From the President’s Desk

By Guest Contributor

Just two days ago, hundreds of millions of Americans exercised their right to vote — they cared enough about the issues at stake to take the time to make their voices heard.

As SGA president this year, I’ve dealt with campus issues that run the gamut — including student programming, funding, college governance, communications, as well as some of the more mundane elements of student life. Across these diverse issue areas, I’ve found that one theme predominates: the need for student engagement with Middlebury as an institution.

Our campus is full of potential leaders and creative thinkers. My peers and friends impress me every day with their involvement on campus, and this is perhaps one of my favorite aspects of being a student here. Nonetheless, despite the quantity and quality of potential leaders, our campus suffers from a lack of student engagement with institutional policy. In fairness, students are busy — we have challenging academics, usually a few extracurricular activities or a sport schedule to navigate and social obligations as well. This is part of the lifestyle we choose when we choose Middlebury, and most of us wouldn’t have it any other way.

But while I know most of us are proud to spend four years here, few of us are fully satisfied with Middlebury institutionally — whether it is social life, endowment policy, academic policy or anything in between, many students feel there are areas where Middlebury could improve.

To those students, I say: on a campus as small and as codependent as ours, engagement really matters. Individuals can have a lasting impact on College policy or student life. Our carbon neutrality initiative, Alcohol and Social Life Task Force, Middview, the new Pass-Fail option and others are the products of student engagement with the institution.

The administration and the Board of Trustees are not the enemy of student welfare — not only do they want student input, they often beg for it. Being busy is legitimate, but we all abdicate the right to complain when we don’t attempt to make our voices heard.

I encourage students to engage more actively with institutional policy by attending open meetings, providing feedback when requested and making student viewpoints clear. We all have opinions on the issues that Old Chapel deals with. Sometimes, there will be student consensus around an issue; other times, a split will exist. But no one with power to change policy can act on our views if they don’t know they exist.

Most of us took time out of our days to be one voice in a chorus of millions seeking to influence the direction of our country. In our small community, our voices count for much more. We should all be more active in engaging with Middlebury.