SGA Update

By Will DiGravio

President Ilana Gratch ’16 began the Jan. 24 meeting of the Student Government Association (SGA) with the announcement of a new working group to examine dynamics of power and inclusivity on campus. The hope is to implement courses on these topics into the College’s curriculum.

Gratch also announced that the Feb election will take place on Feb. 25 and that, despite a special election held earlier this fall, both seats will be up for election.

Speaker of the Senate Reshma Gogineni ’16 shared that she is currently working to update MiddCourses with faulty biographies and information on teaching styles.

Wonnacott Senator Lisa Han ’16 reported that funds have been secured to purchase rental skates for Kenyon Arena. Once storage space for the skates is obtained, the skates will be ordered and made available for students.

SGA Treasurer Aaron de Toledo updated the group that the finance committee will be taking new money requests until Apr. 1. Most organizations have already made their new money requests and the committee is currently transitioning to look at spring budgeting. He also shared that the yearbook came in $22,000 under budget and that money will be returned to the SGA.

Senators discussed a proposal to purchase an app and website called LaundryView that would allow students to view when their laundry is finished and when machines are available for use. Last year, the SGA passed a bill to fund half ($3,500) of the project, but the College is not able to pay the other half of the cost. President Gratch shared that one potential way to fund the project would be to increase the cost of laundry by $0.25 for every wash and dry cycle. Senators discussed the merits of the additional cost and came to the consensus that doing so would not be beneficial to students.

The meeting concluded with a discussion of creating an SGA-run Facebook group/page to share information and resources about diversity and racism. Senators were skeptical of the effectiveness of such a group. Many agreed that, if it were implemented, it would have to be a small part of an overall effort by the SGA.

At the Jan. 31 meeting, Associate Dean of Students for Residential and Student Life Doug Adams asked the SGA for feedback on how rooms should be assigned in the new Ridgeline Housing Complex. According to Adams, students have expressed frustration with the room draw system, and asked that a new method be implemented for the project. Senators agreed that since one of the goals of the new housing is to keep students on campus, seniority should play a role in the process. President Gratch agreed that seniority should be considered, but pointed out that Febs may be disadvantaged should they choose to live with an individual one semester below them, versus one semester above.

First-Year Senator Charles Rainey ’19 introduced a bill recommending that Middlebury College President Laurie L. Patton send an all-school email addressing the controversial comments on affirmative action that the now late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made in December. The bill also called for President Patton to address the MLK Today event held in Mead Chapel on Jan. 18 that, as worded in the bill, “featured numerous highly offensive and post-racial actions (to name a few of a long list: a majority white oratory choir reading black experiences in the first-person, white students delivering quotes in a context that police POC’s reactions to racism and songs repeated by the entire chapel suggesting POCs smile and many more).” After much debate, the resolution passed six to four, with two abstentions.

Senator Rainey introduced another bill that called for the SGA to release its own statement to the student body addressing both the MLK Today event and Justice Scalia’s comments. The resolution passed seven to five, with one abstention.