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Tuesday, Feb 20, 2024

Editorial: A summer of change

Well, it’s that time of year again. Several weeks of e-mails from professors and gradually cooling nights have served as warning, but nothing can ever quite prepare us for the start of a whole new school year. The papers, the tests and the stress are back, but so is our beautiful Vermont campus and the friends, who invariably all have better stories than you about what they did this summer. As much as we all dread the workload in our near futures, there is rarely a time of more anticipation and excitement than the first week of the semester.

While much of this buzz stems from the return of dependable Middlebury stand-bys like Ross pizza and Ridgeline parties, there have also been several changes while we were gone that excite us in an entirely newway. With these changes, we see a continued effort to push the Middlebury experience beyond the classroom, to fuse our education with our growth and to emphasize what we do well, an effort that seems to have found a creative way to expand our reach despite the still looming budget cuts.

Perhaps the least conspicuous change sustained by the Middlebury brand over the summer was the expansion of our Monterey campus to include a 5-year graduate program and numerous language opportunities. While this may not seem to affect our day-to-day life in the same way as dining hall choices or Grille hours, it does much to expand Middlebury’s presence as an international institution, which benefits anyone with a Middlebury degree.

More immediately, we are excited by Middlebury’s redoubled commitment to the promotion of diversity on campus this year. The administration is eagerly welcoming back Shirley Collado, who left Middlebury in December 2008 after two years of extremely successful work as the Dean of Institutional Diversity. Collado is back this year as the Dean of the College, but will officially continue her work as Chief Diversity Officer, infusing many aspects of her diversity initiatives into the all-important work of the Dean. We’re looking forward to the positive changes that will result from combining a position of such high authority with one so vital to the College’s goal of diversity in all aspects of life on campus.

Yet another instance of increased efforts to promote previously expressed goals is the creation of the Residential Sustainability Coordinator (RSC) program, established by the College in order to help meet its commitment to the trustee’s environmental master plan, which includes complete carbon neutrality by 2016. The program establishes five head RSCs across the commons, who will work with first-year RSCs to help promote environmentally friendly behavior across campus and organize sustainability-focused events throughout the year. This program is exciting for several reasons: first, the student-led initiatives re-emphasize the genuine innovation that can come straight out of our student body. Second, the fact that the College has thrown enough funding behind the program to make the Head RSC a paid position show that the administration has faith in its students to enact real change on campus.

So while we all get re-acquainted with the path to library and long lines at the dining hall, let’s not lose sight of the changes that have occurred in our absence. While they may not be as tangible as the new bridge and rotary in town, we are confident that the consequences of these new programs and positions will be far reaching, important and something to be proud of.