Last updated 3/22/24

Contents Below:

  • Guiding Principles and Community Standards
  • Education and Support for Students and Community
    • Education on Conflict Transformation
    • Direct Support for Students
    • Ongoing Support Throughout the Year
    • Dialogue Across Difference
    • Workshops, Lectures, and Screenings
  • Related Issues
  • Policies and Practices

Guiding Principles and Community Standards

Middlebury hosts many vibrant groups for Jewish, Muslim, Israeli, and Palestinian students. Supported by Student Affairs, students engage in dialogue within and across those groups. In the fall of 2023 a number of activities focused on the crisis and war in Israel and Palestine, on peacebuilding and conflict transformation were organized by student groups and other members of the Middlebury community. In the academic program, students study and debate the issues in courses on the history and politics of the Middle East, of Israel and of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In the week following October 7, many professors departed from their planned syllabus in order to address the October 7 massacre and the war that has ensued. In all of these efforts, we aim to be a community guided by ethics and compassion.

Education and Support for Students and Community

The following examples of support reflect our mission to foster transformative learning opportunities while meeting the needs of our students. This is not a comprehensive or final list. It is an indication of our resolve to continually provide learning and gathering spaces that affirm the backgrounds and dignity of all students and foster a sense of belonging. In addition to the items listed below, new employee orientation and new student orientation include workshops on addressing antisemitism and Islamophobia.

Education on Conflict Transformation

Middlebury has a robust program in conflict transformation, The Kathryn Wasserman Davis Collaborative in Conflict Transformation. It focuses on the analysis and practice of conflict management at the high school, undergraduate, graduate, experiential, and global levels. The Collaborative has sponsored many events related to this particular issue: 

  • A structured, deliberative dialogue program between students affected by Israel and Palestine in spring 2023 before the war started.
  • Three official dialogues to address the war and how we talk about it on campus, October 30, December 1, and December 8.
  • Training for students in a variety of different conflict transformation skills, such as restorative practices, deliberative dialogues, and mediation.

Many other individuals and organizations also offer opportunities to learn about Israel and Palestine and gather to exchange information and views:

  • Courses in which students learn the skills of studying and engaging on Israel and Palestine.
  • Open office hours sponsored by professors on a wide variety of viewpoints on Israel and Palestine.
  • Staff, faculty, and student support for nearly a dozen events sponsored by individual student groups this semester to have difficult conversations, embrace a diversity of viewpoints, and maintain relationships.
  • Support for joint initiatives of Jewish and Muslim student organizations, such as this fall’s fundraising for World Central Kitchen, the only NGO currently in both Israel and Gaza working to address food insecurity.
  • Student Affairs, Public Safety, and the Events offices worked with Jewish organizations to support a vigil for Jewish unity in October.
  • Student Affairs, Public Safety, and the Events offices supported a vigil honoring the Palestinian people at Middlebury Chapel on November 9. 

Direct Support for Students

  • On October 7, care managers, deans, and Spiritual Life employees immediately compiled a list of students known or believed to be particularly impacted by the war, offering individual outreach and support.
  • The College rabbi has been meeting one-on-one with students to grieve with them and support them as they confront the war, its reverberations and the increase in antisemitism in the United States. These meetings have been by appointment, during open office hours, and through communal spaces at Hillel and elsewhere.
  • In an open letter published in “JewsNews,” the weekly Hillel newsletter, the College rabbi offered support and addressed student concerns.
  • For all of the events sponsored, Events Management staff and Public Safety worked with local and state agencies, the Middlebury Police Department, the Vermont State Police, Middlebury Regional EMS, and Middlebury Fire Department requesting their presence or situational awareness, as appropriate.
  • Student Affairs; Public Safety; Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; and the Events offices supported an event created by Students for Justice in Palestine at McCullough Hall on November 1.

Ongoing Support Throughout the Year

  • The Coalition for Dismantling Antisemitism at Middlebury launched in 2021, has expanded its work since October, and this winter and spring has been meeting weekly.
  • The Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life considers all of their regular programming to be supports for students in building community, providing common gathering spaces, and positively expressing the value of their respective religious and cultural identities.
  • Middlebury’s rabbi works with Public Safety to ensure increased awareness around Jewish spaces and gatherings on campus.
  • Public Safety ensured that there was security at a synagogue students visited for Shabbat in Montreal over fall break.
  • Professors are holding open office hours for students who want to discuss the issues.
  • A Hebrew professor and advisor to the Hebrew Language House, and students living in the Hebrew House, opened their doors immediately on October 8 for people to come together, including for a Hebrew culture program and home hospitality for students by hosting dinners. The Hebrew House continues to be a gathering space for students seeking support.
  • Programming for Muslim students focused on resilience and healing led by Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life staff.

Dialogue Across Difference

  • In the fall and the spring, senior administrators have met regularly with the Hillel board and the Muslim Students Association to listen, offer support, and understand student needs. 
  • Interfaith discussion has focused on compassion, justice, and nonviolence in events sponsored by the Davis Collaborative in Conflict Transformation and the Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life on October 25.
  • Conflict Transformation Collaborative: Many professors continue to discuss the war and its issues in classes, which are built to have complex conversations about sensitive topics with students who sit together over the course of a semester. The Collaborative hosted a dialogue on October 30, and continues the work it has been doing on the topic of Israel and Palestine since it was created not only in response to the war, but ongoing since the start. Dialogues were also held on December 1 and December 8.
  • A cross-campus community conversation at Community Council’s February 14 meeting discussed ways to create venues to talk across differences, building on the constructive conversations around Israel and Gaza this fall. Program opportunities to be announced on the campus calendar.
  • The Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life considers all of their regular programming to be supports for students in building community, providing common gathering spaces, and positively expressing the value of their respective religious and cultural identities.
  • Coalition for Dismantling Antisemitism at Middlebury has met with rabbis from other institutions and with alumni to set its agenda and next steps. 

Workshops, Lectures, and Screenings

  • Faculty have hosted guest lectures representing a wide variety of viewpoints on topics related to the Israel/Gaza conflict.
  • The Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion devoted the Reading Group for faculty and staff on October 19 to the topic of antisemitism on campus. The office also devoted a workshop to the topic of antisemitism on November 13.
  • The Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life held an October 25 panel to help the community process the traumatic issues.
  • New student orientation workshops led by the Chaplain’s office cover antisemitism and Islamophobia.
  • On November 12 senior staff facilitated meetings for all Jewish students to share how they have been affected by events since October 7 and to express support for moving forward.
  • This spring, as part of a campus and community wide effort to learn about challenging issues and talk across difference, we will invite two national and local leading journalists to talk about navigating a fragmented information environment, defamatory and inflammatory speech, and communicating openly across different value systems.
  • The Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion devoted a reading group session to exploring issues of antisemitism.
  • The Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will be participating in a division-wide workshop on approaching and understanding antisemitism within a wider framework of anti-oppression teaching, learning, and practice in spring 2024.
  • Hillel offered a “Responding to Interpersonal Antisemitism” workshop over Winter Term, with alumni who have worked with NCBI and the ADL on antisemitism.
  • Winter Term impact circle with the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.


The following Q & A sections may be periodically updated to reflect new developments or questions from our community.

Related Issues

News organizations have reported that other campuses have experienced tensions, fierce debates, and critiques about the environment for these particular groups. What constitutes a hostile environment or harassment at Middlebury?

Middlebury has zero tolerance for discrimination. This includes harassment that creates a hostile educational or work environment. Here is the framework that Middlebury, as a higher education institution, must work within according to United States law: 

As defined by our policies and the law, harassment is a form of discrimination as defined in our Non-Discrimination Policy, which applies to all students, staff, applicants, and visitors to Middlebury’s programs and campuses.

Do calls for genocide violate Middlebury’s policies or code of conduct?


Middlebury has zero tolerance for threats to individuals or groups, and all members of the Middlebury College community would be held accountable under several different policies including the Non-Discrimination Policy (a call for violence directed at Jewish, Israeli, Palestinian, Muslim or other protected groups would be prohibited); Respectful Behavior (which prohibits incitement or provocation to violence); and our Open Expression Policy (which prohibits speech that incites or threatens physical violence and speech that violates our Non-Discrimination Policy).

Does Middlebury have ties to Israeli academic institutions?

Middlebury hosts several Israeli scholars, including those teaching in the Program in Hebrew and Israeli Society and in Jewish Studies. Middlebury also sponsors scholars from the Israel Institute and hosts Israeli guest lecturers, both Jewish and Arab.

Is political discourse related to the Israel-Gaza conflict protected speech?

Yes. According to our Open Expression Policy, even divisive phrases like “from the river to the sea” or “settlement brings security” are protected speech. Middlebury’s Open Expression Policy safeguards a learning environment “where all voices can be heard and have the opportunity to contribute to the conversation.” As the policy states: “Protecting open expression does not mean that Middlebury approves of or endorses all views expressed, especially where the expression conflicts with our fundamental commitment to inclusivity—that the contributions of every community member are valued.” Middlebury has extensive programs, protocols, and support services in place for mitigating harm that divisive speech can cause. 

How does Middlebury understand antisemitism?

Our students, faculty, and staff regularly discuss antisemitism in curricular and co-curricular activities, including the regular meetings of the working group on antisemitism. Middlebury provides this resource page on definitions and discussions of antisemitism.

How does Middlebury understand Islamophobia?

Our students, faculty and staff regularly discuss Islamophobia in curricular and co-curricular activities.  Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative has served as a helpful resource for discussions of Islamophobia at Middlebury.

Policies and Practices

Does Middlebury have a policy regarding hate speech? 

Middlebury responds when there are threats, overt intimidation, and discriminatory speech that create a hostile environment or that impair students’ access to education or their rights to fully participate in campus discourse. Violations of Middlebury’s policies subject community members to the full range of available disciplinary sanctions. Middlebury also responds through its robust programs in conflict transformation and restorative dialogue.

Middlebury’s Open Expression Policy is based on the work of the Committee on Speech and Inclusion in 2017-2018. Following that, a group of faculty, students, and staff was appointed by Faculty Council to a working group that proposed a revised policy in 2019. The Senior Leadership Group adopted the current policy in November 2019 (FAQs and other additional resources are here). Middlebury’s Open Expression Policy distinguishes between speech that is “offensive but protected expression” and speech that “incites or threatens physical violence or constitutes harassment,” which are prohibited and subject to discipline and/or criminal prosecution.

What are Middlebury’s processes and policies for dealing with complaints of bigotry on campus?

Middlebury has several institutional venues for dealing with these complaints: 1) Community Bias Response Team, 2) Civil Rights and Title IX Office, 3) Student Conduct Office, and 4) informal conflict transformation processes. They are known and used by students, faculty, and staff.

The Community Bias Response Team (CBRT) provides support for individuals and groups on our campuses who have been impacted by bias incidents. A report of a policy violation under our Non-Discrimination Policy on campus may be filed in accordance with our Non-Discrimination Investigations and Resolutions Procedure. We encourage the reporting of instances of unwelcome protected-characteristic-related conduct even if the conduct is not sufficiently severe that it undermines and detracts from or interferes with an individual’s education, work performance, or access to Middlebury resources, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational, work, or living environment. Middlebury encourages such reports so that the behavior can be addressed before it creates a hostile environment for the affected individual.

When does protected speech cross the line into speech that would result in disciplinary action?

According to our Open Expression Policy: “Campus community members engaging in open expression—and in response to the expression of others—are expected to do so in a way that affirms our three pillars of academic freedom, integrity, and respect.” 

The policy also articulates conduct standards that would prompt a review of behavior by a member of our community and that have been the basis for disciplinary action. (For instance: speech that incites or threatens physical violence, is defamatory, or violates our Non-Discrimination Policy.)