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Monday, Mar 4, 2024

Students Get Milealage Out of SGA

Author: Kevin King '02

A little over two months ago the Student Government Association (SGA) completed highly successful and contested fall elections, and held its first meeting of the year. I write today to reflect on what the SGA has already accomplished this fall term, the progress of my initiatives to energize and organize the Senate, and to outline what I see as our top priorities for the winter and spring months ahead.

What have we done for you, Joe Q. Midd-kid, lately? That's a question I don't hear too often these days, though in many ways I wish I did, since there are a multitude of good answers. First, President Brian Elworthy and his cabinet deserve a lot of credit for planning and funding convenient and environmentally friendly holiday break shuttles to and from the Burlington airport. This sort of student service and environmental consciousness should be the unquestionable norm at a "full service" college like Middlebury, and thanks to the work of the SGA, it now is. Secondly, SGA initiatives to increase spending flexibility and discretionary funds for student organizations have enabled groups like Hillel, WRMC and the Southern Society to put together and publicize events catering to the entire College community. Equally important to the college community, as well as generations of Middlebury students to come, has been the SGA's role in passing the revised Honor Code, which benefits students by way of a majority voice in all academic judicial cases among other things. Likewise, our dedication to voicing student concerns to the administration and faculty regarding critical issues such as parking rights, the role of student athletes, continuation and strengthening of social houses, and academic requirements has vastly improved the visibility level and attention paid to the student body's interests. This fall, students have gotten more mileage out of the SGA on two fronts: greater representation of diverse student interests, and more effective representation of student needs as a collective whole.

In terms of creating an environment where student government can operate with maximum energy and efficiency, my role as Speaker and cooperation with individual senators, Elworthy, and cabinet members has started to take shape. In the 2000-2001 school year, the SGA reviewed nary a single student proposal or Senate sponsored bill in the fall, and managed to pass only four all year. Already this term the Senate has discussed and passed seven such bills or proposals, with plans to move forward on many more by the end of January. These bills and proposals range from an excellent laundry facilities project initiated by first-year Scott Palmer to a comprehensive and forward looking bill to increase student choice with regard to social options, commons participation, and intramural sports introduced by Junior class representative Matthew Kiefer. This level of activity reflects precisely the energy and dedication I set out to foster in the Senate when I started my term as Speaker, and I believe it can be improved upon even more in the months to come.

So what is planned for Winter Term and the spring? Projects which lie ahead include adding an African Studied major to the curriculum, granting physical education credits to varsity athletes, improving campus and town area public transportation, upgrading lighting along walkways, and expanding MIDD Rides hours and routes. I personally plan on introducing a project that would raffle off one parking space, anywhere on campus, with the proceeds going towards local charities and improved, environmentally conscious student transportation initiatives. Perhaps most importantly, while the SGA is a representative body, every student at Middlebury is a member. With this notion of universal membership in mind, I encourage each and every one of you to bring your ideas and concerns to your representatives or directly to our meetings in person.

Kevin King is a senior class representative in the SGA Senate and serves as Speaker of the Senate.