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Monday, Mar 4, 2024

Editorial

For those of you blissfully unaware of the drop in temperature, the hike in workload or our past editorial alerting you to both of these trends — we have officially hit the month mark. While, for many of us, this will continue to be a shock to the system for the next couple of weeks, the wheels of the school’s decision-making bodies have been turning this entire time. And though we would probably never know it, this bureaucratic behind the scenes action includes the Student Government Association (SGA).
Now, this is not necessarily a reflection of the work that is being done within those meetings. The nature of student government at Middlebury or any school like it is one of invisible effort. It is possible that in all your years here, you have never once interacted with the SGA, voted in an election or even been aware of who our student body president is. If a name didn’t just pop into your head, you are very much not alone. And maybe you’re fine with that. And maybe we’re fine with that. But it seems difficult to reconcile the stated importance of this body with the widespread lack of student awareness.
According to the College, the SGA is not only the advocate for student issues on campus, but they are also the official channel for student participation in the policy-making of our institution. The worrisome portion of the definition for our purposes, however, is the piece in which it states that the SGA “represents the students in the decision-making processes of the College,” and if that is the case, the SGA has to be extremely good at guessing.
It does not need to be this way. The SGA has a lot to offer, including control of the Student Activities Fee and even the potential to provide services directly to the student body. Last year they addressed issues of gender-neutral housing and OINK, local transportation initiatives and a lack of fitness center equipment. They have money to use and the power to allocate it. So why are we not at their open meetings on Sunday evenings?
Our favorite response to this question is transparency — how well does the SGA inform the student body of its open meetings? But in the spirit of a new year and the achievements of the last administration, we will hold off on any judgment. What we would like to see, however, is a clearer outline of the SGA’s jurisdiction. The SGA deals with “student issues,” but that phrase is rather meaningless in a place where we both work and live; conceivably everything we are involved in could be a student issue. A clarification in this arena could be effective in not only eliminating false hopes of reform but also in augmenting general student interest. Maybe if we understand what the SGA can do — what it is working on — we will be able to formulate opinions, or maybe even voice them. We encourage the SGA to think of transparency as an opportunity rather than a burden. If the SGA’s current projects get out into the public view, a well-informed student body could make the SGA’s job that much easier.
This does not, however, mean that our responsibilities simply start where the SGA’s leave off. It brought back Midnight Breakfast and extended library hours during the exam periods when we called for it. But this here is a give and take. If you have even once found yourself complaining about the disturbingly diminished access to food and caffeine on campus — be honest, you have — then you have an opinion. You should be in the Crest Room next Sunday. And while you are there, do us all a favor and ask why it is that the Ralph Myhre Golf Course snack bar is open at any hour when MiddXpress cannot stay open past 5 p.m. on Monday evenings.


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