The Middlebury Campus

Community Council Update

By Nick Garber

On Monday, Dec. 7, Community Council held its final meeting of the fall semester.

Student Co-Chair Tiff Chang ’17.5 began by noting that the Student Government Association recently passed two recommendations – an extension of the add/drop deadline and an extension of the Pass/D/Fail option – which both grew out of discussions originally held in Community Council about academic stress.

The council then considered the recent campus-wide discussions on cultural appropriation and inclusivity. Several members shared that they were supportive of the most recent Town Hall meeting, but wished that it could have been held in a larger venue and at a more convenient time of day, since many potential dissenting voices seemed absent from the discussion.

Public Safety Telecom Manager and Tech Support Specialist Solon Coburn noted, however, that the problem of an insufficiently large venue was “a good problem to have.”

Some faculty members on the Council shared their disappointment that students seemed hesitant to turn to professors to discuss issues of race and class, particularly professors who study those very topics.

Additionally, the question was raised of whether Community Council should begin to tackle those issues, especially in light of student protests at Yale University and the University of Missouri. Members generally agreed that such subjects would probably be best addressed within larger topics that the Council plans to review later in the academic year.

The Council had planned to end Monday’s meeting – the culmination of a semester-long focus on stress – by formulating an official recommendation to President of the College Laurie L. Patton. However, several staff members stated that they felt uncomfortable forming a recommendation primarily on academic stress – a subject about which they have little knowledge. Furthermore, some members pointed out that the Community Council’s charter specifies that it must address only non-academic issues.

“I’m wondering if there needs to be a conversation about what we’re allowed to do and whether that needs to change, in the wording of the way we were chartered as a body,” Ethan Brady ’18 said.

In the end, the Council agreed that the best option would likely be the creation of a smaller task force focusing specifically on stress. This task force would be given a list of specific issue areas generated by Community Council, each of which would be categorized as either a short-term, mid-term or long-term goal.

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