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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

SGA Update

At its Oct. 24 meeting, the Student Government Association (SGA) introduced a resolution to encourage the College to establish an outdoor introduction program. This College-run program would be larger than the SGA funded Outdoor Orientation for New Kids (OINK) and would have an added variety of interest-based trips.
Outdoor introduction has been around the College since the 1980s, when it was run solely by the Mountain Club and titled Middlebury Outdoor Orientation (MOO).  In 2008, MOO was replaced by MiddView — a program created to be large enough to accommodate all interested incoming first-years.  However, later that year the financial crisis worsened, and the program was cut.
In an attempt to save the outdoor introduction trip, in 2009 the SGA provided $141,000 over the course of three years to continue the smaller OINK program until 2012. However, they firmly agreed that SGA funding for the program would not continue beyond 2012, and they hope that that this three-year window of time will ease the program’s transition from a SGA-funded to a College-funded activity.
The resolution requests that the College support the program not only monetarily but also organizationally.  Currently students, whose graduations cause frequent transitions in leadership and disrupt the program’s organization, run OINK. Professional staff dedicated to running the program would allow the process to run more efficiently.
The proposed College-run program would last three days and two nights, which would still leave Middlebury with one of the shortest programs among peer institutions. Bates, Bowdoin, Williams, Hamilton and Dartmouth all have programs of four days or longer.
The resolution also purposed a time change for the program. Currently, Middlebury’s program is held on a weekend after classes have started. However, many peer institutions have their programs in summer or pre-orientation. Hopefully, a similar pre-orientation time slot for Middlebury’s program would prevent students from becoming exhausted and allow them to devote their first weekends on campus to adjusting to their new schedules and coursework.
Senator Anne Runkel ’11, the resolution’s sponsor, stressed the enormous benefits that these kinds of programs offer students, particularly their ability to ease students’ transition into the college environment.
“I didn’t get to go on one, but I know that the people whom I am friends with who did go loved them and had a great relationship with their leader throughout their time at Middlebury,” said Runkel. “I think that the trip itself kind of eased that anxiety about coming to campus because you have a group of kids that you’re already going to have to meet. It’s almost like coming in with extra friends as opposed to being just thrown in on campus and trying to figure everything out.”
Not only do these trips offer positive experiences for first-year students, but Runkel also argues they could help to provide valuable leadership experience for student trip leaders.
“I really think it’s one of the things Middlebury provides students with the opportunity for real world leadership opportunities,” said Runkel. “You’re in charge of seven to 10 students and whether or not they have fun, whether or not they’re safe and everything else. So it’s not only an experience for the students, but it’s an experience for the leaders.”
However, views on these outdoor introduction programs have not been entirely positive. Primary objections to the OINK program have included debate over the use of students’ activities fees to fund the program and concerns about funding a program that is non-academically focused. The transfer of responsibility for the program from the SGA to the College would eliminate the former objection, however, the merit of funding such a program will most likely be debated as the senators take this resolution to their constituents this week to hear their opinions on these proposals.
In addition to the OINK Resolution, the SGA discussed break buses during their meeting.  For Thanksgiving and holiday breaks the buses will be provided through Bristol Tours, who had both the most competitive and eco-friendly offer.
For Thanksgiving Break, the three buses will arrive at Burlington International airport at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday and 5 a.m. on both Tuesday and Wednesday. There will be two buses returning on Sunday at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. Bus tickets went on sale for $5 on Oct. 26.