by Jeff Dayton-Johnson

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students: 

This week, former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty by a Minneapolis jury on all three charges for the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. For many of us, the verdict marked a necessary though rare example of accountability for an act of lethal violence against a Black person in this country.  But the verdict will not restore Mr. Floyd to his family, nor will it bring back the other Black people killed by police before or subsequent to Mr. Floyd’s murder; people like 20-year-old Daunte Wright, shot to death during a traffic stop in Minneapolis just last week, even as the Chauvin trial neared its conclusion.

And the Chauvin verdict cannot reverse the grief, pain, and dread that many in our campus community have experienced over the last year — and long before. I hope, nevertheless, that the experience of this historic week will galvanize our resolve, individually and collectively, to bridge divides in the work that we do at the Institute, and in the work that our alumni and graduating students pursue in the wider world; “in pursuit,” as our mission statement enjoins us, “of a more just world.”

As a reminder, WellConnect is available for students who seek support during this challenging time. The phone number and instructions are all linked available on the website.  The access code for MIIS students is MIIS-STU.

An upcoming workshop entitled “Acknowledging and Responding to Harm”, led by Middlebury’s Director of Education for Equity and Inclusion Renee Wells, will be held on Thursday, April 29 from 12PM - 2PM PDT. This session will acknowledge that harm has happened and will happen within our campus community and will explore the importance of being able to recognize, name, and address harm when it happens. The session will also provide an opportunity for participants to discuss the way differences in power and privilege impact how we approach and experience conversations about harm and ways we can be intentional about not reinforcing dynamics that hinder conversation or cause harm. Faculty, staff, and students can sign up here to join.

Fall 2021 Course Planning.  This week, Institute Council shared guidance with Institute faculty on course planning for the fall 2021 semester, including basic models of hybrid course design and delivery. Next week, we will share more resources, including those available from DLINQ, as the complex work of reopening campus for a primarily in-person semester continues.

How are COVID Safety Protocols like Swiss Cheese?  The Institute continues to follow current COVID-19 guidelines, with multiple measures to slow the spread of the virus and keep you safe. In that way, combatting the coronavirus is like stacking multiple slices of Swiss cheese; more slices, more likely we prevent the holes in the cheese from aligning and letting the virus through. A new graphic produced by BBC News illustrates this effectively, and demonstrates that the successful vaccine rollout here in California is still just one slice of cheese; for now, we must continue to observe six-foot distancing, wear a mask, and practice good hand hygiene — in addition to getting our shots. Moreover, we must continue to prepare for a fall semester in which most of us are vaccinated, but additional measures — other “slices of cheese” — may still be in effect.

Campus Readiness Update. Hand sanitizer will be located inside the entrances of all campus buildings.  Individual hand sanitizers for personal offices will be available on an as-requested basis.  Canisters of disinfecting wipes will be located in all common areas and next to copy machines, microwaves, refrigerators, and other similar appliances. Larger hand sanitizer dispensers will be located in classrooms.  Individual canisters of disinfecting wipes will be available on an as-requested basis. 

Enjoy your weekend!
Jeff Dayton-Johnson