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Interim Procedures for Scheduling Events and Invited Speakers

September 15, 2017

Provost Susan Bladridge sent the following announcement to the Middlebury community in an email on September 15, 2017.

To the Middlebury Community,

Following the tragic events this summer in Charlottesville and other recent threats to the safety of college and university campuses, the administration, in discussion with the Board of Trustees, has been reviewing our institutional preparedness for events that may threaten our own campuses.  In response to this new climate, Middlebury, like other institutions, is moving quickly to assess policies and procedures regarding events, guided by our commitment to the free and open exchange of ideas.  We are committed to building capacity so that Middlebury can host all events safely.  These efforts are underway and have thus far involved work by members of the administration, Public Safety/Campus Security, and local and state law enforcement.  We are also examining the steps recently taken by other institutions.

As we begin the academic semester and events are currently being scheduled, we recognize the need to move quickly to put in place procedures that will allow us to be aware of any events that might present significant safety risks.  We have made the faculty, staff, and student governance groups on our campuses aware of our need to establish some short-term guidelines for how events and speakers are scheduled and hosted.

We will communicate with the community later this month to identify the process and groups with whom we will work to determine a more permanent approach.  We are firmly committed to working with the community this semester to establish more permanent procedures by the end of the term.  Existing governance bodies of faculty, staff, and students will be integral to this work.  As in the interim procedures, we will honor our promise that Middlebury is a place devoted to the fundamental values of free expression and academic freedom.  In so doing, we must be able to ensure the safety of speakers and those who wish to hear them. 

The Interim Procedures for Events and Invited Speakers are copied below.  To be clear, our goal is to support the same robust and inclusive dialogue on our campuses that we uphold as essential to our educational mission and vision.  Thus, we seek to be able to support all events.  We will move expeditiously, with the help of the appropriate committees, and we will report to the community on our progress as the semester continues.

 

Sincerely, 

Susan Baldridge
Provost

 

Interim Procedures for Scheduling Events and Invited Speakers 

Until it is replaced or superseded, the following procedures will be in effect for all of Middlebury’s locations. 

1) Those scheduling events (e.g., speakers, symposia, colloquia, performances, etc.) will be required to submit an event reservation request at least three weeks prior to the event date.

2) Students, faculty, and staff seeking to make room reservations for events will, beginning in September, be asked on the submission form whether the proposed event presents any special considerations or security concerns.  Student groups scheduling events will be required to confirm that they have consulted with their group’s faculty or staff advisor.

3) Requests to schedule an event will be reviewed weekly by staff from Student Activities, Event Management, and Communications to identify any events that are a likely target of disruption, threats, violence, or other acts of intimidation, or are likely to draw unusually large crowds. 

4) In the event of a credible likelihood, based on prior incidents or current evidence, that an event is likely to be the target of threats or violence, the Threat Assessment and Management Team will conduct a risk assessment of the event, consulting with local law enforcement as needed, in order to advise the administration.

5) Representatives from Public Safety/Campus Security and Risk Management will review the risk assessment and determine resources or measures that might be necessary to ensure that the event can proceed without undue risk to the speaker and/or members of the community. This review will include a consideration of Middlebury Emergency Preparedness Plan and Emergency Operations protocols.

6) In those exceptional cases where this review indicates significant risk to the community, the president and senior administration will work with event sponsors to determine measures to maximize safety and mitigate risk. Only in cases of imminent and credible threat to the community that cannot be mitigated by revisions to the event plan would the president and senior administration consider canceling the event.