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Saturday, Dec 2, 2023

Mutual Disrespect Hinders SGA, Administion Progress

Author: Chesley Thurber ’04

President John McCardell ended his opinion in last week's issue of this paper with the sentence, "And let it begin now." He was referring to discussion he wanted to promote over his proposed policy of shifting classes later into the day and holding athletic practices in the morning. The idea is creative and interesting, but not nearly as important as the fractured relationship that his article revealed between himself and Middlebury's student representative organizations.

McCardell's intriguing and promising idea is heavily overshadowed by his own last paragraph — a slap in the face to the Student Government Association (SGA), Community Council and related organizations. His proclamation to "dismiss out of hand…any individual or group claiming to 'represent' students, faculty or staff opinion" is hardly unprovoked. It is a response to a series of uncompromising mantras delivered by the SGA Senate dating back to the Parking Resolution adopted last October. In that, the SGA stated its unwillingness to consider McCardell's satellite parking plan and accused it of increasing the incidence of drinking and driving. More recently, the SGA Senate established another 'no-compromise' policy, this time against the locking of campus dormitories.

In an opinion protesting the campus 'lockdown,' Kevin King '02, Senior Class Senator to the SGA, member of the Community Council and author of the two aforementioned SGA resolutions, claims that McCardell is following a "motivation to defer to the good of his career over the good of the College." He continues that "McCardell has stopped thinking about the internal needs of Middlebury College and its students," although he maintains that his comments are not intended to be made "disrespectfully."

Mr. King's comments are disrespectful, and so is his legislation. He has exemplified the very same brash unwillingness to listen to and compromise with others that he accuses McCardell of.

As for McCardell's comments, they are equally disrespectful and only serve to reinforce Mr. King's claims.

McCardell's scheduling plan probably would take several years to implement. The implications of the shattered relationship between students and the administrtion are far more imminent. Becky Ruby '01.5 could not have put it better when in an opinion on the next page she writes, "Every single day, students on this campus pour their time, energy and hearts into pursuing challenges and issues on campus." However, she only covered half the picture. Every single day, the faculty, staff, and administrators who work at this College do the same. Both sides need to understand this. They need to work with each other, be respectful of each other, and learn to compromise in order to build consensus and achieve progress as a community.

Let that begin now.