SGA Weekly: A Time of Changes

By JIN SOHN, SGA President

Dear Middkidds,

With less than five weeks left, the SGA Cabinet and Senate are continuing to work hard on ongoing and new initiatives. Be sure to voice your thoughts by reaching out to your student class and commons representatives!

SGA Cabinet:

1. Each cabinet committee is working on impactful projects, including a website for Middlebury social nightlife, a divestment referendum, staff appreciation day, Panther pride, late night student access to academic buildings, 10 o’clock Ross and more! Be sure to look out for emails from SGA with more information on these initiatives.

SGA Senate:

1. Topic(s) of the Week: This week the SGA has decided to focus student engagement and opinions on three topics: a) meal plans b) resources for international students and c) public art in spaces at Middlebury. Please reach out to your student class and commons representatives to share your opinions on these topics.

2. “An Act to Correct the Club Sports Bill 2.0”: After months of working on club sports related concerns, the Senate passed a bill to eliminate the tier system and create two clusters, Competitive Club Sports and Recreational Club Sports. Competitive Club Sports are structured intercollegiate sport programs without a Varsity counterpart and more structured than the intramural program. Competitive club sports attend regular competitions against other college and universities. Club sports that fall under this cluster are Crew, Cycling, Equestrian, Quidditch, Rugby and Sailing. Recreational Club Sports are sports with a limited travel season of only two competitions per year. Club sports that fall under this cluster are Badminton, Figure Skating, MiddRuns, SKIGA and Tennis. New Recreational Club Sports will receive minimum discretionary funds of $200, an email address and an index code like other organizations on campus, and will follow club sport policies and procedures. All relevant club sports have been contacted about this change. These new clusters will allow the SGA to be more fiscally responsible long-term and provide better organization and avenues for forming new recreational club sports. This bill will immediately go into effect for spring budgeting. Sponsors of this bill were Co-Chair Tina Brook, Senior Senator Hannah Pustejovsky, and President Jin Sohn.

3. “Terms of Commons Senators”: Originally proposed last week, this bylaws amendment was passed in Senate this week. The bill converts Commons Senator positions into semester terms. Specifically, it extends eligibility for the Commons Senator position to include students that may have study abroad plans or off-campus medical leaves. Students that are not studying abroad during the academic year, however, are required to run for both fall and spring semesters. This is based off the Community Co-Chair semester terms model. Essentially, this bill takes into account one of Middlebury’s largest student academic interests, study abroad, in order to make SGA more accessible. This will go into effect for the next election cycle of 2019-2020. Sponsors of this bill were Sophomore Senator Varsha Vijayakumar and Wonnacott Senator Anthony Salas.

4. “Academic Credit for Summer Unpaid Internships”: This bill, originally discussed last week, was passed this week in Senate. The only change to the bill since then is a clarification to include academic credit for internships tied to academic and/or professional interests. This bill will now be handed to relevant offices as a recommendation to implement. The sponsor of this bill was Junior Senator Kailash Raj Pandey.

5. “Proposal for Increase of Student Wellbeing”: This bill was discussed and proposed in Senate this week. Junior Senator Kailash Raj Pandey presented findings from a student survey on ways to increase student wellbeing at Middlebury. The results manifested as bill proposing new relaxation spaces in BiHall and Davis, installing fitdesk recumbent bikes at both libraries, Dining Committee transparency, dining food options, and offerings to match what is offered in the summer, including sauté stations and more fruit and  nut offerings. The Senate will continue to discuss the bill next week. What are your thoughts on these proposals? For more information, the main contact for this initiative is SGA Junior Senator Kailash Pandey.

6. “Swipe System & Meal Plans in Dining”: The Senate is discussing the pros and cons of implementing meal plans. Through conversations with Dan Detora, Executive Director of Food Service Operations, if meal plans were to be instituted, they would all be the same price, but would allow for greater student flexibility. For example, perhaps a student who skips breakfast would prefer 14 meals per week in the dining hall and a higher declining balance to spend at retail locations on campus (and possibly even around town). Maybe a student who has a kitchen in their living space and cooks their own meals would prefer seven dining hall meals per week with a far greater declining balance. Please note that the unlimited meal option would still exist and would be the same price as the other options. The Senate is only just beginning to discuss this idea, and will continue to do so next week. Would you want meal plans at Middlebury? For more information, the main contact for this initiative is SGA Sophomore Senator Jack Goldfield.

Upcoming Events to Keep in Mind:

1. We are in the midst of SGA elections season, and voting has begun! Polls and a student-wide referendum on divestment will be open from noon on Thursday (4/19) until noon on Friday (4/20). Don’t forget to vote; every vote counts!

2. Staff Appreciation Day is 4/30! Keep submitting those thank you video submissions and get involved at go/thankyoustaff. And remember to thank staff everyday, not just on Staff Appreciation Day; they do so much for us.

As always, all past and current bills (even the ones mentioned above) are accessible at go/sga under Weekly Updates and/or Archives. Please continue to reach out to your respective Senators or to SGA with any questions, concerns or comments.

Enjoy these last few weeks of the school year!

Jin Sohn is SGA President.

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