Middlebury Peace Council join 13 groups from town to organize a "peace strike" as part of the national collegiate movement.
  • Students invite Marxist writer to campus

    Students politicized during World War II form the Student Action Assembly and bring the American Marxist writer Granville Hicks to campus.
  • Middlebury Welcomes the Navy

    A navy V-12 unit of 500 officers enters the College as the school struggles with enrollment and funding.
  • First female editor of The Campus

    Half a century after Middlebury first admitted women, Ruth Wheaton becomes the first female student to be Editor-in-Chief of The Campus.
  • Sorority challenges anti-Semitism

    Middlebury's Phi Mu sorority protests their National for not allowing them to pledge a Jewish student.
  • AAUP Chapter forms at Middlebury

    After the war and the disastrous relationship between the faculty, staff, and President Stratton, faculty at Middlebury form a chapter of the academic-protecting American Association of University Professors.
  • Intentional recruitment of wealthy students begins

    In a move that David Stameshkin considers to be the start of the making of Middlebury as the 'elite' institution that it is today, Middlebury administrator and recruitment officer Stanley Wright begins to recruit under-performing, wealthy students from prepartoy schools who before would not have been admitted to the school.
  • Faculty petition against the President

    51 faculty members sign a petition out of dissatisfaction with salary and President Stratton.
  • Fraternity challenges its national chapter's racism

    Middlebury's Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity becomes the first in the nation to break with its national over racial and religious discrimination.
  • Staff lead a successful union campaign

    68 buildings, grounds, and maintenence employees who formed a local with the United Mine Workers uion walked off their jobs to protest poor working conditions and pay.
  • WRMC is founded

    WRMC starts operating out of a converted chicken coop
  • Alumni withold funds after faculty dismissal

    Alumni refuse to give Middlebury money after W. Storrs Lee -- a beloved teacher and key figure in the Middlebury community -- was fired.
  • Fraternity admits first Black member

    Ron Brown becomes the first Black member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity.
  • Female students petition for later curfew

    Female students successfully petition to extend curfew from 10pm to 11pm. Though a small win, it was the first step on the road to many more changes for women who, for decades, had been treated differently and infantilized more obviously than the men at the College.
  • Civil Rights student organization is founded

    The first Civil Rights student organiztion is founded at the College in the fall of 1963 and one of their first actions is to hold a Civil Rights Conference.
  • Middlebury begins an exchange program with a HBCU

    Exchange program with the HBCU Talladega College in Alabama begins. Unfortunately, though the founders wanted the program to continue, 1965 was its first and last year.
  • Students and faculty march for civil rights

    In the spring of 1965, 26 students and faculty members participate in the Civil Rights march from Montgomery to Selma, Alabama. On the Middlebury campus there is a "sympathy march" on the same day.
  • Students travel to DC to protest the war

    Students travel to DC to protest the war
  • Students stage a successful sit-in to extend parietal hours

    After years of female and male students being kept apart and only being allowed 'parietal hours' to visit each others' rooms for a short time in the evenings or on the weekends (with the door open!), students organizine a sit-in to extend parietal hours and win.
  • An 'abortion underground' is founded

    Torie Osborn (founder of the future Middlebury College Women's Union-- the first feminist group at Middlebury) begin an "abortion underground," driving students seeking abortions across the border into Canada for affordable and safe care.
  • Period: to

    Protests of the 60s heat up

    From 1967 to 1970 many members of the Middlebury community challenged the status quo through the following actions: international solidarity work: fighting for 24-hour parietal hours and co-ed dorms; anti-war teach-ins, bringing about the end of ROTC, protesting against Dow Chemical interviews, sitting-in at the local draft board, and organizing activities related to moratorium against the war,
  • SGA votes to dissolve itself

    The student government dissolves itself to bring attention to the fact that it was rendered powerless by the administration.
  • RAs resign due to administrative control

    8 of 11 members of the Gifford Dormitory Council resign in protest after being denied autonomy by the administration.
  • Faculty are denied seats on the Board

    Faculty request six seats on the Board and are denied them.
  • Student brings charges of racism against a sorority

    Black Student Stephanie Davis charges that the Sigma Kappa sorority discriminated against her because of her race
  • ROTC loses its mandatory status

    In the fall of 1969 the faculty approves a student-supported "modified" plan to limit ROTC participation. This action likely led to its eventual phasing out in 1976 due to lack of participation.
  • The school shuts down for a week after Kent State shootings

    In the spring of 1970 -- after the Kent state shootings -- the College suspended classes and normal activities for an entire school week. Read more about it here.
  • Period: to

    The school shuts down for a full week.

    In the spring of 1970 -- after the Kent state shootings -- the College suspended classes and normal activities for an entire school week. Read more about it here.
  • Recitation Hall is burned down

    In the middle of Middlebury's student strike week, an arsonist burns down the building Recitation Hall. Read more here.
  • Students threaten a strike to end distruibution requirements

    The newly-formed Student Investigating Committee threatens a student strike if the faculty do not vote to end distribution requirements and they win.
  • First feminist group forms on campus

    "Middlebury Women’s Union founded: 65 women of college formed group; met every week to talk about the role of sexism played on campus
  • First environmental group forms

    Environmental Quality, the first environmental student organization, forms in 1971.
  • Students arrested in anti-war protest

    16 of the 50 Middlebury students who went to Washington, DC to protest the Vietnam War are arrested.
  • Students occupy the ROTC building

    Students involved with the Radical Education Action Project occupy part of Adirondack House where the ROTC offices were and turned it into a "Peace Center' after the Nixon Administration bombed North Vietnam.
  • Black students establish Coltrane Lounge as a safe space

    Black students establish Coltrane Lounge as a safe space
  • First LGBTQ student organization forms

    The Gay People at Middlebury -- the first LGBTQ student group at Middlebury -- has its first meeting.
  • Marjorie Lamberti earns a tenured position

    Marjorie Lamberti becomes the second woman to become a full professor (the first was a Home Economics professor in 1925)
  • 1,000 students petition to be included in decision-making

    After years of feeling left out of conversations that affected their schooling and their lives, 1,000 students sign a petition calling on the administration to engage in more consultation with students beforemaking decisions.
  • Students sit-in to protest French professor dismissal

    Students stage an overnight sit-in in Old Chapel to protest French professor's firing
  • Middlebury Awareness Development (MAD) group forms as a forum for student concerns

    Over 600 students attend a meeting organized by the ad hoc Middlebury Awareness Development (MAD) group to approve solutions for specific areas of student conern.
  • Faculty calls for complete divestment from South Africa

    The faculty calls for complete divestment from South Africa.
  • Students petition for female nurse practioners

    Students successfully petition the school to hire a woman as director/nurse practioner at the until-ten all-male health center.
  • Black Student Union supports faculty fight for divestment

    The Black Student Union meets with the Undergraduate Life Committee to ask the college to divest
  • Faculty organize to include sexuality in nondiscrimination statement

    Professors Richard Cornwall and David Prouty organize to have the faculty pass a recommendation that the college include sexual orietnation in its nondiscrimination statement
  • Anti-Apartheid group builds a symbolic wall

    Anti-apartheid student group the Armadillos builds a rock wall on campus to symbolize Apartheid as part of the faculty and staff movement for divestment from South Africa.
  • Women's Studies introduced as a program at the College

    Theough the now-entitled Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies major had yet to be included in the curriculum, a Women’s Studies Concentration is offered in the Sociology Department in 1986.
  • Staff Council is formed

    The Middlebury College Staff Council is formed in place of a union in order "to provide a forum that will regularly address staff-related concerns and ideas and thus contribute to the well-being of the Middlebury College Community."
  • Students Against Apartheid sit-in President Robison's office

    As the divestment movement on campus heats up, students Against Apartheid organize a sit-in in President Robison's office
  • Board of Trustees Divests from South Africa

    After an almost decade-long struggle (and after many other universities had done so before them), trustees vote to divest from South African Apartheid.
  • Report finds Middlebury to have neglected issues of race

    The Report of the Admissions Long-Range Planning Committee forces the administration into taking up issues of race and racism at the College by naming the fact that the school has put race on the backburner since the Twilight Report was published five years earlier critiquing the school's lack of awareness and programming.
  • Faculty, staff, and students organize against CIA recruitment (teach-in, etc.)

    Faculty, staff, and students organize against CIA recruitment (teach-in, etc.)
  • The Gay People at Middlebury takes a new shape

    The Gay People at Middlebury is reorganized as the Middlebury Lesbian and Gay Alliance (MLGA) . The following year it is renamed again as the the Middlebury Lesbian Gay Straight Alliance.
  • Community fights to close the DU fraterntiy

    The Women's Union and other members of the community petition the Community Council to disband the Delta Upsilon fraternity after they suspended from their balcony a mutilated female mannequin covered in red paint with with the phrase "Random Hole" written on it.
  • Islamic students practice and educate the community about their religious practices

    In a move that challenged Middlebury's Protest past and present, 10 Islamic students observe Ramadan, attend an Islamic Symposium, and form a prayer group from 1989 to 1990.
  • The Gamut Room opens

    The Gamut Room opens
  • Students organize against Prof. Paul Cubeta's sexual harassment of students

    Professor Paul Cubeta retires after multiple students organized to file a suit against him for sexual harassment. Part of the outrage was due to the fact that the school hid this information from the public for an extended period of time.
  • Women's studies major is introduced

    Women's studies major is introduced
  • A coalition of faculty, students, and towspeople protest CIA interviews

    Faculty, students with the group ACT NOW, and townspeople sing and chant outside of a CIA interview session at the top of their lungs, preventing the interviews from taking place and effectively banning the CIA from campus for years to come.
  • The administration votes no to childcare

    After plenty of organizing by the staff (and an urging in the Special Report on Gender), the College fails to offer subsidized childcare.
  • Special Committee on Attitudes releases critical findings

    The Special Committee on Attitudes toward Gender releases their findings that discrimination against women on campus is pervasive.
  • Students protest the rise in tuition

    Students form STARTUP (Students Against the Rise in Tuition and Unjust Policies) and half the student body boycott classes and stage a sit-in on the Old Chapel steps to protest the immense rise in tuition from the year before.
  • May Belle Chellis Women’s Resource Center opens

    What is now called the Chellis House - Women's Resource Center is opened and becomes home to many student organizations such as the Women’s Union, Artemis magazine, Middlebury Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Alliance, Feminist Action at Middlebury, students from African- American Alliance, Alianza Latinoamericana y Caribena and the International Students Organization.
  • Administration institutes parental leave for faculty

    The College instituded parental leave for faculty, allowing them to take one term off from teaching with full pay when giving birth or adopting a child.