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Community Council Update

Nick Garber

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On Tuesday, Feb. 16, Community Council welcomed Cheryl Mullins, Acting Associate Vice President for Human Resources. As the Council prepares in the coming weeks to tackle the issue of staff wages, Mullins gave a presentation explaining the College’s pay scale and why the College believes it pays a living wage to all of its employees.

The College’s current compensation system,  Mullins explained, dates back to 2005, and was the product of an extensive process that featured input from an international consulting company, community surveys and focus groups.

“The main objectives of our system were to come up with a program that would be really nimble,” she said. “Middlebury changes a lot, jobs are combined together, new things are added on and we need to be able to react really quickly.”

Additionally, the system needed to support employees’ abilities to advance within their field, and offer competitive market salaries to attract new hires while also rewarding good performance for individuals who were already employed at Middlebury. Finally, Mullins said, “We wanted something that was clear and understandable; we didn’t want employees to feel that compensation decisions were made in a black box.”

The final product was a system that divides College staff into four bands by their level of responsibility: Administrator, Manager, Specialist or Operations. Each band then contains several levels, with the lowest of all being level one of Operations.

The “worst-case scenario” in terms of compensation, Mullins said, is a group of nine Operations employees who make less than 9 dollars an hour. However, she emphasized that the group was “for the most part, very young” and had “little previous work experience.” Therefore, she said, such employees would likely be expected to move into a higher-paying job in the near future.

Dan Adamek ’18, expressed some uneasiness with Mullins’ rationale. “Just because someone doesn’t have experience, or just because they’re out of high school, does that mean they’re not entitled to a wage that adequately compensates them and allows them to live in a way that they’re not struggling day-to-day?” he asked.

Mullins responded that according to the College’s calculations, “We feel very confident that we are providing a living wage to our employees.” Furthermore, she explained, the College provides a generous benefits package that greatly increases the true value of employee compensation.

On Tuesday, Feb. 23, the Council began by voting to indefinitely table a motion calling for President of the College Laurie L. Patton to send a campus-wide email addressing the controversial MLK Today event and comments made by former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Given Patton’s recent article in The Campus which mentioned both topics, this motion would have been largely symbolic, but by a vote of eight to six, the Council voted to end discussion and move to a new subject.

Next, the Council discussed the proposal brought forward by Michael Geisler, VP for Risk and Compliance, to install security cameras at the entrances of dorms and/or in the entrance areas of dining halls. Geisler argued that the dorm cameras would help guard against unwanted visitors, while the dining hall cameras would help reduce thefts.

Before the Council voted on the proposals, Student Co-Chair Tiff Chang ’17.5 read statements from three student organizations who oppose the installation of cameras: Queers and Allies, Women of Color and Distinguished Men of Color. Citing the risk of disproportionate targeting of minorities, all three groups stated that they feared the installation of cameras would damage Middlebury’s inclusivity efforts.

Ultimately, the Council voted against installing dorm cameras by a vote of four to seven with three abstentions, and against dining hall cameras by a vote of four to nine, with one abstention.

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Community Council Update