Did you know that only 1 race out of the entire SGA election is contested this year? (Sophomore senator; everybody else automatically wins.) This is RIDICULOUS (ghastly, abhorrent, bizzare, ugly and embarrassing are also terms I would use to describe the situation). One of my top priorities is to take an in-depth look at the reasons behind this and get more people to run next year.
The (temporary) proctoring of tests in the core econ courses makes me feel that we’ve given up on the honor code, and I don’t like it. I think we need to rethink it from the bottom up. In Community Council Ben Bogin has been leading a discussion on a social honor code, one that encompasses non-academic life. Can we create an honor code for both faculty and students that encompasses both academic and social community standards, that when implemented on a grand scale over many years could become a (truly) core component of what it means to be a member of the Middlebury community? I don't know if it's possible, but I would like to give it a shot.
An actual quote from Dr. King himself. It’s inconsistent for Middlebury to talk about global diversity and have something called “AAL”. Actually, regardless of our international reputation, having AAL is disrespectful and ultimately degrades the quality of our education. The SGA has worked on breaking up AAL in the past (EUR, NOR, Latin America, Asia and Africa, choose 3; EUR NOR, Latin America, Asia and Africa, do one NOR, one Latin America, Asia or Africa, and last one's free choice; throw Middle East into the mix; etc.) and the administration has responded by saying they're overhauling the entire Culture and Civ distribution requirement soon, and they'll rename it then. However, I think it's still important to change it in the meantime. I suppose another option would be to create “EOAAAL” (Europe, Oceania, Asia, Africa, Antarctica and Latin America) and rename NOR to “American Exceptionalism”.
If it’s financially and logistically feasible, I’d like to be able to print last night’s homework at breakfast, without walking too far. For me, time spent getting to a printer before class is time better spent… doing almost anything other than that. Honestly, this doesn't sound too feasible but I'd like to try.
There is no easy answer, but we that doesn’t mean we can’t stop trying. We can get more creative. Can we find funding to have sports teams fundraise by putting out dish collection boxes and then bringing them back? What other ideas are out there? Dishes leaving the dining hall and not coming back is kind of like underage drinking or premarital sex: it’s against the rules, and in the case of dishes it's immoral and entitled and lazy, but it’s going to happen, and the first step to mitigating the damage is to acknowledge that it happens.
I think the First-Year Committee did a splendid job with the Major Discussion. I think we can keep going – I recently had the opportunity to interview a potential candidate for CCI Director, who had some great ideas about increased access and advising from alumni and professors within the major, both before and after declaring. I’m about to declare but I haven’t talked to a single professor within the major. Sure, that’s silliness on my part, but the process could also be just a little bit easier and more informed.
I support Taylor Custer’s idea of extending Thanksgiving break to one full week; I especially agree with his argument that people leaving early also degrades the classroom experience of those that do not leave early. (Or, it’s just a really easy way to get participation points.) I’m curious, though, as to what that would mean for the dates of the academic year - I'd want to do more research before making a recommendation to the administration.
Many of the issues we talk about in Community Council - not enough people running for Senate, honor code violations, excessive move-out waste, not returning dining hall dishes - are usually exacerbated by the amount of pressure placed on some students to “succeed”.
Why do we have curves? If you think about it, separating A-students from C-students fundamentally operates under the assumptions that 1. we are measureable on a meaningful scale and 2. not all of us are capable of success. If a test really tests the right information, and teachers are offering different ways of learning, then all students should have the ability to succeed. Does a grade reflect your effort or improvement or overall knowledge? If you didn’t have grades, would you participate in more extracurriculars that give you skills that are just as valuable as those gained in classes? People like to talk about preparation for the future, but aren't grades just the opposite of “real life”?
There are a lot of schools that don’t give out grades but instead teacher comments, like Reed College and Burlington College, and I think it’s worth investigating for future generations. Could students that would prefer to not receive letter grades, but instead teacher comments, opt into a different evaluation track? Yes, this is very far-fetched but I think grades aren’t as necessary as we think they are. I’d like to talk to Dean Collado and get some cursory opinions from the administration.
While there isn’t a perfect rideshare system, I think there is a better way to coordinate students who are able to give rides and students who need rides. There’ve been past efforts to create a Middlebury Rideshare site, and the implementation is very complicated, but I'ved talked to the SGA Director of Transportation and the first step at least is to have a Middlebury Rideshare-specific Facebook page, similar to Free and For Sale.
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I want to work myself out of a job.
A huge part of what makes Midd special is its socioeconomic diversity, in part due to its endowment and need-blind admissions policy. But "need-blind" doesn't equate to "easy". Right now, outside scholarships are deducted from financial aid packages, making it difficult to make up any difference between actual need and what the school awards. The SGA is exploring this right now and I’m committed to carrying the investigation through next year.
Financial Aid and Outside Scholarships
Can we reinvigorate the honor code?
"AAL anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
Increased support when choosing a major.
How do we solve the dining hall dishes problem?
Printers in the dining halls? Or at least nearer?
Extending Thanksgiving Break
A Better Rideshare System
The current SGA and the student web designer did an excellent job creating MiddCourses. Ya can’t just buy plant a seed and not water it, though. I think it’s very important we keep the momentum going and maybe make a few visual adjustments.
Increase MiddCourses' Momentum
"I just met you. And this is crazy. But if you think it's weird we still use letter grades, email me maybe."
- Carly Rae Jepsen
Where are we in process of all of the projects? Why weren't some projects possbile? I love that President Liddell writes for The Campus every week, and I think we should also make the front page of the SGA website updates on where we are on each project, increase our Facebook presence and maybe write for MiddBeat more often.
"Brought To You By The SGA"
Part of getting people to run is creating transparency about what the SGA does, and why it's so incredibly interesting and exciting once you're a part of it. Some things that it brings to the school:
- ALL OF THE FUNDING FOR ALL OF THE STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS (Big deal? You decide.)
ex. RENT, social house funding, Women's and Men's Rugby, crew, the Community Service Cluster Board, Sailing, Frisbee, DMC, Baseball Analytics Club, Equestrian Club, Ping Pong Club, Q&A, MEAT Club, Alianza, lots of parties, and 100+ more.
- MCAB, so essentially most of the small speakers, the big speakers, the small concerts, the big concerts, the giveaways...
- the new course eval site
- break busses
- newspapers in the dining halls
- the Educational Affairs Committee, the Enviornmental Affairs Committee, the commmittee that decides who gets awards, the committee that discusses the comprehensive fee, and many, many other committees....
- the new eateries in BiHall and the CFA
- lots lots more
I think if we started to label all of the things that are a product of the SGA's work, the interest in the SGA would skyrocket.