At Middlebury College, satirists pay a price.
That’s what five students learned after distributing a fake press release last month claiming that, in honor of the Dalai Lama’s visit, the college was divesting from companies that support war or environmental destruction.
The press release was a hoax meant to draw attention to what students see as the college’s hypocrisy in publicly touting values of sustainability while privately investing in companies the students suspect are socially irresponsible.
But Middlebury’s response was dead serious: It put the pranksters on trial for violating school policy in the first public judicial hearing on campus in more than five years.
The five students on trial — Molly Stuart, Jay Saper, Sam Koplinka-Loehr, Amitai Ben-Abba and Jenny Marks — nabbed statewide media attention last month after they outed themselves as the masterminds behind the prank. But just days after they came clean, they learned that the college was investigating their action for potential violations of college policy — charges punishable by suspension or even expulsion.