Community Council Update

By John Gosselin, Senior Writer

At Community Council’s May 2 meeting, Associate Professor of French William Poulin-Deltour introduced a letter from faculty which suggests taking several steps to prepare Middlebury for changes to immigration policy under the Trump administration. The steps include establishing a response team of faculty and staff, devising a naturalization resource program and developing ways to further involve the community in response to immigration policy changes. After Poulin-Deltour introduced a revised draft on May 9, it was unanimously approved.

Assistant Professor of American Studies J Finley presented a recommendation proposing the development of a module for first-year Faculty Orientation intended to teach new faculty to avoid language and actions that assume socioeconomic homogeneity in the student body. After Community Council reached out to would-be affected parties, the “Recommendation for Faculty Training in Socioeconomic Issues” was passed at the May 9 meeting.

Student Co-Chair Travis Sanderson ’19 then presented a recommendation that the Admissions Office create a working group charged with developing a new pamphlet by the end of next academic year for low-income students. This new pamphlet would list resources available to low-income students and potential estimated family contributions instead of just the price of attending and room and board. After much discussion, Community Council decided to table this recommendation so that more information could be gathered and so that the relevant parties could be notified of its ramifications.

Co-Chair Abbott brought up the response to the financial aid recommendation sponsored by Charles Rainey ’19 and passed at the last meeting. An official from the financial services office responded that the reason Middlebury could not change its policies to those suggested by the recommendation was because the College participates in an agreement with its peer institutions. This agreement is in place because it standardizes financial aid policies between need-blind colleges.

On May 9, Doug Adams gave an update on social house reviews. He stated that all of the social house reports were satisfactory. Since the reports were sent to him after the agenda was set, it was impossible to have Community Council read the entire report before the meeting. He suggested that they approve this report in the fall term.

Afterwards, Community Council went into executive session to approve new Community Judicial Board and new Academic Judicial Board members. This Campus correspondent left the meeting because of the executive session, in which only members are allowed to be in the room.

Conversation then turned to a recommendation on updating the admissions guide to give more information to low-income students. Several members expressed concerns about voting on the recommendation at the end of the year, before reaching out to the admissions office first. Some others felt that it was best to vote on the recommendation now so that conversation on it will continue into next semester. Community Council voted unanimously to support this recommendation.

Co-Chair Abbott provided an update on funding for Winter Term internships. She said she is working with the administration to implement a pilot program for funding for-credit internships during J-Term. The specific program has not yet been created but Co-Chair Abbott says she will continue to work out specific details over the summer.

After a brief conversation on the potential of introducing a recommendation relating to laundry in the next session, the conversation shift to the recommendation previously considered on May 2 concerning financial aid changes. Co-Chair Abbott said that the consortium with which the College is currently affiliated, the 568 Group, does not use the standards in the recommendation. She added that changing the ability-to-pay model to a willingness-to-pay model would drastically affect the College’s financial situation. Co-Chair Sanderson amended the recommendation to fit better these considerations.

After discussion between Co-Chair Abbott, Co-Chair Sanderson and Charles Rainey ’19, Tim Parsons said that he was uncomfortable with considering the recommendation because he felt he did not have enough information to have an informed opinion on it. He said that he wanted to have more conversations about this issue and that it should not be rushed.

Community Council voted to create a committee co-chaired by the SGA President and Community Council Co-Chair to consider this recommendation further.

Community Council voted unanimously to approve the committee. Community Council voted on the recommendation itself but the motion failed.

Charles Rainey said that wished that Community Council would vote now on the recommendation itself.