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College uses photo from 2017 student protest that turned violent to promote school's 'social justice.' Oops.


All kinds of missteps here

Image source: The Middlebury Campus, used by permission

You might recall a headline-grabbing left-wing student protest at Vermont's Middlebury College in 2017 that resulted not only in the shutdown of a talk by conservative speaker Charles Murray but also in an injury to a liberal professor who took part in the event in order to foster dialogue — and who later took to task the "thug" who physically attacked her.


Well, for some reason, the school used a photo of a student protesting Murray's talk in a promotional Instagram story last Wednesday, student newspaper the Middlebury Campus reported — and the Instagram story gushed with pride: "At Middlebury, we don't just talk about social justice; we also act on it."

Which is kind of an odd take considering that besides the protest turning violent, dozens of Middlebury students were sanctioned by the school for taking part it, with punishments ranging from "probation to official College discipline, which places a permanent record in the student's file. Some graduate schools and employers require individuals to disclose official college discipline in their applications."

The school paper said current and former students were unhappy that Middlebury marketed the same protest its officials punished, and that the Instagram story was deleted the same day it went up.

"Funny that you would punish students for protesting and then use their protest as part of an [sic] big advertising ploy," Middlebury student Cora Kircher — a member of the environmental activism group Divest Middlebury — wrote in an Instagram story last Wednesday, the paper said.

Divest Middlebury shared a screenshot of Kircher's post on its Facebook page:

The now-former student depicted in the Instagram story, Austin Kahn, noted on Facebook his displeasure with Middlebury's marketing campaign, saying the school "launched an investigation where they used images like the one neatly featured on their IG account to discipline dissidents among the student body and intimidated sympathetic faculty." The school paper noted that Kahn was one of the disciplined students.

What did Middlebury have to say?

Andrew Cassel, the school's social media director, told the Middlebury Campus that backlash against the school's Instagram story is "fully justified."

"When we realized our mistake, of course we were concerned about any hurt it would bring to our community," Cassel told the paper. "In this case, both the admissions and communications teams recognized that we had made this oversight and deleted the post."

What happened at the protest?

Murray, author of "The Bell Curve," was drowned out by students calling him "racist, sexist," and "anti-gay." But that was quite minor compared to the experience of Political Science professor Allison Stanger, taking part for "a chance to demonstrate publicly my commitment to a free and fair exchange of views in my classroom."

Stanger said she and Murray eventually exited the venue and livestreamed their Q&A from a private location instead — a contingency plan agreed upon ahead of time in case things got out of control.

But Stanger said when she and Murray exited the room, protesters were ready for them.

"We confronted an angry mob as we tried to exit the building," Stanger said. "Most of the hatred was focused on Dr. Murray, but when I took his right arm both to shield him from attack and to make sure we stayed together so I could reach the car too, that's when the hatred turned on me."

Stanger said that a "thug grabbed me by the hair and another shoved me in a different direction. I noticed signs with expletives and my name on them. ... For those of you who marched in Washington the day after the inauguration, imagine being in a crowd like that, only being surrounded by hatred rather than love. I feared for my life."

Murray also wrote about the experience, noting the mob attack came despite the presence of "two large and capable security guards." Seems that among the mob "a big man with a sign was standing right in front of us and wasn't going to let us pass," Murray said. Their only option? Walking right toward the guy as a security guard "pushed him aside," he recalled.

"The three of us got to the car, with the security guards keeping protesters away while we closed and locked the doors," Murray said. "Then we found that the evening wasn't over. So many protesters surrounded the car, banging on the sides and the windows and rocking the car, climbing onto the hood."

They actually had to take a "decoy route" to their post-event dinner, Stanger wrote, adding she told a colleague she "felt proud of myself for not having slugged someone." But the respite was short-lived. Stanger said they were told the protesters knew where they were.

"We raced back to the car, driving over the curb and sidewalk to escape quickly," Stanger recalled. "It was then we decided that it was probably best to leave town."

After all was said and done, Stanger needed a trip to the emergency room and was diagnosed with a concussion. "This was the saddest day of my life," she said.

Here's a clip from the protest. (Content warning:Rough language, from mouths and on signs):

Middlebury College protest against author Charles Murrayyoutu.be

(H/T: The College Fix)

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