SGA Update

By Kyle Naughton, SGA Correspondent & Senior Writer

The April 23rd meeting of the Student Government Association (SGA) began with senatorial updates regarding constituent feedback. Senator Pustejovsky first outlined her constituents’ concern over the current laundry system and the limited amount of options available to students. Doug Adams, the Associate Dean of Students for Residential and Student Life, stated that the SGA could potentially work alongside business services and the laundry vendor to eventually establish an alternative system.

Kevin Benscheidt presented the SGA Finance Committee (SGAFC) end of year report, asserting that this year’s expenditure of around $1.1 million was slightly less than last year’s.

The April 30th meeting of the SGA began with a discussion of the new housing system and the glitches that occurred during the registration process. Doug Adams asserted that after the system reboot on Wednesday, rising juniors and seniors could complete their housing registration without issues. Sophomores’ subsequent registration issues were eventually resolved, and the single/double draw would resume on Monday May 1st.

Colin Mackintosh ’17 presented the Endowment Affairs Report, stating that the college’s endowment has largely recouped all of its prior losses. However, David Provost, Middlebury’s Vice President for Finance, wants the college to transition from its current state of running a deficit into a system where revenues equal costs. Provost hopes to work with the SGA to determine what is financially important to students and save as many funds as the college can.

Senator Aaron and Senator Goldfield presented their Academic Freedom and Diversity Bill alongside Ivan Valladares ’17. This bill strives to reaffirm Middlebury’s commitment to the preservation of freedom of speech by enabling speakers to come to campus without the threat of disruption while also enforcing students’ right to peaceful protests that do not interrupt a speaker with the intent to censor. The co-sponsors stressed that this legislation was targeted towards fostering an open and inclusive campus where opposing viewpoints may be properly discussed and debated without the need for violence or censorship.

Senator Pustejovsky was uncertain over the specific changes this bill would implement that were not already incorporated into Middlebury’s handbook, questioning the need to define language that would most likely be ignored anyway. Senator Aaron responded that students’ tendency to ignore language regarding free-speech is particularly problematic and requires the college to reaffirm its commitment to diverse viewpoints.

Senator Fleischer and Senator Duran questioned the timing of this bill regarding both the passage of the Protest Reform Bill on April 23rd and the multitude of students currently facing charges for protesting Charles Murray’s event. Senator Wright expressed the need to further define the right to free speech within an inclusive atmosphere. Valladares responded that this bill and students’ right to protest are not mutually-exclusive, and that this bill is a good starting point to begin constructive discussions regarding the freedom of speech.

Senator Pustejovsky suggested that the SGA pushes the bill onto next year’s Senate rather than voting on it after a single week. Matthew Lantin ’19.5 asserted that many students on campus agree with this bill, and that tabling it for next year might be interpreted as an aversion from properly discussing the freedom of speech. While the bill was ultimately tabled, its co-sponsors remained insistent that the SGA vote on the legislation the following week.

Senator McCarthy then presented the Student Advisory Bill that strived to create a reliable Student Advisory Committee for all departments that include informal advising for majors and classes. This bill also sought to make the contact information of students on the Committees more accessible online. The legislation was unanimously approved.