Community Council Update

By Emma Dunlap

Community Council had several guest students attend the meeting on November 10, 2014 that offered new perspectives on student social life at Middlebury. The council discussed current issues surrounding social life at Middlebury as well as how the council can create a forum to continue discussing possible solutions to making Middlebury more inclusive.

After the meeting held by President Liebowitz to discuss social life on Sunday, Nov. 2, the council is looking at hosting another meeting and possibly regularly scheduled forums to continue the discussion. Guest student Jeremy Stratton-Smith ’17 stated he believed there were numerous attendees at the meeting held on Nov. 2 who had not encountered many of the issues with social life that others had brought up.

Stratton-Smith said, “It speaks to the need for there to be a wide range of people at these meetings.”

Guest student Carter Kelly ’15 stated that the end goal for these meetings should be to make the College a more inclusive space.

Kelly said, “There are a lot of us that don’t feel like we have a place on this campus…these forums are a springboard for making people more aware of these issues.”

Guest student Octavio Webster ’17 said, “We want to develop a sense of urgency that a lot of students are not very happy on this campus because they do not fit into this normative culture.”

Guest student Amari Simpson ’16 added that these forums could be a platform to discuss the issues faced by students of color and other marginalized identities.

“The social life forum was probably the most well attended forum that this campus has seen in a long time,” Horticulturalist Tim Parsons said.

Attracting as many members to the meetings as possible will be one of the council’s main goals moving forward. Stratton-Smith stated that the “modes of communications with the college are not fulfilling,” and that the forum could potentially fill that role, allowing students to discuss and define what about social life at Middlebury they want to change.

Stratton-Smith said the council has a “unique opportunity to set a precedent,” given upcoming changes in the administration and the election of Middlebury’s new president, Laurie L. Patton, having been announced earlier this week. The discussion of social life and general inclusiveness and community at Middlebury will be a topic of priority and continued discussion by the council. 

During the council’s November 17th meeting, members discussed issues surrounding the Feb program. Ilana Gratch ’16.5 said that she has heard that “during [a Feb’s] time at Midd, you are always a little off balance and don’t quite fit into the four year mold.” She also shared general frustrations she has heard from other Febs that they don’t integrate into their commons well because the “miss out on the first year rush of students” and their living situation is different than that of the September students.

Seminars, commons and orientation groups are not connected for the Febs, unlike those for students admitted in September. Gratch stated this potentially contributes to Febs feeling less connected to the commons community.

On the other hand, Dean of Students and Community Council Co-Chair Katy Smith-Abbot said “there is a natural intense bonding [experience] that happens for Febs” because they are such a small and close group, and that she would hate to lose that connection by integrating Febs with the regular campus rather than focus on creating a close community of Feb students. The council acknowledged that this is certainly not a new issue and that they will continue to talk about it in future meetings.