“At a meeting last week at Middlebury College, students upset and angry that conservative Ryszard Legutko had been invited to speak on campus were calmed and reassured by three administrators who apologized to the students for their feelings of discomfort, agreed that they had every right to feel aggrieved, and assured them there’s steps underway to ensure controversial right-wing speakers are not easily invited to campus in the future,” reported Jennifer Kabbany of The College Fix this week. “That according to a 40-minute recording of the meeting recorded surreptitiously by a student in the room…who said the three administrators at the meeting were Sujata Moorti, the incoming dean of the faculty, as well as Dean of Students, Baishakhi Taylor, and Renee Wells, director of education for equity and inclusion.”
The “student in the room” cited in this report—that was me. But before I discuss the controversy over Legutko, let me offer a brief flashback to February 6, 2019.
At the time, I was beginning my first semester of college as what Middlebury calls a “Feb”: Along with about 80 or 90 classmates, I was beginning my college education a semester late. I moved in while most of the campus was away on break, and spent the week getting to know the other Feb freshmen. It was essentially a week full of fun activities and bonding on an idyllic private liberal-arts college campus in rural Vermont. Along with everyone else, I was encouraged to believe that this is what the whole Middlebury experience would be like. And maybe, in times of yore, it was. But not in this era, when students are encouraged to experience campus life as one long sequence of ideologically-inflicted psychic traumas.