Even in the midst of a global pandemic, the Student Government Association (SGA) elections are moving forward. The three presidential and two Community Council (CC) co-chair candidates on Thursday’s ballot engaged in a live-streamed debate via Zoom on Monday evening.
They have also been campaigning remotely, creating websites and posting on social media to communicate their platforms and generate support. The five candidates shared their ideas and spoke to their qualifications in Zoom interviews with The Campus.
For SGA president:
Arthur Martins ’22.5
Hometown: Brasília, Brazil
Martins, co-president of the International Students Organization (ISO) and co-founder of #FairGradesMidd, said that he wants to make SGA more proactive and engaged with the student body. Martins is the only presidential candidate who has never held an SGA position. However, he has worked closely with members of the organization in past initiatives such as seeking SGA endorsement for #FairGradesMidd and working with senators to draft legislation supporting an ISO house.
As ISO co-president, Martins helped restructure and expand the organization’s executive board this year, creating what he calls a “student-centered bureaucracy.” He also co-authored a letter to the Senior Leadership Group advocating for international students in the wake of the campus closure this spring. While working on #FairGradesMidd, Martins gathered dozens of student testimonials and restructured the campaign’s platform in accordance with feedback from other organizers. Martins said he has been involved in activism work at home in Brazil as well.
“In my experiences as a grassroots organizer, as a community organizer, I've seen how powerful students can be, how much we can come together and truly rally behind causes that we believe in and make them happen,” he said.
Martins said he’s hoping to bring this type of leadership and activism to the SGA. He broke down his platform into three parts: advocating for student rights and resources, creating a strong college community, and putting students first. He wants to improve mental health resources, residential life training and support for underrepresented communities. Martins also explained his belief that the SGA is not transparent or accessible enough to the student body and is too bureaucratic.
“Everything has bureaucracy in life, but how can we make sure that the bureaucracy doesn't detract from the mission of being attuned to students, but that it lends itself to it,” he said.
His website proposes office hours and greater online outreach as a means of remedying the transparency and accessibility issues he sees.
Myles Maxie ’22
Hometown: Upland, California
A two-year SGA member, Maxie is the current Wonnacott senator and has served on several SGA committees. This is his first year as a senator, though he was involved in cabinet committees last year. Maxie has worked on creating student advisory councils for all academic departments, making the Gamut Room more accessible to student groups and providing more information about textbooks before registration. Maxie also co-sponsored a bill supporting changes to the grading system this spring. As a member of the Academic Affairs Committee, he has collaborated with faculty in an ongoing effort to revise the course credit system.
Beyond SGA, Maxie is also the social house secretary for PALANA and an admissions office student ambassador. In his role as chair of the Wonnacott Commons Council, he said he has discussed ways to continue supporting students after the dissolution of the commons system with his commons coordinator.
Maxie’s platform emphasizes greater outreach to students for ideas and feedback. His website relays his plan in acronym form, using the letters of the word “focus.” He said he believes SGA’s initiatives should be founded upon the concerns of its constituency.
“I have a bunch of student-generated issues that I want to address next year and that I'd brainstormed with students on effective ways to solve,” he said.
These include keeping laundry free or low cost, increasing transparency about SGA initiatives and providing better representation for student organizations. Maxie explained the broad objectives of his potential administration.
“It'll be about being actionable when we're faced with a problem and communicating what we're doing, having a plan for how we're addressing a problem and collaborating with others on it,” he said.
John Schurer ’21
Hometown: Glenview, Illinois
Schurer, junior senator and speaker of the senate, said he was “the most excited person on campus” when he arrived for his first semester, but soon discovered the campus was not as tight-knit as he had hoped. He attributed his involvement in various Middlebury organizations to a desire to create the community he had initially expected.
This is Schurer’s third year as a class senator and his second time as senate speaker. He is also a marketing executive for Middlebury College Activities Board (MCAB) and producer for the Middlebury Moth-Up, an organization that puts on live oral storytelling shows. Some know Schurer as the founder of MeetMidd, an Instagram-based compilation of brief student profiles, which he launched when the current juniors were first-years.
Schurer has also worked in several roles in residential life. His time working in the Student Activities Office even led to a brief stint as the Middlebury Panther, an experience which he said motivated him to push for a new costume that increased both school spirit and comfort. On SGA, Schurer has aimed to make student resources more accessible and affordable, co-founding MiddBooks and supporting a bill that established financial aid for Snow Bowl use.
Schurer also worked with trustees to create plans for a new student center, an effort he said he wants to continue. Some of the other initiatives included in his platform are creating a co-curricular transcript and acquiring athletic trainers for non-varsity athletes. Schurer said he wants the SGA to better represent all students.
“We get a lot of bright minds who come into SGA and want to make a change, but we don't often enough get students who feel like Middlebury isn't built for them,” he said.
He highlighted collaboration as an important aspect of his platform, and noted how he has already named his two chiefs of staff, Sophia Lundberg ’21.5 and Roni Lezama ’22, whose qualifications are listed on his website.
For Community Council co-chair:
Christian Kummer ’22
Hometown: Southbury, Connecticut
Kummer, who served as a first-year senator last year, said that he based his entire platform on student input, soliciting feedback in the form he used to collect signatures.
“I was really hesitant to be super prescriptive, because the entire point of the co-chair is to be a voice for student concerns, not to push your own agenda,” Kummer said.
Kummer is committed to reforming mental health resources and said he wants to work with Barbara McCall, director of health and wellness education, and Gus Jordan, executive director of health and counseling services, to redesign the approach to mental health. He hopes to push for hiring more counselors and counselors who specialize in particular areas.
Kummer expressed interest in increasing access to campus resources and programs, suggesting greater funding for First at Midd, as well as tackling environmental sustainability and vandalism issues. He also wants to provide better support for survivors of sexual assault and take greater steps in regard to preventing potential assaults.
On SGA, Kummer served on several cabinet committees and worked on initiatives such as the snowbowl financial aid bill and the reinstitution of 10 o’clock Ross. As co-director of the first-year committee, he collaborated with the Center for Careers and Internships to create a first-year internship workshop. Kummer’s website lists the positions he has held beyond SGA, ranging from membership on the Community Judicial Board to PALANA to the Dance Company of Middlebury.
“I love working with people in pretty much every aspect of my life at Middlebury, both in student government and outside,” he said.
Joel Machado ’22
Hometown: The Bronx, New York
Machado’s website divides the initiatives in his platform into pillars. Some of his intended objectives, such as a push to end the waste of dining hall dishes, connect directly to his earlier efforts in SGA and Community Council roles. Machado has been outspoken about campus issues in the past. His Spencer Prize Championship speech criticized the school for being “an institution of higher learning second and a business first.”
Machado is a first generation college student and said his personal experiences and those of his family members have fostered his passion for combating inequality.
“Like any other leadership role, the most important experience needed is having a real reason to care about what you are doing,” he said in an email.
Machado noted the additional responsibilities of next year’s co-chair, who will play a role in familiarizing the new Dean of Students, who serves as the other chair, with the campus culture and outlook.
Polls open Thursday, April 16 at noon, and close the following day at noon. Vote at go.middlebury.edu/vote/.