SGA Presidential Candidates Present Visions

By ERIC KAPNER

Elections for the Student Government Association (SGA) will be occurring this week, with online polls open from noon on Thursday, April 19 to noon on Friday, April 20 at go/vote. Three students are running for the position of SGA President: Charles Rainey ’19, Nia Robinson ’19, and Rae Aaron ’19.5. This week, each candidate met with members of The Campus to discuss their respective platforms.

RAE AARON ’19.5

Aaron is a junior Feb and an International Politics & Economics major with a Spanish minor. Her website can be accessed through go/SGRae.

Aaron has served as Feb Senator in the SGA since she came to Middlebury. She was elected Speaker of the SGA Senate in the fall of 2017 and spring of 2018. Aaron has served on the Hillel board and is currently the organization’s president. She is the treasurer of Middlebury Women Leaders. She also serves on the New Traditions Initiative Selection Committee.

Throughout her campaign, Aaron has highlighted her experience and accomplishments in the SGA, including sponsoring bills supporting the creation of a “Mountain Day” and calling for on-campus gym equipment. She has worked with several organizations regarding club sports, sponsoring bills to improve funding and create new teams. She has also collaborated with the Black Student Union and sponsored a resolution in support of minority students.

As SGA president, Aaron said she imagines her role being “to represent the voice of the students to the administration, but also to serve as a middle ground between getting ideas across.” Her platform is focused around three areas: Campus Life, Inclusivity, and Accessibility.

In order to improve life on campus, Aaron will try to create opportunities for students to form personal relationships with faculty and staff, like funding off-campus meals. Aaron also proposes the creation of an outdoor classroom for use by seminars and organizations. She advocates for the return of 10 o’clock Ross and for more late night dining options.

To create a more inclusive campus, Aaron proposes a structure to increase peer-mentoring within majors for underclassmen seeking advice. She also would like to create a health and wellness space on campus for activities related to mental and physical health. Aaron promotes a reexamining of support systems for minority students, aimed to improve them so that minority and international students have adequate support.

Aaron’s commitment to accessibility is demonstrated through her proposal to offer financial aid for physical education courses. This would allow students to take the courses they want regardless of socioeconomic background. Aaron also plans to work toward making all buildings on campus accessible to injured or disabled students and staff. Lastly, she proposes pairing Parton counselors with residential commons to improve access to counseling services.

 

CHARLES RAINEY ’19

Rainey is currently a junior and is a joint Political Science and American Studies major, with a minor in African American Studies. This is the second time Rainey is running for SGA President. His website can be accessed through go/Charles.

His campaign website highlights his experience with the SGA and Community Council. He served as his class’s First-Year Senator, chairing the First-Year Committee. Rainey has served as a member of Community Council’s Residential Life Committee since 2015, and has been a full member of the Council for the past two years.

In addition to his experience with SGA and Community Council, Rainey was the acting president of the Black Student Union (BSU) and is currently the Gamut Room’s event coordinator. Recently, he founded the improv group Baggage Claim.

Rainey’s platform consists of 3 pillars: Social Life, Community, and Support. While not explicitly pillars of his platform, Rainey said that “every single policy point that I put has some sort of element of inclusion and accessibility in it.”

The first pillar of his platform, social life, includes initiatives, such as creating a “MiddNights” fund, which would provide grants to students wanting to host open parties. This is a solution to Rainey’s concerns that socioeconomic background can be a barrier to social life. Other policies include making dorm lounges reservable for parties, allowing for the booking of certain spaces by students without having to go through a student organization and streamlining the process of reserving spaces as a whole.

 The second pillar, community, proposes setting up a grant for student organizations to randomly pair up and host an event together, thus producing social and organizational connections. Rainey wants to give everyone “a seat at the table” by creating a space for informal communication between students and cultural organizations and the administration. He also hopes to push for an ethnic studies major program and to set up periodic meetings between student advisory committees and the SGA’s Committee on Educational Affairs. 

Support is the third major piece of his campaign. He hopes to institutionalize “MiddSibs,” a commons-coordinated system that would provide peer mentoring to underclassmen. He also proposes the creation of a Mental Health week in an effort to reduce the stigma around stress and anxiety. Other policies he intends to pursue to create a better support system include getting counselors of color at Parton, providing more funding for consent, relationship and sex education and including more resources for students on the SGA website.

 

NIA ROBINSON ’19

Robinson is a junior and a Sociology major. Her website can be accessed through go/Nia.

While campaigning, Robinson has emphasized her experience and involvement with several organizations on campus. She served as co-president of the Black Student Union during her sophomore year, and is a member of the Community Judicial Board. Nia has been an opinion editor for The Campus, a tour guide, a barista at Crossroads Café, an Anderson Freeman Resource Center intern, a Chellis House monitor and a coach for Oratory Now. She has also been involved with the greater Middlebury community through volunteering with EverybodyWins! VT at Mary Hogan Elementary.

Robinson’s platform has five main tenants: Social Life, Diversity & Inclusion, Communication & Transparency, Accessibility and “College St. and Beyond.” 

Her proposals for improving the school’s social life include expanding the role of social houses on campus so they may have greater impact. She also wants to create more social opportunities and activities that do not involve drinking, so that students who opt not to drink have more choices. Her final goal is to strengthen the student body’s relationship with the Public Safety department to create a safer environment.

To address the issues of diversity and inclusion that have become prominent recently, Robinson would, as SGA president, foster relationships with cultural organizations, and also host office hours every month so that groups have the opportunity to have their ideas and/or issues be heard. She also advocates for the creation of a caucus where students from all years, multiple organizations and teams could have a voice.

Robinson aims to create a more transparent SGA that communicates more effectively by determining the best ways that the SGA can interact with the student body by asking students what methods of communication they prefer, and then implementing those methods. Robinson stated, “I don’t think big changes should be a surprise, which they have been in the past.”

The accessibility aspect of Robinson’s campaign involves working with the administration to make Middlebury’s campus navigable for those with physical disabilities. She would also like to create a program that would allow for Public Safety to provide rides to Porter hospital for students without other means of transportation. Lastly, Robinson plans to expand funding for existing programs for students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, and also publicize those programs better.

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SGA Presidential Candidates Present Visions