Community Council Update

by / Community Council Update (0) in News /

On Tuesday March 22, Community Council began its meeting with a presentation by Tim Spears, vice president for academic development and professor of American studies. Spears came to propose a potential pilot project to revise the College’s pet policy, specifically in regard to dogs.

Under the College’s current bylaws, faculty and staff are not allowed to keep dogs on campus. However, responding to community input, the administration has recently discussed allowing faculty and staff to bring their dogs to campus during business hours, provided that they register the dogs and receive permission from their supervisors.

“There are any number of positive reasons to be around dogs,” Spears said. “In bringing a dog to campus, we, in a funny way, humanize people…If I bring my dog to campus, you see me with my dog, you come to understand me as a faculty member or administrator in a different sort of way.”

Several council members expressed concern that College custodial staff would be left with increased cleanup duties. Spears acknowledged the legitimacy of these concerns, but cited similar programs at institutions such as Amherst College, where faculty members are required to be completely responsible for their own pets.

The Council did not take a vote, as the intent behind Spears’s visit was simply to gauge the Council’s feelings on the matter.

Later in the meeting, the Council completed its discussion from the previous week on its list of possible solutions to student stress. The document was compiled by Emma Bliska ’18, and would be sent by the Council to the working group on stress established by President of the College Laurie L. Patton. After several amendments, including changing the proposal from an “endorsement” to a formal recommendation, the Council voted unanimously to approve the document.

At the Council’s next meeting on Tues., April 5, the Council welcomed Roberto Lint Sagarena, associate professor of American studies and director of the Anderson Freeman Resource Center, who gave an update on the work of the Alliance for an Inclusive Middlebury.

Lin-Sagarena primarily discussed the Alliance’s upcoming website, which will include “a picture of who’s at Middlebury and how long they’re at Middlebury.” This information, Lin-Sagarena shared, is “the most difficult” aspect of the website.

Lin-Sagarena presented data to the council showing the college’s retention rates for black students, overall students of color, and all students. According to the data, six-year graduation rates for black students have generally increased over the past several years, rising from 69 percent during the 2005 cohort to 100 percent in 2009.

Other students of color maintained a relatively steady six-year graduation rate, finishing most recently at 94 percent. The rate for all students, meanwhile, was generally slightly higher, although the 2009 figure of 94 percent was identical to that of students of color.

“This data has been mysterious for a very long time,” said Lint Sagarena. “So we’re hoping to have this be the first step in transparency, so we can see where we are, where we’ve been, where we might be going, and address any issues that might have negative consequences.”

Afterwards, Associate Dean of Students for Residential and Student Life Doug Adams gave a presentation on the biennial review of academic and special interest houses conducted by Residential Life.

According to Adams, the committee approved 14 of the 17 houses this year with no stipulations. The remaining houses were given various stipulations regarding insufficient membership or possible changes to the house mission.

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