Middlebury College, the scene of a violent protest in March over conservative author Charles Murray’s presence on campus, has issued “interim procedures” for scheduling future speakers that read more like a DEFCON countdown than an invitation to robust debate.
In a campuswide memo issued Sept. 15, Provost Susan Baldridge never mentioned the uprising by Middlebury students that shut down Murray’s speech. Murray, a social scientist, had been invited to speak on campus, but students didn’t want to listen. Instead they shouted him down, and on his way out of the building, a hostile mob attacked him and his interviewer, Allison Stanger, a professor of politics and economics at the school who ended up with a concussion.
Baldridge did refer to the violence last month at the University of Virginia and “other recent threats to the safety of college and university campuses,” saying those events made Middlebury administrators rethink their safety protocol. But without acknowledging Middlebury’s role in the disturbing campus trend to shut down speech considered offensive, the school’s pledge to beef up security while supporting “robust and inclusive dialogue on our campuses” rings hollow.
At the end of a six-point list detailing the risk assessment, administrators warn they could cancel any scheduled event deemed an “imminent and credible threat to the community that cannot be mitigated by revisions to the event plan.”
What qualifies as an “imminent and credible threat?” The University of California, Berkeley, spent an estimated $600,000 on extra security measures last Thursday to ensure another non-violent speaker would not be silenced by those who threaten violence. —B.P.