Campus Reform | Vermont college holds Black Lives Matter protest despite COVID restrictions

Vermont college holds Black Lives Matter protest despite COVID restrictions

Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont held a student-organized BLM protest with over 500 attendees.

The college has a gathering restriction of 10 people for social gatherings indoor or outdoor.

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A college in Vermont recently held a Black Lives Matter protest with more than 500 people, despite coronavirus restrictions.

Middlebury College hosted a protest on September 25 over the decision not to arrest the police officers who fatally shot Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky. The protest was organized by students in approximately 24 hours and, according to The Middlebury Campus student newspaper, faculty and staff from the school helped to organize the protest and make sure that COVID-19 procedures were followed. 

While students were reportedly kept in groups of ten, pictures of the event raise questions as to whether those procedures were followed.

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This protest came within two weeks of 22 students being removed from the campus for violating COVID-19 guidelines and of the school moving into Phase 2 of its reopening, which limited gatherings to groups of 10 or fewer, "indoors or outdoors."

“For Middlebury to continue our in-person residential experience, we expect all members of our community to follow the guidelines for a successful Phase 2,” Middlebury Dean of Students Derek Doucet said. “Our requirements are designed to protect the entire community. Adhering to them is of the utmost importance as we continue to live with this pandemic.”

Currently, under Phase 2 guidelines at the college, there is a “10-person maximum for casual/social gatherings and only in locations where strict physical distancing is possible.”

 The notice on the university website makes clear that “this applies to all gatherings—indoors or outdoors, on or off-campus.”

While some faculty were reportedly at the protest, there has been no official statement from the school condemning or approving the event. 

However, the school’s Twitter account made a statement concerning an alleged incident of racial discrimination the night of the protest.

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Middlebury College has had little to no problem staying away from the coronavirus. According to the school’s COVID-19 dashboard, since late July, the school has seen a total of two positive tests. Despite the low number of positive tests, there has been a high number of punishments for not following guidelines. 

As of October 19, 90 students had been sanctioned for violations, and 27 have been removed from campus, including the 22 who were removed shortly before the protest.

“I am more afraid of getting brutalized by the police than getting coronavirus, and I’m scared of getting Covid-19,” protest organizer Kaila Thomas said, according to the student newspaper. “This is as pressing as coronavirus measures right now.”

Middlebury College did not respond to Campus Reform’s request for comment in time for publication.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Dean_Barker