Community Council held its first meeting of the academic year on Monday, Oct. 5, in McCullough’s Crest Room.
The council’s responsibilities include oversight of residential issues, making appointments to several judicial and academic boards and reviewing social and academic interest houses. In addition, the Council has the ability to make recommendations directly to the President and the administration.
In Monday’s meeting, Council members were asked to outline their goals for the upcoming year. Several students specified that they hoped the council would provide a voice to marginalized groups on campus.
“I’ve known what it might feel like to be in a minority group,” said Chang, “and I feel that there’s a bridge to be made between minority groups that I’m a part of, and some of the privileges that I have from coming to this school.”
Others in attendance echoed her sentiment.
“The voices heard on campus are of a very specific population of Middlebury,” said Fiona Mohamed ’18, “and I’d like to distribute that voice across campus, to the more marginalized areas.”
Metadel Lee ’18.5 agreed, while stressing the need for “some sort of mediation between marginalized and non-marginalized groups, because it seems that both sides feel marginalized in some way or another.”
Several staff echoed the students’ discontent with Middlebury’s prevailing social structures.
“The fractured nature of Middlebury’s student community is something that I’ve seen grow in the last 15 years…there’s less and less cross-communication, and it would be nice to see us address that,” said Doug Adams, Associate Dean of Students for Residential and Student Life.
The “stress culture” on campus was another topic of discussion. While initially raised by students, Adams and Public Safety Telecom Manager and Tech Support Specialist Solon Coburn noted that stress was also widespread among faculty and staff, respectively. Still, some Council members cautioned that an over- emphasis on eliminating stress entirely could leave students unprepared for the pressures of the world outside of the College.
The Council also discussed the mandatory courses on drugs, alcohol and sexual violence, which are criticized by some for being easy to skip through without much thought. Sarah Laursen, Assistant Professor of Art and Architecture and Curator of Asian Art, mentioned that other community members should be made aware of these issues, noting that the culture has likely changed since faculty and staff attended college.
Council members went on to discuss other potential projects for the upcoming year. Coburn discussed the possibility of implementing new card access around campus, which would be a major step forward but “a ton of work.” Others brought up improvements to faculty housing, and an increased focus on mental health.
The most frequently mentioned subject was new President Laurie L. Patton, and the high hopes held by many for her tenure.
Brandon Baird, Assistant Professor of Spanish and Linguistics, is among those who eagerly anticipate Patton’s work.
“I’ve seen her a couple of times and whenever she’s introduced, she’s introduced to thunderous applause. So I’m excited to see what she does, and if they’ll repeat the thunderous applause for years to come,” he said.