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How UVM, Middlebury and Dartmouth are responding to the pro-Palestinian protests

A sign says "our liberation will be collective" leans against a red tent with several students standing next to it.
Lexi Krupp
Vermont Public
Students at the University of Vermont and Middlebury College erected encampments last weekend to show solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

At college and university campuses across the country, students are protesting the war in Gaza. They’re calling on their school administrations to take action with the tools they have, like their endowments. Protester demands include divesting from companies doing business in Israel, cutting ties with schools in Israel and immunity for protesters.

The responses from school administrations have varied widely. Some have struck deals with protesters, like at Northwestern and Brown. Others have forcibly removed encampments, or canceled graduation ceremonies.

Here's how the the administrations of University of Vermont, Middlebury College and Dartmouth College have responded to pro-Palestinian protests on campus in recent days.

University of Vermont

The University of Vermont has initiated disciplinary action against student protesters while taking actions in line with protesters' demands, including disclosing more information about university investments and canceling the planned commencement speech by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

Among the students facing disciplinary hearings is Marek Broderick, a junior at UVM and Burlington city councilor for Ward 8.

Reasons for discipline include students failing to identify themselves and impending investigation, Broderick said on Vermont Edition Monday.

"Some people, including myself, who received that charge, were not even present to identify ourselves at the encampment," he said.

Broderick also said that students received disciplinary action for "trespassing upon, forcibly entering or otherwise proceeding into unauthorized areas of the university. That would be being on the Green at the time of the encampment, whether or not you are in a tent, whether or not you set up a tent."

Broderick said it was ridiculous and frivolous to put students — his constituents — through this.

"These are my fellow students and we are peacefully protesting... I'm very proud of [them] for remaining strong and fighting for divestment," he said.

University of Vermont students and community members gathered Monday to call for amnesty for students taking part in the ongoing encampment.

Student organizers with the group Students for Justice in Palestine say the school has already started communicating with individual students about disciplinary proceedings.

James O'Malley, a junior, said he and other students in the encampment see the proceedings as an "escalation" and want the university to negotiate with them rather than fall back on disciplinary actions.

"We believe that the university should come to the table rather than initiating disciplinary proceedings," he said. "And now that they have initiated disciplinary proceedings, the conversation about amnesty, and the demand of amnesty becomes more real and tangible."

Matt Vogel, executive director of UVM Hillel, said he's heard from students at the encampments with concerns for their own safety and who are afraid to walk to into the library.

"There is discrimination being based on people's shared ancestry happening at this university right now," Vogel said. "And again, it's an opportunity for the UVM to uphold their own policies to protect all students."

The UVM encampment has grown substantially. Organizers wrote in an update Sunday night that it had grown to 91 tents.

Middlebury College

Middlebury College students, administrators and faculty released a statement Monday committing to actions to move forward from the protests.

The document, titled A Commitment to Common Educational Values, outlines shared values and steps the college is taking to move forward. One of the steps they plan to take is sharing information about investments regularly with students.

Meanwhile, according to a letter from President Laurie L. Patton, students are taking down their encampment.

"We are committed to a safe and joyful graduation where everyone and their families can participate," the joint statement reads.

Linus Owens, associate professor of sociology at Middlebury who studies social movements and protests, said he was critical of Middlebury in a previous appearance on Vermont Edition for the college's response to student protests over a campus visit from conservative author Charles Murray. The current response, Owens said, is a contrast.

"This time, I think their willingness to listen to students and not to crack down immediately shows a real positive example of what's possible," Owens said. "Particularly, even following the statement, we're not sure to what extent those demands will be met in the long run, but I do think that their willingness to sit down and take the students seriously, rather than treat them as an annoyance or worse, shows that there's a possibility to find some kind of common ground."

Dartmouth College

At Dartmouth College, 90 people were arrested May 1 shortly after students set up an encampment on the Dartmouth Green, according to New Hampshire Public Radio.

Hanover Police said in a statement that the arrests were for multiple offenses including criminal trespass and resisting arrest.

Among those arrested was a 65-year-old faculty member Annelise Orleck. Video of her tumbling to the ground and being arrested has gone viral.

Student journalist Alesandra Gonzales, wearing a photographer’s ID, was pulled from an area near the green with other reporters and ziptied after recording Orleck's arrest for The Dartmouth, the school’s independent student newspaper.

Fellow student journalist Charlotte Hampton was also arrested. Hampton had a press lanyard from the college’s office of communications.

“I of course identified myself as press multiple times during my arrest.” Gonzales said. “Charlotte made an attempt to tell them that I was press and said something along the lines of them not arresting me because I was press, and that’s when she was arrested.”

The two reporters were transported by university vans — with the logo of the school’s Outing Club partially concealed — to the Lebanon Police Department and charged with criminal trespass.

Earlier in the day, Provost David F. Kotz had warned students against setting up tents.

“Students, employees, and organizations in violation of Dartmouth policies or local laws will be immediately subject to Dartmouth’s disciplinary processes, which could include separation and expulsion,” Kotz wrote. “Students and employees violating local laws may also be subject to law enforcement action based on Hanover ordinances.”

Following the arrests, a coalition of Dartmouth College faculty members is urging the college to ask prosecutors to drop the charges.

This episode of Vermont Edition also included conversations with Valley News reporter Frances Mize, Dartmouth Professor Annelise Orleck and Noah Diedrich, assistant news editor of The Vermont Cynic at UVM.

Vermont Public's Zoe McDonald and Corey Dockser contributed reporting.

Broadcast live on Monday, May 6, 2024, at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

Have questions, comments, or tips? Send us a message or check us out on Instagram.

Mikaela Lefrak is the host and senior producer of Vermont Edition. Her stories have aired nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Marketplace, The World and Here & Now. A seasoned local reporter, Mikaela has won two regional Edward R. Murrow awards and a Public Media Journalists Association award for her work.
Andrea Laurion joined Vermont Public as a news producer for Vermont Edition in December 2022. She is a native of Pittsburgh, Pa., and a graduate of the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine. Before getting into audio, Andrea worked as an obituary writer, a lunch lady, a wedding photographer assistant, a children’s birthday party hostess, a haunted house actor, and an admin assistant many times over.
Corey Dockser is Vermont Public’s first data journalist, a role combining programming and journalism to produce stories that would otherwise go unheard. His work ranges from complex interactive visualizations to simple web scraping and data cleaning. Corey graduated from Northeastern University in 2022 with a BS in data science and journalism. He previously worked at The Buffalo News in Buffalo, New York as a Dow Jones News Fund Data Journalism intern, and at The Boston Globe.