“Activists, Allies, and Accomplices: Responses to Racism Today” will delve into the challenges of building a more inclusive community.

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Students, faculty, and staff will convene an inaugural 2-day symposium titled “Activists, Allies, and Accomplices: Responses to Racism Today” starting this Friday evening, May 6, and running throughout the day on Saturday, May 7. The symposium–sponsored by the presidential task force Alliance for an Inclusive Middlebury–will explore issues of activism and allyship, both in contemporary and historical contexts, and include guest faculty presenters from other institutions.

“This has been a year of conversations around issues of diversity, inclusion, race, and what it means to be a member of this community,” said Roberto Lint-Sagarena, associate professor of American Studies and director of the director of the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity. “How do we foster a sense of belonging and being here? We hope that this symposium provides us with a space to come together as the school year ends and also provides us with challenges we still need to grapple with so that we can grow as an institution.”

Rinku Sen
Rashawn Ray

The symposium kicks off with a student panel, “Allyship,” on Friday evening at 6 p.m. in Axinn 232. Moderated by Lint Sagarena and Monterey faculty member Pushpa Iyer, the panel includes undergraduates from Middlebury and graduate students from the Middlebury Institute.

Saturday’s events begin at 9 a.m. in Dana Auditorium with remarks by President Laurie Patton. Keynote speaker Rinku Sen, an author, activist, and president and executive director of the racial justice organization Race Forward, will talk at 9:30. The morning sessions wrap up with a student activism panel at 11 a.m.

The afternoon’s events, which will take place in Axinn 232, begin with a keynote talk by Rashawn Ray, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Maryland. The concluding panel, from 2:15-4 p.m., features faculty from Middlebury, Monterey, Syracuse University, and Smith College who will discuss “Historical, Cultural, and Activist Critiques of Race, Difference, and Power.” Associate Professor of History Bill Hart will facilitate the final panel.

“This is one of the first symposia where we are talking about inclusion with the Middlebury Institute,” said Dean of Students Baishakhi Taylor. “We are excited about bringing undergraduate and graduate students together for the first time and hearing from student activists from peer schools.”

Patton formed Alliance for an Inclusive Middlebury, a task force comprised of faculty, staff, and students, in 2015 to promote a college-wide approach to issues of diversity, access, and equity. Through strategic planning and programmatic development, the group works to help the community “foster an inclusive campus so that no one should experience it as an outsider.”

All are welcome to attend the symposium. More information is available here.