Community Council Update

By Emma Dunlap

Community Council met on Monday, Jan. 19, to continue its conversation about the possibility of lifting restrictions that prevent students from arriving on campus the Saturday before Winter Term. This discussion was made in response to the frequency with which students encounter travel issues. Community Council Co-chair Ben Bogin ’15 estimated that it would cost Middlebury about $7000 to open campus (including dining costs and staff and faculty wages.) a day earlier.

If we allow all students to come home on Saturday it is going to preempt staff to lose some time off,” said Office & Budget Manager for Student Activities Maria Farnsworth.

There was discussion surrounding the idea of opening up the campus on Saturday for only pre-approved people versus everyone. “It creates a lot of administrative hassle for whoever has to approve all of those people,” said SGA President Taylor Custer ’15, regarding the fact that Commons Deans would have to meet with all students seeking early arrival. Bogin suggested a resolution that would make it easier for a student to receive a Dean’s excuse to come back Saturday.. The council will vote on the resolution at a later date. 

The council heard from Associate Dean of Students for Residential and Student Life Doug Adams regarding the college’s hazing policy. 

Community Council’s meeting on Monday, Jan. 26 welcomed guest speakers from various social and special interest houses to discuss Public Safety walk-throughs. Community Council member Reid Manheim ’17 proposed a resolution that would prevent Public Safety officers from walking through junior and senior housing including social houses and to move building checks from the evening to earlier in the day.

Kelsey O’Day, a member of Tavern House and the President of the Interhouse Council, said that members of various houses have been discussing this topic for the past couple of months. O’Day said that a good relationship with Public Safety is vital and that they constantly rely on the help of Public Safety officers, but that they feel that there is a lack of trust between the officers and students living in the houses.

“The interesting aspect of it is that members of social houses go through a lot of trainings, like how to have a good party and be a good party member, and are trained in anti-hazing… with that, we think we deserve even more trust than, say, the students in Atwater that may not have that training,” said O’Day.

The guest students agreed that there appeared to be a lack of consistency in the frequency with which various houses see public safety patrols. The consensus was that The Mill and KDR do not see Public Safety Officers as much as the Ridgeline houses.

Associate Dean of the College and the Director of Public Safety Lisa Burchard responded to student statements, saying that one of the reasons Public Safety Officers may be seen at these residences more than others is because of the large capacity of such spaces. “We do try for consistency… The Ridgeline houses are still in a remote area and have had problems, sometimes that have nothing to do with students. Officers walk through on weeknights to make sure nothing is developing,” said Burchard.

O’Day reiterated that officers coming through without reason such as a noise complaint “makes us feel uncomfortable in our own space.”

“At the same time, it is College property,” responded Community Council Co-Chair and Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of the College Katy Smith Abbott. 

Community Council reconvened on Feb. 9and further discussed Bogin’s proposal to make arrival to campus on the Saturday before Winter Term classes begin a more viable option for students. The council agreed that students could indicate their arrival date on BannerWeb rather than apply through their Commons Dean.

The Council voted on the BannerWeb method with 4 in favor, 3 opposed, and 8 abstaining.