Demonstrations and Protests
Students, student organizations, faculty, and staff at Middlebury College are free to examine and discuss all questions of interest to them and to express opinions publicly and privately. They should always be free to support causes by orderly means that do not disrupt the regular and essential operation of the College or community. At the same time, it should be made clear to the academic and larger community that students or student organizations, and individual members of the faculty or staff, speak only for themselves, not for the College as an institution, in their public expressions or demonstrations.
Middlebury College does not allow disruptive behavior at community events or on campus. Disruptions may include purposeful blocking the view of others at the event; banners or items that block the audience's view; noise or action that disrupts the ability of the audience to hear (e.g., shouting out or use of a bull horn).
If an event is disrupted by a group or individual, a representative of the College may request the action to stop or ask the person or group to leave the event and move to an approved location for protesting. Individuals or groups who disrupt an event or fail to leave when asked are in violation of the College's policy of respect for persons and may also be in violation of the policy regarding disrespect for College officials. These violations of College policy may result in College discipline. Disruption may also result in arrest and criminal charges such as disorderly conduct or trespass.
For specific events and during specific times of the year, Middlebury College invites the public to join us at events and extends free speech and expression privileges during these events. Any individual or group who disrupts an event and is unwilling to respect College policy or to comply with the requests of College officials will be asked to leave Middlebury College property. Failure to comply may result in arrest for unlawful trespass or other criminal violations.
Anyone who wishes to stage a demonstration or protest at any event on College property should contact and arrange a meeting with Public Safety to discuss College policy, demonstration-specific regulations, and safety issues.
The Department of Public Safety should be consulted in the planning of all organized demonstrations, in order to register the demonstration with other pertinent College offices. The desire of Middlebury College is to promote intellectual inquiry and exchange in a respectful and civil manner. The safety of all participants is of utmost importance to the College, and policies may be enacted to ensure safety during the demonstration.
Event planners in conjunction with the dean of the College, the Department of Events Management, the speaker or performer, and the Department of Public Safety will determine the following for any demonstration approved on campus.
The location of an approved demonstration will be determined following space and use guidelines for college areas managed by Events Management and other offices and in accordance with this policy.
If the demonstration is against an issue at another approved College event, the location of an approved demonstration will be as proximate to the other event as deemed appropriate considering the following:
Nature of the other event
Security needs of the other event
Time of the other event
Any other necessary considerations
The use of streets of Middlebury for parades or demonstrations is subject to town ordinance and requires a town permit.
Time and Duration
Demonstrations may not interfere with the academic and educational functions of the College. The time and duration of the demonstration will be determined with regard to the following:
Nature of the event and/or the demonstration
Security needs of the event and/or the demonstration
Time of the event and/or the demonstration
Any other necessary considerations
Demonstrations must occur in the approved defined location (if and when a location is determined.)
Demonstrations may not block access to the venue in which another event is being held.
Demonstrations utilizing pickets, large items, bullhorns, or other loud or amplified sound making devices are usually confined to the exterior of buildings so as not to disrupt regular and essential operation of the College or create health and safety issues. Demonstrations with a noise level that disrupts other authorized activities on the College campus violate College policies. Connection to the College's utilities (power, etc.) must be approved in advance (during the weekday) by Facilities Services.
Distribution of materials such as leaflets may not be confrontational and must allow people to decline to receive the materials.
Organizers must remove all items and materials at the end of the demonstration.
Demonstrators are not allowed to use intimidating tactics or unwelcome physical contact between demonstrators, counter demonstrators, the audience, the speaker or performers, or College officials.
The use of chalk on buildings or other structures, or within 10 feet of any door, is strictly prohibited to prevent damage to the structure and injury to anyone stopping at entrances or exits. Demonstrators may not mark or use trees or College structures to support or display signs, messages, materials, or equipment without prior approval of Facilities Services.
Note: Any of these demonstration standards can be applied to any location including in and approved event space.
Middlebury College Event Host
Within the guidelines of this protocol, event hosts may determine when behavior at their event is being disruptive. The hosts should always attempt to gain cooperation by asking that the disruptive behavior stop prior to requesting that the person or persons leave the event. The hosts may also decide to contact Public Safety about the disturbance or behavior.
Public Safety will locate the hosts at any event before handling any situation of non-violent behavior unless the disruption necessitates action to prevent greater confrontation. Public Safety has the authority to respond to acts of violence, threats of violence, or overcrowding without first contacting the event hosts. In all cases where time permits contacting the event hosts, Public Safety will contact the event hosts to determine if the behavior is in fact disruptive to the event. If Public Safety has been contacted by the hosts and asked to deal with a person or persons creating a non-violent disturbance, Public Safety will always start by asking the person or persons to stop the disruptive behavior prior to asking the person or persons to leave the event.