Jason Mittell, professor of film and media culture, and american studies, has been named to the inaugural class of Peabody Fellow Scholars at the newly formed Media Center at Peabody, a research center and digital media production branch of the Peabody Awards located at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. The goal of the center is to turn Peabody into an organization that promotes a close examination and discussion of the work of Peabody-winning storytellers, and how that work contributes to national dialogues surrounding social issues. Mittell, along with five other fellows, will help shape the direction of the center. “As an organization, Peabody is mostly known for awards, and the director, Jeffrey Jones, is interested in making, as he said, Peabody into a year round organization. Throughout the year, the organization will do more outreach, educate, engage with the broadcasting/cable/streaming industries, engage with the public, engage with the press” Mittell said. “The idea is to highlight how Peabody is a resource of expertise on television, radio, web-based video.” The Peabody Fellow Scholars will serve as a resource for the center, where they will assist with a number of initiatives, including writing editorial or analysis pieces for publications, assisting the center with outreach, and using their expertise to examine and provide greater context for Peabody-winning pieces, which are broadly awarded for “excellence.” “As fellows, we are tasked with being ambassadors to that value,” Mittell said. “One of my goals is to find ways to help promote the production and consumption of stories that matter; to highlight that television is not just about fun, diverting, entertaining things - not that those aren’t useful - but that it has the ability, and I think somewhat unique ability, to create ongoing stories that you become really immersed in, that can have an impact on your life and the world.” All of the Peabody Fellows, with the exception of Mittell, come from large universities which, as opposed to liberal arts colleges like Middlebury, are known for their focus on research. “I’m really proud to be named and to be appointed,” Mittell said. “I think it’s very possible to be a highly productive and high profile researcher [at Middlebury] and there is both infrastructure that the administration provides and also an opportunity because we’re working with such great students to bat ideas around and I find that that’s really exciting.” Mittell said that teaching at Middlebury for fifteen years is one of the greatest assets that he will bring to the Media Center at Peabody. “Every day I’m in the classroom talking to students who are really smart but they’re not experts. I’m communicating with people who want to learn something but they’re not coming from a place of insiderness,” Mittell said. “I think most [academic writing] is for other academics to advance the field, rather than writing for the public. And while teaching is not the same as writing for the public, I feel like my own abilities to present information, whether through writing or through lectures, or through presentations or panels, has greatly benefited by the fact that I’ve spent fifteen years working with undergrads and honing my ability to communicate at a non expert level to engage with curious people.”
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The Student Government Association (SGA), in partnership with the Black Student Union (BSU), unanimously passed a resolution at their Oct. 23 meeting that called for the College to raise both a banner and the flag of the Black Lives Matter movement on campus. The resolution recommended that the College hang the banner and flag for the duration of the fall semester, and provided several suggestions as to where both should be placed. In the resolution, the SGA also officially announced their support for the endeavors of the Black Lives Matter movement and the BSU. They also recommended that President of the College Laurie L. Patton meet with representatives of the BSU at the end of the fall semester to discuss the sending of an e-mail statement that would support and endorse the Black Lives Matter movement. The resolution also recommended the “continued effort of the Middlebury administration to consciously observe the deficit of black representation both within the student body and the faculty makeup.” As worded in the bill, “the SGA and the BSU recommend: a careful look at where students are being recruited; how socioeconomic diversity impacts matriculation; investigating why students of color ultimately decide not to attend Middlebury College; investigating retention rates of students of color.” They also recommended “challenging the notion that only ‘trainings’ can facilitate understanding amongst faculty members; and acknowledging the C3 program’s efforts at Middlebury College and exploring similar options for faculty diversity.” The final recommendation made by the SGA and the BSU is for the College to create a standard procedure that would allow students to share their responses to “campus-related issues.” An example of such a procedure, as provided in the bill, would be “a go/link that invites students to express themselves to different campus-related issues.” Members of the BSU, including BSU Co-President Nia Robinson ’19 and Treasurer Clark Lewis ’19, drafted and submitted the bill as part of an ad-hoc committee that the SGA formed three weeks prior to the approval of the bill. The ad-hoc committee also included Community Council Co-Chair David Ollin Pesqueira ’17, Senior Senator Aliza Cohen ’17 and Junior Senator Hanna Pustejovsky ’18, all of whom were the co-sponsors of the bill presented to the SGA. According to Pesqueira, the subcommittee, prior to their first meeting, asked members of BSU to brainstorm recommendations and ideas to be included in the resolution. “We wanted to make sure that BSU’s perspective was the priority because we did not want to lose the passion or authenticity that they brought to this bill,” he said. This year, the SGA, according to SGA President Karina Toy ’17 is making a more concerted effort to work with student-organizations in drafting and voting on proposals. “Right when [the SGA] knew we wanted to talk about this, David invited BSU to come [to a meeting],” said Toy. “If a student group really wants something to happen and we feel, as SGA members, ‘yes, this is something that we want to support them in,’ I think [collaborating] is completely fine.” Both Toy and Pesqueira emphasized the desire of both the SGA and the BSU to have an open dialogue and work with the College’s administrators on this issue. “[We] wanted to make sure that [the resolution] didn’t come off too much as a list of demands and whatnot, because we really do want to work with the administration, and, if anything, we do want to say that it is possible to work with the administration to create these effective policies,” Pesqueira said. On Tuesday, Oct. 25, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of the College Katy Smith Abbott, after a conversation with other members of the College’s Senior Leadership Group (SLG), responded to the resolution in an email to its authors. Abbott wrote that the SLG supports the hanging of a Black Lives Matter flag or banner on campus. “The SLG is in strong support of the BSU hanging a flag or banner in a central space on campus,” Abbott wrote. “In fact, our conversation led us to determine that we are in support of creating a permanent, central space that student groups can have access to for the purpose of raising awareness and for creating support for a major cause or concern.” According to Abbott, members of the SLG suggest that this space or “zone of free expression” be located on the patio in front of the McCullough Student Center, otherwise known as the Wilson Terrace. “This would resemble public spaces seen at other campuses where banners, posters, chalked pavement and others forms of expression are commonly seen,” said Bill Burger, the College’s vice president for communications and chief marketing officer, in a summary of the SLG’s response. “The creation of such a space will take some time and can’t happen over the winter, but it is something we’re eager to see discussed and debated on campus.” Should the space be created, the SLG suggested that the SGA, or a subcommittee of the SGA, be responsible for determining how students can petition to use the space. “Students can discuss whether a flagpole is desired in that space, or whether it would be preferable to have a means of hanging banners from the sides of the building, creating clotheslines for banners somewhere in that area, etc.,” Abbott wrote. In response to the resolution’s call for the College to draft an email statement in support of Black Lives Matter, Abbott said that they will do so when the “zone for free expression” is completed. “The College will include a note of support for Black Lives Matter in a message announcing the establishment of the zone for free expression,” she said. With regard to the SGA’s recommendation that a procedure be created for students to express their thoughts about “campus-related issues,” Abbott’s email said that the SLG believes that the creation of “zone for free expression” would be a powerful and impactful way for students to express their beliefs. However, she did add that if the creation of another platform is particularly important, the SLG would be willing to have another conversation in the future. Abbott also responded to the recommendation from the SGA and the BSU that the College continue to observe the deficit of black representation both within the student body and faculty. “Many of these [recommendations] are actively in process, and are being overseen by various members of the college staff and administration,” Abbott said. “[Chief Diversity Officer] Miguel Fernandez and [Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty] Andi Lloyd have offered to meet with students to offer an update on hiring, and we can certainly have a member of the admissions staff discuss how we are evaluating practices of outreach/recruitment.” When asked by The Campus for comment on the drafting and passing of the bill, as well as a reaction to the response of the SLG, the leadership of the Black Student Union chose to respond, as a board, with the following statement: “We, the board of the Black Student Union, would like to thank the SGA, SLG, and the numerous students who came forward with support for the flag. We are eager to see how it will affect the community’s conversation and how student groups will approach activism in the future. This is a great step for BSU moving forward.”
A live lottery for the Ridgeline Townhouse Application Process took place in Dana Auditorium on Monday, March 21. 10 of the 12 units were offered, granting 80 senior students to live in the new Ridgeline Townhouses opening this fall. The two remaining units will be included in the regular room draw process through BannerWeb. Located along Adirondack View Road, the complex consists of three buildings, each with four separate townhouse units. Each unit contains eight single rooms with full-size beds, a kitchen, living room and laundry appliances. Construction on the project began in the fall of 2015, marking the first major construction project the College has seen since the addition of the Atwater Residence Halls in 2004. “As the townhouses are a new offering at Middlebury, the Residential Life Committee thought that for the opening year the housing should be offered through a live draw rather than the online Large Block draw process,” said Doug Adams, Associate Dean of Students for Residential and Student Life. “This process was recommended to the committee by several student groups when the housing was announced in the spring of 2015.” To enter the lottery, applicants were required to assemble groups of eight students and rank their preferred townhouse units. The application opened online on March 4, and both juniors and seniors were permitted to form groups. However, the application noted that junior and senior-junior mix groups would be drawn only if less than ten senior-only applications were submitted. 33 senior groups submitted applications, and, as such, one group of juniors and two senior-junior mix groups were removed from the lottery. In the same manner as the process for off-campus housing, the live, public lottery assigned each group a number that was entered into a bingo cage, drawn by Adams himself. The first ten numbers were granted townhouses for the upcoming semester. Two of the units, which consist of singles and blocked doubles, were not offered in the live-draw lottery. The decision to leave two units available arose following discussions with student organizations that argued against excluding students who may not be able to assemble a group of eight students but still want to live in the complex. Rooms in these units will be included in the online room draw, which begins on April 18.
The March 6 meeting of the Student Government Association (SGA) began with a vote to recommend that President of the College Laurie L. Patton increase the Student Activities Fee by roughly $0.82 in order to keep the fee in line with changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Currently, the annual fee paid by all students is $410. Junior Senator Karina Toy ’17 announced that after a meeting between members of the SGA and leaders of cultural organizations on campus, the SGA will be emailing their weekly agenda to organization presidents and sending emails to cluster boards during election seasons in an effort to make sure the SGA is more diverse. First-Year Senator Charles Rainey ’19 updated the group on the events that have been held by the First Year Committee over the past year. Events included a “Cookies and Chill” night, a Reg and Feb meet-and-greet and an intercultural open-mic night where students wore an article of clothing important to their culture. Senators voted to approve a proposal introduced by President Ilana Gratch ’16 to begin the SGA election process two weeks earlier than scheduled. Official dates have yet to be determined but elections will occur in mid-April. The March 13 SGA meeting began with an update delivered by Dean of Students Baishakhi Taylor, who shared that the Alliance for an Inclusive Middlebury (AIM) will be hosting a symposium on diversity and inclusion featuring speakers and student leaders from other schools. AIM — which launched in December — is currently developing a website that will be released in the near future. Alumni Affairs is working to make changes to the Kirk Alumni Center to make its photo exhibit more inclusive. The administration will also be hosting a series of faculty dinners to discuss inclusivity and diversity on campus. Senior Senator Madeleine Raber ’16 shared with senators that roughly 275 students attended the 51 Main student-run bar night. Brainerd Senator Jewel Chen ’16 stated that a printer will be added to the LaForce Library in Ross. Sophomore Senator Colin Boyle ’18 introduced a bill to establish a committee comprised of senators, finance committee members and representatives of club sports teams to draft a plan to deal with the funding of club sports. Boyle’s proposal came after SGA Treasurer and Finance Committee Chair Aaron de Toledo ’16 presented a plan at the March 6 SGA meeting to implement a system of club sports funding in which teams would receive funding caps based on their overall cost and participation. De Toledo introduced the proposal in an effort to make the funding of all clubs more equitable. Senators rejected de Toledo’s proposal and passed Boyle’s which, in addition to forming the committee, leaves the current funding system in tact. Should the committee fail to draft a funding proposal, de Toledo’s plan will be implemented, subject to a senate vote. Senators approved changes, proposed by de Toledo, to the Finance Committee guidelines. Changes to the guidelines include establishing a precedent that the committee will only fund food and snacks deemed essential to the club and eliminating the funding of hotels and flights for student events.
At the monthly plenary faculty meeting on March 4, the faculty discussed a proposal to create an open-access repository at the College. The proposal was presented by Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology Svea Closser on behalf of the Open Access Working Group and the Faculty Council. A repository is a database where faculty can make their published articles available for free in one location. The repository would include scholarly journal articles, conference proceedings and book chapters. It would not include creative works, books, commissioned articles or other publications where authors are compensated directly for their writing. Though submission of articles would be mandatory, faculty members would be able to obtain a waiver should they not want an article included. The faculty voted to table the proposal and will vote on it after discussing it in open meetings. Later in the meeting, Professor of Psychology Barbara Hofer, on behalf of the Faculty Council and Appeals Council, proposed changes to the Faculty Handbook. She presented six recommendations aimed at clarifying misunderstandings that originate from the current handbook language regarding the faculty review process. One recommendation proposed changing handbook language to say that any candidate denied a reappointment or promotion would be provided with a written rationale for the decision. Another proposed modifying a passage to clearly state that all tenured faculty members, even when on academic leave, are expected to submit a letter regarding a colleague undergoing review. The faculty in attendance tabled the proposal and will vote on it after discussing it in open meetings. The faculty approved a proposal, made by the Educational Affairs Committee, to clarify language regarding honors eligibility after a student commits an academic honesty infraction. The old language rendered students who received either an official or unofficial College discipline ineligible for graduation and/or departmental honors. Now only students who receive an official College discipline are ineligible from those honors. Joseph Burr Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry Rick Bunt made a motion, on behalf of the First Year Seminar Steering Committee, to support the creation of an “All College Luncheon Day.” At the luncheon, faculty would sit at tables, grouped by department or program, and have lunch with undeclared students on one day, once a semester, to answer questions and provide guidance to students. The goals of the luncheon are to better communicate curriculum changes to students, build greater relationships between faculty and students and get students acclimated to the advising process. The faculty approved the motion, which formally recommends that the administration implement the luncheon.
The Jan. 21 meeting of the Student Government Association (SGA) began with an announcement from Larson Lovdal ’16.5 that $43,000 has been raised to construct the Ian Burgin ’08 Memorial Lodge, exceeding the project team’s goal by $23,000. Last year, the SGA committed $40,000 towards the project. Construction of the cabin, located on the Rikert Trail Network, will begin next fall. SGA President Ilana Gratch ’16 reported that dining services will take over the operation of 10 o’clock Ross. It is Gratch’s hope that this transition will ultimately broaden the options available to students. Gratch asked senators for feedback on the commons system to introduce at a meeting of the College Board of Overseers, for which she is a member. Senators agreed that attitudes towards the commons system vary by individual experiences. Speaker of the Senate Reshma Gogineni ’16 suggested that one way to improve the system would be to have each commons run more consistently in what they do and what kinds of activities they offer. Ross Senator Trisha Singh ’18 said that there should be more inter-commons traditions. Next in the meeting, the SGA passed an election reform bill, authored by SGA Director of Membership Zak Fisher ’16, and sponsored by Gratch. The bill suggested the elimination of the current system of single-transferable-vote (STV) and instant-runoff (IRV) voting, to be replaced by a winner-take-all system. According to Fisher, the old system presented logistical issues and confused the electorate. It is the belief of the SGA that a winner-take-all system will make elections more efficient and easier to grasp. President Gratch began the Jan. 28 meeting by welcoming Rae Aaron ’19.5 and Sebastian Grandas ’19.5, the newly elected Feb senators, to the SGA. Gratch also announced that because no candidate ran to fill the vacant Wonnacott Commons senate seat, she is now responsible for appointing someone to the position. SGA Treasurer Aaron de Toledo ’16 then presented a mid year update on the Finance Committee. As of Jan. 28, the Committee has received $1.38 million in requests and has granted $1.13 million. de Toledo said that the committee has $35,000 available to spend, however, allocating this money would not be ideal because it would cut into the organization’s reserve funds. Over the past year, the Committee has established a new policy dealing with the funding of sound systems, and is currently working on new policies regarding club sports and commons funding. At present, the Committee is preparing for spring budgeting. After de Toledo’s presentation, senators engaged in a discussion about budget philosophy. Senators agreed that, in the future, the SGA should be wary in funding large capital projects, as they pose long term risk. Community Council Co-Chair Tiff Chang ’17.5 said that the SGA should look to implement implicit bias training for the Finance Committee, and that there should be a greater effort to make sure that the Committee is more diverse.
On Feb. 21, the Student Government Association [SGA] passed a bylaws amendment to reform the organization’s election procedures. The bill, written by SGA Director of Membership Zak Fisher ’16, and sponsored by SGA President Ilana Gratch ’16, eliminated the use of single-transferable-vote (STV) and instant-runoff (IRV) voting, and replaced them with a winner-take-all system. In past elections, the SGA has used IRV and STV systems for which voters rank their preferred candidates for any given position. The procedures are designed to attain proportional representation in the election process. With an STV system, if the voter’s preferred candidate has no chance of being elected, the vote is transferred to their second choice, and the process continues until the winner(s) are determined. It also ensures that if a candidate receives a higher percentage of the vote than necessary to win, the excess vote is redistributed. STV is complemented by an IRV system, which dictates that when a candidate fails to receive a determined percentage of the vote, the candidate with the lowest vote total is eliminated and their votes are redistributed. This process continues until a winner emerges. It is the belief of the SGA Elections Council that these systems, as worded in the bill, resulted in “misinformation and confusion” amongst the electorate. “I think, generally, students didn’t understand the old election procedures,” Fisher said. “There were false understandings of ‘strategic advantages’ that could have adversely affected the election returns and polluted the legitimacy of those returns. According to Fisher, the need for reform became apparent when, at the beginning of this academic year, not one senator felt they could adequately explain the system. “When the people who are elected, the people who, theoretically, are most motivated to understand it, don’t understand it, we have a problem,” he said. The past electoral system also presented logistical issues. It took far longer to tally the results, making it more prone to mistakes. Fisher explained that during the old process, as more rounds of voting were needed, the likelihood that an election would result in a tie increased. It is the hope of the SGA that the new process, a winner-take-all system, will make elections far more efficient and easier to grasp. In the new structure, candidates in single-member constituencies will win solely for achieving the highest number of votes. In multi-member constituencies, such as class senator elections, the two candidates who get the most votes will win. The bill was approved by the Senate just four days before the election of the new 2019.5 senators, giving the new system a chance to prove its effectiveness. Febs had the opportunity to select two senators from a field of three candidates, in which Rae Aaron ’19.5 and Sebastian Grandas ’19.5 emerged victorious. Fisher said that it took him five minutes to tally the votes and, within half an hour, the results had been relayed to Gratch and the student body. “For as long as I’ve been at [the College] and involved in SGA in some capacity, I’ve witnessed the great deal of confusion that surrounds SGA elections. To be sure, the instant run-off/single transferable vote system is a sound one, but given that so few students actually understand its intricacies, it doesn’t necessarily make sense to use the system at [the College],” Gratch said. “I’m excited that we now have a voting system that is more accessible to the general student body.” These procedural changes may not be the only reforms that the Senate makes this year. At present, they are examining legislation to shift the timeline of the general elections and drafting solutions to deal with elections that may end in a tie.
President Ilana Gratch ’16 began the Jan. 24 meeting of the Student Government Association (SGA) with the announcement of a new working group to examine dynamics of power and inclusivity on campus. The hope is to implement courses on these topics into the College’s curriculum. Gratch also announced that the Feb election will take place on Feb. 25 and that, despite a special election held earlier this fall, both seats will be up for election. Speaker of the Senate Reshma Gogineni ’16 shared that she is currently working to update MiddCourses with faulty biographies and information on teaching styles. Wonnacott Senator Lisa Han ’16 reported that funds have been secured to purchase rental skates for Kenyon Arena. Once storage space for the skates is obtained, the skates will be ordered and made available for students. SGA Treasurer Aaron de Toledo updated the group that the finance committee will be taking new money requests until Apr. 1. Most organizations have already made their new money requests and the committee is currently transitioning to look at spring budgeting. He also shared that the yearbook came in $22,000 under budget and that money will be returned to the SGA. Senators discussed a proposal to purchase an app and website called LaundryView that would allow students to view when their laundry is finished and when machines are available for use. Last year, the SGA passed a bill to fund half ($3,500) of the project, but the College is not able to pay the other half of the cost. President Gratch shared that one potential way to fund the project would be to increase the cost of laundry by $0.25 for every wash and dry cycle. Senators discussed the merits of the additional cost and came to the consensus that doing so would not be beneficial to students. The meeting concluded with a discussion of creating an SGA-run Facebook group/page to share information and resources about diversity and racism. Senators were skeptical of the effectiveness of such a group. Many agreed that, if it were implemented, it would have to be a small part of an overall effort by the SGA. At the Jan. 31 meeting, Associate Dean of Students for Residential and Student Life Doug Adams asked the SGA for feedback on how rooms should be assigned in the new Ridgeline Housing Complex. According to Adams, students have expressed frustration with the room draw system, and asked that a new method be implemented for the project. Senators agreed that since one of the goals of the new housing is to keep students on campus, seniority should play a role in the process. President Gratch agreed that seniority should be considered, but pointed out that Febs may be disadvantaged should they choose to live with an individual one semester below them, versus one semester above. First-Year Senator Charles Rainey ’19 introduced a bill recommending that Middlebury College President Laurie L. Patton send an all-school email addressing the controversial comments on affirmative action that the now late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made in December. The bill also called for President Patton to address the MLK Today event held in Mead Chapel on Jan. 18 that, as worded in the bill, “featured numerous highly offensive and post-racial actions (to name a few of a long list: a majority white oratory choir reading black experiences in the first-person, white students delivering quotes in a context that police POC’s reactions to racism and songs repeated by the entire chapel suggesting POCs smile and many more).” After much debate, the resolution passed six to four, with two abstentions. Senator Rainey introduced another bill that called for the SGA to release its own statement to the student body addressing both the MLK Today event and Justice Scalia’s comments. The resolution passed seven to five, with one abstention.
Middlebury students celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Friday, Jan. 22 with the College’s annual MLK Day of Service. For more than 15 years, the event, organized by the Community Engagement Office and Anderson Freeman Resource Center, has provided students with the opportunity to participate in service that addresses community-identified needs. Service projects are designed to make students think critically about their role in the local and global communities. This year, volunteers partook in four different community engagement programs that reflected the College’s desire to spark social change. “Students who participate in the day of service learn about their community beyond campus, and reflect on how their volunteering experience plays a part in both limiting and enhancing structural change,” said Elle Bacon, the College’s AmeriCorps VISTA member and the coordinator of this year’s event. One group of students visited Project Independence, a care center for elderly adults in Middlebury, where they discussed Dr. King and shared memories of the Civil Rights movement. Students also conducted an activity using Google Earth to locate places that center residents had lived and been. The exercise afforded volunteers the opportunity to spend time conversing with the adults, who shared stories that ranged from visiting churches in Jerusalem to climbing Mount Fuji in Japan. “It was a very intimate experience,” Maya Peers Nitzberg ’16.5 said. “They would get very excited; they would talk about [their experiences], and they would share their experiences.” Others traveled to the Hannaford Processing Center where they peeled, cut and blanched over 150 pounds of carrots for the Addison County Food Shelf at HOPE, or Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects. The food shelf serves over 600 individuals in Addison County per month by collecting and distributing surplus from local supermarkets and food stores. “It’s different than volunteer work I have done with other shelters because rather than serving meals, HOPE provides food items for the families to cook themselves,” said Deanna Rae Hammel ’19. “They provide support while still allowing a sense of independence, which I think is an important step in these families being lifted out of poverty.” Another set of volunteers facilitated a JusTalks discussion with a social studies class at Middlebury Union High School. The conversation centered around diversity in order to demonstrate the importance of understanding different backgrounds and perspectives. “It made them more open and better advocates because they were exposed to what we showed them,” Raphael Mettle ’18 said. A final group of students traveled to the College St. Children’s Center where they baked goods for the center to distribute during snack time in the coming winter months. The day concluded with a reflection dinner at the newly opened Anderson Freeman Resource Center. Students partook in a discussion regarding King’s views of compassion, and agreed that while the services they provided were small, they were very much needed. “You have to take an active role in making our community better,” Mettle said. “We are having a reflection dinner after the service projects to ‘hit home’ a more impactful message beyond ‘do service because it’s good,’” said Bacon. “Middlebury needs to continue to have a larger conversation, with a diversity of voices, as to the role of MLK Day and MLK Day of Service on campus.” The Anderson Freeman Resource Center and Community Engagement office plan to continue to work together to provide more service opportunities for students and continue conversations about diversity on campus.
On Thursday, Nov. 12, the Center for Careers and Internships (CCI), in partnership with both the Economics Society and the Department of Economics, hosted the latest event in its field guide series entitled “Beyond Wall Street: A Field Guide for Economics Majors.” Now in its second year, the series invites a panel of alumni to discuss the various career paths they pursued with their given major. This event was the first focused exclusively on economics majors looking for postgraduate opportunities beyond the financial services sector. “The whole idea is to say that your liberal arts education can go a long way and there are many diverse things that you can do,” said Director of Academic Outreach and Special Projects Amy McGlashan. McGlashan is a coordinator for the field guide series. Attendees heard from a panel of four alumni who pursued different paths upon graduating from the College. “Everyone thinks, ‘I’m going to go do finance, I’ll make a lot of money. That’s great, but there [are] other alternatives too,” said Alyssa J. Ha ’11, who works as a fiscal officer for the city of Alexandria, Virginia. The panel discussed their experiences finding jobs after graduation. They stated that networking and being proactive greatly enhanced their chances of acquiring their desired jobs. “Networking really does matter,” Ryan Gillette ’08 said. He is the assistant director of the social impact bond lab at the Harvard Kennedy School. “You’ll be surprised by how willing people are to help.” “You learn a lot about what you want to do by just talking to people,” said Neviana Petkova ’01, a research economist at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The panelists advised that, when accepting a first job, it is more important to focus less on the title and more on where that job will lead you. Matthew Groh ’10 advised students to take risks and try new things when figuring out what they want to do. After graduating Groh worked on a microfinance research project in Egypt. Now he is the lead data scientist at Qadium, Inc. “Study whatever you want to do, pursue your passion,” he said. The discussion was followed by a reception where students could meet and connect with the alumni presenters. “I [now] know a lot [about] jobs available to someone who is not necessarily looking at consulting or finance,” said Trisha Singh ’18, an attendee and economics major.
On Oct. 13, the 2015 First Generation Mentorship Program launched with a dinner in Atwater Dining Hall. Now in its third year, the program is designed to help first-generation students adjust to life at the College. This year the program consists of 49 first-years, the largest group to date. “[The program’s participants] are sometimes hesitant and unaware of things like office hours,” said Viviana Altamirano ’16, a first-generation student and the program’s director. “We cannot call our parents for help or insights on majors, classes or assignments. It is like living in a parallel universe on campus.” Present at the kickoff dinner were 15 faculty members who identified as first-generation college graduates. The faculty advisers are a new addition to the program this year and are meant to serve as resources for students in the program. Additionally, the program assigns each of its first-year participants a student mentor. This year, a majority of mentors were former mentees. “There are some things that they can’t ask other first years, and it’s very important to me that I’m there to help them get acclimated to life at Middlebury,” said Lev Khodaverdy ’17, a mentor and former mentee. According to Zorica Radanovic ’19, a mentee, the mentors are available to “answer questions we don’t even know we have yet.” “We are at one of the most affluent colleges in the country, and the assumption is that people do not expect us to be here,” Altamirano said. “Many first generation students get to colleges like Middlebury through self-reliance. When we encounter a challenge, we feel like asking for help is a sign of failure. Though Middlebury offers tutoring, advising and writing, we don’t feel entitled to this academic and emotional support… We hope this program changes that.” For the past two years, the program’s structure relied mostly on individual pairings of mentor and mentees to establish their own relationships. Altamirano noted that the suggested meeting schedule consisted of bi-weekly one-on-one meals. This year however, the program hopes to organize more group events, with a focus on involving faculty. In previous years the training session for mentors consisted of a single half-day session, this year the training will be split up into shorter yet more frequent sessions in collaboration with the Anderson Freeman Resource Center.
Four students were elected to the Student Government Association Senate last Thursday. This fall’s ballot was especially full. Not only were there the annual elections for the two first-year senators, but there were also two special elections to fill the Atwater Senator and Feb senator positions. Michael Brady ’17.5 resigned as Feb Senator after being appointed Chief of Staff for SGA President Ilana Gratch ’16. Daria Cenedella ’18 was elected Atwater senator last spring but resigned at the beginning of the fall semester. “I have chosen personally to resign because I feel that someone else may be better suited to serve on the SGA, and I know many of you within our Commons have the passion and drive to do such,“ Cenedella said. Replacing Brady is Millie von Platen ’18.5. In an interview with The Campus, von Platen expressed her hope to be a reliable channel of communication between the SGA and Febs. According to von Platen, many students have little to no idea what exactly SGA’s role is — she hopes to change that by increasing transparency. One of her goals is to make reaching out to SGA officers as easy as possible, and she wants to inspire all members of the Middlebury community to care about student and campus life. “It’s our job to make people interested about what’s going on,” von Platen said. Von Platen may find an ally in her call for greater transparency in newly elected Atwater Senator Jigar Bhakta ’18, who also cites the need for more community involvement in SGA matters. Bhakta is interested in extending dining hall hours longer into the evening. “For those with late classes and packed evening schedules, getting food can be a huge problem,” Bhakta said. Bhakta also advocates for implementing new intramural activities that promote unity between the Commons. He believes that there need to be more opportunities to meet students in other Commons, and views healthy competitions between the Commons as an ideal way to grow a sense of community on campus. When asked why he ran, Bhakta simply replied, “It felt right.” In a field of six candidates, Charles Rainey ’19 and Kieran Parikh ’19 were elected first- year senators. Parikh said he decided to run after a revelation that he had in his own life that all too often individuals only see things in black and white, and do not adequately listen to one another. One of his goals is to be able to “listen to all concerns as best as possible and be able to address them regardless of personal beliefs.” Rainey decided to run because of his involvement in high school. Having come from a high school where he was heavily involved with student life, Rainey wanted to take this passion and get involved with issues here at Middlebury. Both Parikh and Rainey, like von Platen and Bhakta, cited the need to increase communication and transparency between the SGA and the student body. Rainey, however, sees one of the main jobs of the SGA to promote inclusion on campus. He hopes to play a role in normalizing conversations about race, gender, equality and sexual orientation. “We need to create an environment conducive to living for everyone,” Rainey said.