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Charles Murray, Middlebury College

March 2017
Middlebury College (Private college or university)
Middlebury, Vermont, United States

Identity of Speakers

  • Charles Murray
    Unaffiliated
    Invited for non-academic lecture

    Charles Murray is the W.H. Brady scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Resources

Additional Information

  • Incident Nature:
    University-sponsored lecture/address/panel
    Recognized student group event
  • Incident Responses:
    University administration protective of speech
    Campus police
  • Incident Status:
    No litigation
  • No protest Occured
  • Did not involve Speech Codes

Summary

Charles Murray is the W.H. Brady scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and is known for his controversial views linking race and intelligence that he popularized in his bestselling book, The Bell Curve (1994). Murray was invited to speak on Middlebury’s campus by a student group affiliated with AEI, an event that was also co-sponsored by the college’s political science department.

On March 2, 2017, Murray was introduced to a lecture hall full of Middlebury students and faculty. Before Murray took to the stage, several Middlebury officials reminded students that they were allowed to protest but not to disrupt the talk. As Murray began to speak, a majority of students stood up, turned their backs to the stage, and began reading from a scripted statement. After this, they began chanting slogans such as “Charles Murray, go away. Middlebury says no way” and “Who is the enemy? White Supremacy.” After the students chanted for about 20 minutes, college officials announced that the lecture was cancelled, and that Murray would proceed to another room where he would be interviewed by a faculty member for a livestream. When Murray moved to the other room, protestors pulled fire alarms in the hallway.

After the livestream concluded, Murray and the professor who interviewed him left the building with the college’s vice president of communications and two campus security officers. As they made their way to a waiting car, they were confronted by a group of masked protestors who blocked their path. In the ensuing scrum, the faculty interviewer suffered a concussion when someone grabbed her hair and twisted her neck. After Murray and the others made it the car, the protestors rocked it back and forth and jumped on the hood.

Afterwards, the president of the college apologized to Murray, promising accountability. In the weeks after the incident, more than five dozen Middlebury College students were disciplined, with sanctions ranging from probation to official college discipline. However, none of the students were suspended or expelled.