SGA Weekly: Lessons Learned

Dear MiddKids,

To begin, thank you to all who helped out with Staff Appreciation Day! It was a huge hit and the staff greatly appreciated the dinner as well. This was the 2nd Annual Staff Appreciation Day, and we hope it will continue and improve in the many more years to come.

For this column, we will share some final updates from SGA along with some lessons learned this year.

SGA Updates:

1. SGA 2018–2019 Bylaws Amendments: There were some internal SGA bylaws amendments that were discussed and passed at the Apr. 29th Senate meeting. Here are a few of these changes: Publicity Committee was renamed Communications Committee, SGA committees for the sophomore and junior classes were formed and matched to the model of the SGA First-Year Committee, Commons Senator positions will be on a semester basis instead of the current yearly basis, a formal structure for the appeals process was formed, and more. Please check at go/sga under Archives to see an official version of the passed bylaws amendments.

2. Finance Committee Budget Allocations of $10,000 and More Presentations: The SGA discussed and ultimately approved of the budget allocations by the SGA Finance Committee at this past May 6th Senate meeting. Budget allocations of $10,000 and more included Club Sports (Crew, Equestrian, Mens Rugby, Sailing and Women’s Ultimate Frisbee), InterCommons Council (ICC), Middlebury College Activities Board (MCAB), Middlebury Intercultural Leaders Coalition (MILC), Middlebury Mountain Club (MMC), Service Cluster Board (SCB), Student Government Association (SGA), The Campus Newspaper, WRMC (Middlebury College Radio Station) and YouPower. Throughout these conversations there were discussions around student employment and hiring by organizations, needs for organizational restructuring and more. Be sure to check out the SGA minutes for a more comprehensive look at our discussions. These budget allocations will go into effect Fall 2018.

3. Spring Finals Week Library 24/7 Hours: Thank you to all those who submitted survey responses to Library 24/7 Hours for finals week. The survey results showed that 60.2 percent of student respondents used the library during 24/7 hours this past Fall finals week, and most hours of usage were from 12 p.m. – 3 a.m. followed by a resurge in numbers at 7 a.m. 51.5 percent of student respondents answered that the library should not be opened the full 24/7 hours for this upcoming Spring finals week. In the comments section, many student respondents encouraged the library to be open until 2 a.m. and then to re-open at 7 a.m. during finals week to meet students’ needs and library constraints. After presenting the survey results to Michael Roy (Dean of the Library), he decided to keep the 24/7 hours for this Spring finals week and begin plans to keep the library open until 2 a.m. for Fall 2018 finals week.

4. Common Agenda Updates & Cabinet Final Reports: Be on the look-out for final common agenda updates and an SGA cabinet report that will be published for the student body in the coming weeks!

5. Board of Trustees: Middlebury College Trustee Members will be in town for their final meeting of this academic year from Thursday (05/10) – Saturday (05/12). The College Board of Overseers will be in all three dining halls during Friday lunch to directly engage and converse with students. The SGA is working to release the College Board of Overseers agenda to the student body, so please check your emails for this. If you have any concerns or comments, feel free to contact sga@middlebury.edu.

Lessons Learned:

It has been an honor to serve as the SGA President and Deputy Chief of Staff this past year. Along the way we’ve learned some important lessons that we’d like to share with the larger Middlebury community as you all look towards next year at Middlebury.

1. Students at Middlebury are passionate about various causes, ideas and beliefs. This is incredibly important and valuable to the community. And we’ve also realized that many of us, including ourselves, fail to provide needed time and attention to the things that our peers may be passionate about as well. Caring more about the things that may matter to another person (possibly someone who is widely different from you) could help to create a more empathic and open-minded environment.

2. We all come from different backgrounds and communities. It’s important to recognize your own background and privileges that you may carry. We all have moments where we act unintentionally and fail to recognize our own privileges in our actions with one another. Particularly staff members at Middlebury College are often negatively impacted by our failure to be more aware of our privileges. By being more intentional and aware of our privileges, our actions can better reflect who we actually are and what we value.

3. Truthfully, change is not easy nor fast. This is something that many of us at Middlebury are already aware of. We’ve also realized that oftentimes students want more short-term and immediate change while administrators and others who have been here for longer than four years look towards more long-term and institutional implementation. These differences in priorities, although sometimes they do overlap, continue to cause tension in our community. We don’t have the answer for overcoming this tension, but being aware of this discrepancy could be the key in understanding how to work together. Persistence and accountability in action are other important factors to working together.

4. At the same time it’s important to acknowledge that there isn’t just tension between students and administrators, but also between students and students. We all work to positively contribute to the Middlebury community in different ways, and there are some students who do more than others. It’s time to work to not just keep administration, faculty or staff more accountable to the Middlebury community but also your fellow peers. Accountability should apply to everyone — this is your community. 

These are just a few of our closing thoughts from this year, and we are aware that you may disagree with these lessons we’ve learned. We also want to thank you for staying engaged and committed to the Middlebury community in the ways you have this past year.

As always, all past and current bills (including the ones mentioned above) are accessible at go/sga under Weekly Updates and/or Archives. The final SGA Senate meeting will be Sunday (05/13) from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Enjoy the final days of this semester and remember to take moments for self-care in the midst of finals!

Jin Sohn is SGA President.

Annie Cowan is SGA Deputy Chief of Staff.

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SGA Weekly: Lessons Learned