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Friday, Sep 29, 2023

STAFF EDITORIAL Candidate Endorsements

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This year's candidates for Student Government Association (SGA) president and student co-chair of community council (SC-COCC) are all highly motivated and have broad visions for the future of Middlebury College. They have both demonstrated their desire to lead the student body and formulated coherent platforms that address significant community issues.

But students must make a choice for their leaders. Based on her experience and ingenuity, we endorse Ginny Hunt as the most suitable candidate for the SGA presidency. For his charisma and innovation, we select Ben LaBolt for the SC-COCC position.

Hunt has been an integral part of the Middlebury community since her first year, participating in a range of activities both inside and outside of the SGA. A member of the Middlebury College Activities Board and former co-chair of Cook Commons, she has maintained a strong presence in both of those positions as well as on the SGA. She has drafted a solid platform and is already thinking of ways to further the mission of student governance on campus. As the current SGA chief of staff, she has a strong knowledge of the operations of student government and knows how to make things happen though the structure of the SGA.

Several aspects Hunt's platform deserve praise. Her suggestion to create a President's Council in which selected heads of student organizations could come together to solidify student voices and allow for greater involvement of students in the SGA is innovative and exciting. The evaluation of the commons by students, not to dissolve the system but to find ways of improvement from within, is a far-sighted idea, one that recognizes the importance of student representation in all administrative decisions — something that has been severely lacking in the past few months. In a year when the SGA and the College administration have been divided on several important issues, Hunt stresses discussion and compromise to resolve conflicts in the best interest of the College community. While The Middlebury Campus feels that her decision to put a college pub in the lower Proctor Dining Hall is not the best way to use College resources, especially in a year when issues of campus safety have been so prevalent, this does not derail her campaign.

While The Campus has chosen to endorse Hunt, this does not mean that the ideas of Neil Onsdorff should be overlooked. Although Onsdorff has not put the work into his platform to compensate for his lack of SGA experience, he does have valuable ideas regarding the importance of seniority in room draw procedures, giving the social houses greater respect on campus and encouraging students to be more responsible when driving.

The race for SC-COCC has two very qualified candidates with similar platforms, but LaBolt's charisma and leadership style make him the right choice for the position. Fahim Ahmed thinks with a vision and pays much attention to detail in his platform, which appears unfortunately bogged down by intricacies and will therefore be difficult to accomplish.

Currently a member of the Community Council, LaBolt sits on the Campus Access Committee, which oversees the new dorm access plan that will soon be implemented. As this will be the largest campus-wide issue for the foreseeable future, his experience on the committee will transfer well to the SC-COCC position. His pledge to work towards extending financial aid to students pursuing non-language study in foreign countries shows a desire to make financial aid more accessible to all. He shows a great ability to look beyond the status quo by suggesting a qualitative approach to the review for social and academic interest houses that will be innovative and flexible instead of relying solely on numbers. As the College looks to the future, LaBolt promises not to forget the present at Middlebury, by addressing commons equity in housing until the Master Plan is completed.

Students must make their voices heard in these elections. The Campus feels confident that a combination of Hunt and LaBolt will deliver Middlebury students with the best leadership available for the upcoming year.