SGA Senators Elected, Talk Goals

By Will DiGravio

Four students were elected to the Student Government Association Senate last Thursday. This fall’s ballot was especially full. Not only were there the annual elections for the two first-year senators, but there were also two special elections to fill the Atwater Senator and Feb senator positions. Michael Brady ’17.5 resigned as Feb Senator after being appointed Chief of Staff for SGA President Ilana Gratch ’16. Daria Cenedella ’18 was elected Atwater senator last spring but resigned at the beginning of the fall semester.

“I have chosen personally to resign because I feel that someone else may be better suited to serve on the SGA, and I know many of you within our Commons have the passion and drive to do such,“ Cenedella said.
Replacing Brady is Millie von Platen ’18.5. In an interview with The Campus, von Platen expressed her hope to be a reliable channel of communication between the SGA and Febs. According to von Platen, many students have little to no idea what exactly SGA’s role is — she hopes to change that by increasing transparency. One of her goals is to make reaching out to SGA officers as easy as possible, and she wants to inspire all members of the Middlebury community to care about student and campus life.

“It’s our job to make people interested about what’s going on,” von Platen said.

Von Platen may find an ally in her call for greater transparency in newly elected Atwater Senator Jigar Bhakta ’18, who also cites the need for more community involvement in SGA matters. Bhakta is interested in extending dining hall hours longer into the evening.

“For those with late classes and packed evening schedules, getting food can be a huge problem,” Bhakta said.

Bhakta also advocates for implementing new intramural activities that promote unity between the Commons. He believes that there need to be more opportunities to meet students in other Commons, and views healthy competitions between the Commons as an ideal way to grow a sense of community on campus. When asked why he ran, Bhakta simply replied, “It felt right.”

In a field of six candidates, Charles Rainey ’19 and Kieran Parikh ’19 were elected first- year senators. Parikh said he decided to run after a revelation that he had in his own life that all too often individuals only see things in black and white, and do not adequately listen to one another. One of his goals is to be able to “listen to all concerns as best as possible and be able to address them regardless of personal beliefs.”

Rainey decided to run because of his involvement in high school. Having come from a high school where he was heavily involved with student life, Rainey wanted to take this passion and get involved with issues here at Middlebury.

Both Parikh and Rainey, like von Platen and Bhakta, cited the need to increase communication and transparency between the SGA and the student body. Rainey, however, sees one of the main jobs of the SGA to promote inclusion on campus. He hopes to play a role in normalizing conversations about race,
gender, equality and sexual orientation.

“We need to create an environment conducive to living for everyone,” Rainey said.