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Middlebury students protest white nationalist speaker

March 4, 2017

Administrators at Middlebury College were forced to cancel a public lecture by Dr. Charles Murray, a political scientist and fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, due to overwhelming protest by students before the event began. Students chanted and waved signs expressing that Murray’s beliefs—which they perceived to be white supremacist—did not deserve a platform on Middlebury’s campus. Instead, Middlebury opted to livestream a conversation between Murray and Professor of International Politics and Economics Allison Stanger, which took place in a private location.

Murray had been invited by the school’s American Enterprise Club, and the lecture was co-sponsored by the political science department.

In the weeks leading up to the lecture, a number of Middlebury students, faculty and alumni expressed concerns about Murray’s beliefs. The Southern Poverty Law Center identifies Murray as a white nationalist. Murray coauthored a 1994 book titled “The Bell Curve,” which suggests that IQ differences are partially genetic and are responsible for racial inequality.

More than 600 students and faculty signed a letter to Middlebury President Laurie Patton condemning Murray’s invitation and Patton’s decision to give introductory remarks, according to the Vermont Digger. Additionally, over 450 Middlebury alumni signed a letter published in the Middlebury Campus condemning Murray’s invitation.

“This is not an issue of freedom of speech,” they wrote. “We think it is necessary to allow a diverse range of perspectives to be voiced at Middlebury … However, in this case we find the principle does not apply, due to not only the nature, but also the quality, of Dr. Murray’s scholarship. He paints arguments for the biological and intellectual superiority of white men with a thin veneer of quantitative rhetoric and academic authority.”


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