On Monday, Jan. 12, Community Council held its first meeting of the 2016 Winter Term.
The Council welcomed Maddie Orcutt ’16, who discussed The Ribbon Project, an upcoming project centered around the prevention of sexual and relationship violence at the College. Orcutt told the Council that the project grew out of a grant provided to the College several years ago by the Department of Justice, which was intended to enable the College to better address issues of sexual violence.
The Ribbon Project, Orcutt said, is unlike other programs in that it hopes to tailor specific solutions to different groups on campus. “I think it works really well with things like Green Dot and other programming,” Orcutt said, “but what we’re going to try a little bit differently is to say … how are you as a body uniquely situated to address the issues of sexual and relationship violence?”
Orcutt elaborated that over the next several weeks, The Ribbon Project will begin discussions with various campus groups, focusing on the perceived causes of sexual violence and how those groups are equipped to address it.
After considering Community Council’s potential contributions to The Ribbon Project, the Council discussed potential topics for the remainder of the academic year. In particular, the subject of living wages will be discussed more heavily in the coming weeks, as Council members agreed it was a crucial issue, but one that lacks any simple solution.
At the Council’s next meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 19, Dining Software Intern Myles Kamisher-Koch ’15 initiated a discussion on the sale of energy drinks on campus. According to Kamisher-Koch, many in Dining Services have warmed to the idea of ceasing to sell energy drinks at retail food locations such as Wilson Café, The Grille and Midd Express.
Kamisher-Koch cited “well-publicized scientific literature” documenting the harmful health effects of energy drinks such as Red Bull and 5 Hour Energy. In addition to fostering unhealthy study habits and perpetuating a campus “culture of stress,” he said, one study found that “up to 25 percent of current drinkers combine alcoholic beverages with energy drinks” – a combination known to cause severe health problems. Referencing Middlebury Dining Services’ pledge to sustain “mind, body and earth,” Kamisher-Koch argued that the sale of these products contradicts Dining’s overall mission.
Charles Rainey ’19 stated that he was wary of Dining Services “controlling what people consume,” and asserted that many, such as himself, consume energy drinks “in a way that is responsible.” Several others, however, emphasized that energy drinks would continue to be sold as nearby as Sama’s Café, and that many fail to realize the negative impact of the products.
The Council then welcomed Michael Geisler, Vice President for Risk and Compliance, who argued for the installation of security cameras in various public spaces around campus. While the Council had discussed the issue during the 2014-15 academic year and ultimately decided against the installation of cameras, Geisler argued that they have the potential to greatly reduce property theft and potentially reduce the risk of assault. Some on the Council were receptive, but others cautioned against the risks of racial profiling and privacy intrusion.