The exploration begins: first steps alone in Freetown

English below 🙂

Продължавам с още мъничко детайли за Неделята си, която само бегло описах в предишния пост. Сиералеонците, вече съм установила, въобще не признават времето, когато ти кажат, че ще се срещнете “след малко”, това може да бъде от 5 минути до няколко часа. Така половин ден чаках Арнолд уж да дойде да ме вземе за плаж и когато стана около 3 и нещо следобяд, реших, че нямам време за губене- тръгнах сама да обикалям. И понеже мама все ме съветва да не прекалявам със смелостта, реших да се разходя само из квартала. Добре, де, но стигам главния път, вървя мъничко по него и какво да видя: умряло куче по средата на тротоара, ама такова едно от най-страшно изглеждащите: с бяла пяна около устата. Ужасих се, започнах да се оглеждам, но няма връщане назад (пак ще стана за смях), но пък и ме е страх да мина покрай него, да не би само да се прави на умряло. Видя ме едно момче и мина пред мен, и много ми се чуди какво толкова ме е страх.

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Вървя си аз, а хората непрекъснато ми се усмихват, поздравяват ме, честитят ми новата година (аз даже вече забравих, че сме празнували :P). Трябва да призная, че първоначално ме беше малко страх, защото малките улички са толкова бедни и в такъв вид, че да ти настръхне косъма как може да има хора, които да живеят при такива условия. При все това се чувствах много по-комфортно отколкото през по-голяма част от престоя си в Амман, да речем. Няма сексуален тормоз, никой не ходи след теб и не ти досажда.
Бях се запътила към плажа в очакване да разбера колко далеч е сиералеонското “много далече”, когато ми се обади Арнолд, за да ми съобщи, че най-накрая тръгва от тях и че няма да ходим на плаж, а на приятелски футболен мач. Футболът тук е огромна страст и хората не само активно следят всички мачове, но и много често играят. Няколко големи сиералеонски футболни звезди са водещата причина за тази мания; дори и Арнолд, който работи за агенция на ООН ми споделя, че би предпочел да бъде футболист.

img_20170108_1700491Отиваме на националното игрище, което въобще няма вид на такова, но е предоставено на играчите- които поголовно се оказват големи клечки- тъй като техен приятел е министър на спорта. Самият мач на мен не ми беше толкова интересен, колкото това, което последва: първо докараха от някъде тави с пиле и ядохме (Не прави като мен: нямаше вилици и всички мръсни, потни ядоха с ръце. А пък аз се замих с малко минерална вода и реших и аз като тях да ям, но после цяла но
щ ми раздираха котки стомаха). След това се изпи доста Бекс, а когато се стъмни започнаха да се състезават по танцуване: тук всички, ВСИЧКИ танцуват уникално, днес минавах покрай едни бедни къщи, а едно голо дете с радио така се радваше и поклащаше…

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Тоалетната в барчето вместо врата имаше перденце, но при все това никой не те притеснява, докато си вътре

Най-накрая се преместихме в един бар, който представлява една малка стаичка с голи стени, няколко масички и диджей пулт. Обаче и аз се разтанцувах най-накрая, докато не ме държаха краката повече.

Понеделник

На другия ден пак до късно ни вест, ни кост от никого, облякох се и пак излязох сама.  Две пресечки по-късно срещам за втори път едно момче, което отново сърдечно ме поздравява, и този път като вече “познат” го попитах как да стигна до центъра на града. “Къде по-точно?” “Ами,  не знам, в центъра”. Той ми обсяни, че освен с мотоциклет (опасно) или с такси (“скъпо”), мога да се придвижа с автобус или маршрутка, но че те били много наблъскани. “Няма проблем”- казвам аз, винаги готова за приключение и скоро се отзовавам наблъскана в автобус с още 70-80 души при трийсет градусово слънце в два и половина на обяд. На всичкото отгоре- няма такъв трафик! Бога ми, не съм се потила толкова много през целия си живот взет заедно.

IMG_20170109_161759[1].jpgСлед около час в нажежената консерва питам Франсис, който в крайна сметка също се качи на рейса колко още остава, а той засмяно ми обяснява, че никога не си засича времето, така че не може да ми каже. Най-накрая пристигаме, а аз нищо не съм яла и съм мъртво гладна. Оказва се, че Франсис няма намерение да си продължи по пътя, а иска да ме придружи и аз неохотно се съгласявам (всъщност в последствие се оказа, че беше страхотно да се сприятеля с местен и да обикаляме заедно, а Франсис се оказа изключително мил и приятен). Влязохме в едно миниатюрно ресторантче, в което ни предложиха някакво африканско ястие, което не можаха да ми опишат, както и риба. Културният шок бе преди всичко в хигиената или по-скоро тоталната липса на такава- поисках да си измия ръцете, но се оказа, че няма баня и ми донесоха едно миниатюрно легенче, в което да си изплакна ръцете; придружителят ми въобще нямаше такива мераци, при все че ястието, което ни донесоха се яде с ръце. Въпросната риба беше най-тъжната риба, която съм виждала, но какво да правиш- хапнах. За разлика от Арнолд, който ми беше казал, че хората тук не са всъщност бедни и че всички получават по 100-200 долара от роднини в чужбина, Франсис ми каза, че дори и това ресторантче, където платих около 2 долара за яденето ни, би било прекалено скъпо за мнозинството от хора.img_20170109_1617511

С Франсис дълго се разхождахме по улиците и той ми разказва истории и факти за Сиера Леон, както и за себе си. Той бил син на племенен вожд от Севера и въпреки че учи журналистика, голямата му мечта е да влезе в политиката и да създаде нова партия, която да обединява всички сиералеонци, а не да дискриминира определени племена или групи. Понастоящем подобно на САЩ в Сиера Леоне има две управляващи партии, а достъп до най-висшестоящите позиции имат само членове на определени етнически/племенни групи.

Следвайте постовете ми за още истории и впечатления от престоя ми в Сиера Леоне. Възможността да пътувам до едни от най-невероятните кътчета на света и да общувам с хора от целия свят до голяма степен се дължи на това, че знам и свободно говоря на няколко езици. Ако искате да подобрите уменията си по Английски по най-ефективния и бърз начин в интернационална среда с нейтив спийкърс, непременно разгледайте сайтът на новия ми проект: Immersion Language & Leadership Academy

 

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I’m continuing with yet some more about my first Sunday in Sierra Leone (2nd day), which I only briefly described in my previous post. Siera Leoneans- I quickly found out- are not very punctual, so when they tell you they will meet you “in a bit” that could take anywhere from 5 minutes to several hours. I waited for Arnold for half a day before at around 3.30pm I decided I have no time to waste and left the house to walk around by myself. My mom always warns me to not go too far with my bravery, so I decided to only explore the neighborhood since transportation seemed too complicated anyway. Okey, but as soon as I reach the main road and walk on it for a bit I am thrown off by the scariest sight: a dead dog lying in the middle of the path with white around its mouth. I was terrified, but there was no going back- people will laugh at me!- and yet I don’t dare to keep walking (what if it’s not really dead, but only wants me to think so?!) At the end a boy walked in front of me and couldn’t understand why I’m so scared…

I’m walking down the street and people are smiling at me, greeting me, saying “Happy New Year!” (I already forgot we recently celebrated :P). At first I was a bit afraid because some of the little streets are so poor, I can’t but wonder how people can live in such conditions. And yet I felt more comfortable than during most of my stay in, say, Amman: no sexual harassment, no one walks behind you or bothers you.

I was heading towards the beach curious to find out how far is the Sierraleonean “really far”, when Arnold cold me to let me know he’s finally leaving his home and that instead of going to the beach we’ll go to a football match his friends organized. Football is a huge passion here and people not only follow actively all games, but also play frequently (no wonder everyone is so fit and good-looking). Several big Sierraleonean football starts are the reason for this craze; even Arnold who wors for a UN agency tells me he would rather be a football player.

img_20170108_1700491Arnold’s friends- all big fish in Sierra Leone- are given access to the National Stadium (which hardly looks like one) because a friend of theirs holds an important position with the Sport Ministry. I wasn’t that interested with the game, but loved what followed: first, after the match people brought from somewhere several giant plates with chicken (Don’t do what I did: there were no forks and everyone, dirty and sweaty after the game, ate with bare hands; I tried to wash my hands with some mineral water, but nevertheless followed my travelling mantra “When in Rome, do as Romans do”, but then cats were scratching my stomach all night long!) People drank a lot of Becks afterwards, and when darkness had fallen the dance competitions began: EVERYONE here is amazing at dancing (I was passing by some poor houses today and I saw a naked child holding a radio and dancing so, so happily, it was pure joy to watch him).

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The bathroom in the bar had no door and yet no one would bother you, while you’re inside

At last, we moved on to a bar which was nothing more than a small room with bare walls, a few tables and a DJ. The atmosphere was so enthralling, I got up to dance and didn’t stop until my legs couldn’t stand…

 

Monday

I didn’t hear from anyone until late the next day again, so I once more dressed up and went out by myself. Just around the corner I meet the same guy I had met the previous day, we chat a bit and this time (now that he is no loner a stranger) I ask him how to get to the city center. “Where exactly?” “I don’t know- in the city center”. He explains to me that there are several modes of transportation: I can go by motorcycle (“dangerous”), taxi (“expensive”) or by a public bus or shuttle, but these are “so very congested”. “No problem”, I say (“When in Rome…”, remember?) and I soon find myself on a bus with 70-80 more people at 2.30 pm in the worst of heat (it was 30+ degrees Celsius). On top of everything: tons of traffic and we’re hardly moving. I haven’t sweated so much in my whole life altogether.

img_20170109_1617591An hour later, jammed in the hot tin, I ask Francis who has also got on the bus to tell me how much more is left and he laughingly replies that he never times the trip, so he can’t tell. At last, we arrive to Regents Road in the midst of some of the largest crowds I’ve seen. It turns out Francis isn’t planning on departing and I reluctantly agree that he accompanies me (turned out he was incredibly kind and respectful and I was really happy to have made another local friend). I was really hungry, so we entered a tiny restaurant where we were offered an African dish no one could describe to me, as well as fish. The cultural shock came from the hygiene- or rather lack of such- I asked tow ash my hands, but it turned out there was no bathroom, so I was brought a tiny water basin to wash my hands in; my companion made no such request, yet the dish we were to eat is consumed by hand. The fish we got was the saddest fish I have seen, but hunger had its word, so I ate some. In contrast to Arnold who had told me that most people aren’t actually poor and receive 100-200$ by relatives abroad every month, Francis told me that most people can’t even afford our shared 2$ meal.

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We then walked for long and he told me many stories and fact about Sierra Leone, as well as about himself. He said he was the son of a Tribal Chief from the North and that although he studied Journalism, he really wanted to go into politics and create a new party which will bring together all groups and tribes in the country, and not discriminate against some. Currently, Sierra Leone has two ruling parties with access to the highest political offices granted to only members of few tribes/ethnic groups.

Follow my posts for more stories and observations from Sierra Leone🙂

 

 


Digital Projects & Archives Librarian Patrick Wallace featured on Archive-It Blog – Unauthorized Voices in the Archive: Documenting Student Life in Middlebury College’s Community Web Archive

Read it on Archive-It’s blog or below!

Source: Archive-It Blog – Unauthorized Voices in the Archive: Documenting Student Life in Middlebury College’s Community Web Archive

 

Unauthorized Voices in the Archive: Documenting Student Life in Middlebury College’s Community Web Archive

The following is a guest post by Patrick Wallace, Digital Projects & Archives Librarian at Middlebury College.

 

In November 2015, as I stepped into my position as Middlebury College’s first digital archivist, our Director of Special Collections approached me for ideas on how to begin work toward three mutual goals: providing boldly promiscuous, public access to our digital collections; preserving born-digital and web content; and, including fuller representations of student life in the college archives. Like many institutions, Middlebury’s previous efforts to preserve institutional memory emphasized – at least implicitly – the authorized, public face of the college: official publications, administrative business, sanctioned student activities, and so on. The college archives therefore represented a mostly sanitized view of campus culture, a clean and uncontroversial history that we in Special Collections found unacceptable at a time when student protests over issues of discrimination, violence, gender and sexual identity, racial diversity, and a host of critical social justice issues were shaking up campuses nationwide, and as Middlebury was making conscious institutional efforts to improve on-campus diversity, inclusivity, and community wellness. Subsequently, our first major initiative toward change was the Middlebury College Community Web Archive, which began, and remains, a central effort by the college archives toward constructing a more just institutional memory.

 

Queer Faces of Middlebury, a student-created photographic narrative documenting diversity among students, staff, and faculty.

 

A major goal of the project has been to capture and preserve discussions happening in Middlebury’s culturally diverse activist margins. Student debate and activism happens in large part online, especially via Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Tumblr, and other social media outlets. Students often speak more freely in these virtual spaces than they might, for example, in the editorial pages of the college’s newspaper or in an institutionally-sanctioned town hall discussion. As a long time fan, I had been suggesting that the Internet Archive would play a central role in our digital collections strategy from the time of my job interview, and the ideas behind the Community Web Archive delivered a perfect justification for partnering with Archive-It.

Identifying and collecting student-created content from unsanctioned online sources (e.g. sites outside of our institutional web domain, or social media feeds from organizations unaffiliated with the college) was a clear priority, but not without a host of risks and difficult choices: we had concerns about unfairly appropriating student voices for our own work; we wrung our hands over how to organize potentially controversial materials; we discussed concerns about administrative pushback; we worried about inspiring resentment or mistrust in students who were critical of the establishment to which we in the archives are certainly beholden. As archivists and curators, we have immense power to shape history. It is my decided opinion that participating in the soft censorship of omission in deference to a personal fear of backlash is grossly unethical. Therefore, the famous words of computing pioneer Grace Hopper–“it is easier to ask for forgiveness than to get permission”–have been a central guiding principle of our digital collections strategy.

 

Image from a student created “disorientation guide” questioning institutional efforts at improving campus diversity (disorientmidd.wordpress.com).

 

Yet, the archives are also an institutional authority, and when our artifacts represent voices set in opposition to that same authority, it is imperative that we remain sensitive to the risk of exploiting or misrepresenting student experiences in our collections. Organization and definition presented an immediate challenge. YouTube channels by Middlebury’s acapella singing groups could certainly live comfortably and uncontroversially alongside the Mountain Club’s Facebook account. But what about a pseudonymous student’s blog post about the failed and traumatic institutional response to their sexual assault? What about an environmentalist polemic that cast Middlebury – the first school in the country to offer an undergraduate degree in environmental studies – and its administration in a less than favorable light? What about the website of a satirical publication that, while venerable on campus, is run independently of the college?

To answer the question of classification, I proposed that we turn to our original goal – to provide a full and honest view of student life – and make the choice not to impose artificial distinctions. Theater and mountaineering have long been a part of the “college experience” at Middlebury, but so have sexual violence and racial discrimination; to suggest otherwise would be fundamentally disingenuous and contrary to our aims. We reached out informally to a number of students and recent graduates, and encouraged them to speak with their peers in turn; all agreed that a boldly inclusive collection was the best solution. To be honest, I still do not know if this is a representative view among the student body, much less among the administration. However, I firmly believe that the Middlebury College Community Web Archive is the most radical, candid, and diverse sampling of student voices ever collected by the college archives.

 

Documenting broccoli served in a Middlebury College dining hall (proc-broc.tumblr.com).

 

Another key question was how to identify URLs for preservation, and do so in a way that allowed student participation in the curatorial process. An initial set of seeds was proposed by our Special Collections’ postgraduate fellow, Mikaela Taylor, a recent graduate who was aware of popular student publications and activities that might escape the attention of other library staff. However, we did not want all of the curatorial decision making to come from within the archives. We set up a Drupal form for URL submission linked from the library website, and Mikaela led promotional efforts encouraging students to submit their favorite websites, blogs, and social media feeds. The form is designed to be simple; aside from the site URL and a field for descriptive information, the form asks simply if the submitter has rights to the site content, and if not, whether or not they know who does. As a rule, if a URL is submitted by a Middlebury community member, it is included in the archive; we have chosen not to crawl perhaps half a dozen because their size or document count was more than our Archive-It subscription can currently accommodate.

One of our notable promotion campaigns came at the end of the spring semester, when graduating seniors traditionally post “crush lists” – creative posters listing platonic or romantic crushes from their college years – in common areas. A mock crush list created by Special Collections listed some of our favorite sites included in the web archive, with links to the submission form. The response was good, and provided URLs for several sites now in the collection. When facilities management began taking down the crush lists, students began posting scans and photographs to Tumblr; the site URL was submitted to the archives and added as a seed. Out of over a hundred seeds being crawled, only the crush lists site has been kept out of the public archive, because of concerns over privacy.

 

Middlebury’s URL submission form for students & faculty.

 

Work on the archive continues, and we are adding more seeds while actively developing workflows to bring WARC files from Archive-It into our nascent institutional repository. As I write this, the Middlebury College Community Web Archive contains 138 seeds (97 public) totalling over 53GB of data and a million documents, with an incredibly broad range of content: a collection of animated GIFs lampooning the college experience at Middlebury; local news articles about racist attacks carried out against a student government candidate via YikYak; blogs by students studying abroad that focus on cheese and textiles in different countries; Facebook pages representing Middlebury’s Black Student Union, LGBTQ+ activist groups, local musical acts, theater troupes, and fossil fuel divestment initiatives. Adding descriptive metadata remains a work in progress, but more than half of the public seeds include fairly rich descriptive information.

Submissions keep coming in and our promotional efforts have not abated. We are proud of the work our partnership with Archive-it has facilitated, and certainly hope our collections provide future researchers, students, and alumni with as much fascination and insight as we in Middlebury College’s Special Collections and Archives have gained through their development.

 

Feb Kellogg Fellows Presentations

Please join Undergraduate Research in the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Research (Davis Library 225) on Tuesday, January 17 for presentations from our Feb Kellogg Fellows. Refreshments available beginning at 4:15 pm. Presentations will begin at 4:30 pm. The fellows, as well as Dean Lisa Gates, will be available for general questions about the fellowship […]

Annual Performance Summary Process for Staff Members

Dear Colleagues,

I write to provide you with information regarding upcoming workshops to assist supervisors, managers and staff in preparation for the Annual Performance Summary (APS) process. Please share this information with your staff members.  In addition to the on-line tools referenced below, including an audio training presentation, we are offering two live APS workshops for new employees and supervisors undergoing the APS process for the first time:

Tuesday, February 7 from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. (Mitchell Green Lounge)

Thursday, February 16 from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Mitchell Green Lounge) 

For those who have already attended a live or recorded workshop, additional Question & Answer Sessions are available to provide support for supervisors, managers and staff as you prepare your performance documentation:

 

Tuesday, February 21 from 11:00 a.m. to noon (Marble Works)

Tuesday, March 7 from 11:00 a.m. to noon (Marble Works)

Thursday, March 9 from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Marble Works) 

Please email lcaroten@middlebury.edu or call x2012 to register.  In addition, please feel free to contact me with requests for individual support and/or department specific consultation or training.  Click below for more information or to access the on-line audio training.

http://www.middlebury.edu/offices/business/hr/staffandfaculty/evals

*Note:  New for this year, please forward all completed and signed evaluations electronically to Perry Richards (pgrichar@middlebury.edu).  Hard copies will not be necessary.

 

Laura Carotenuto
Human Resources

 

Midd/MIIS Travelers

The following employees have reported upcoming travel between Midd and MIIS:

From Midd to MIIS From MIIS to Midd
Rich Wolfson, Physics

Jan 10-28

Melissa Hanham, CNS

Feb 27-29

Dan Brayton, English & American Literatures

last week in January

Jeffrey Lewis, CNS

Feb 27-29

Colleen Fitzpatrick, Advancement

1/23-2/1

 
Karen Miller, Human Resources

late January

 
Cathy Vincent, Human Resources

late January/early February

 
John Elder, Env. Studies

March 4-11

 
Chris Spencer, Communications and Marketing

Mar 13-18

 
Demetrius Borge, Communications and Marketing

Mar 13-18

 
Molly Anderson, Food Studies

March 21-April 3

 
Orion Lewis, Political Science

January/March

 
Several VT community members, including

Peggy Burns, Susan Baldridge, and Jeff Cason,

For Board of Trustees Meeting

Week of Jan 23

 
Pam Berenbaum, Sociology/Anthropology

Spring

IMPORTANT BENEFITS UPDATES AND REMINDERS

The start of the new year ushered in a host of important employee benefit changes; please read this article carefully to ensure that you are up-to-speed on what’s new or different as well as for reminders that apply to the start of all new benefit plan years.

 

 

 

Medical and Dental Insurance

Effective January 1, 2017 our medical, prescription (including home delivery) and dental plans are being administered by CIGNA, rather than CBABlue.

  • Standard CIGNA medical ID cards, which have the subscriber’s (employee’s) name on all cards – including dependents’ cards – were mailed to participants’ home addresses in mid-December. Individualized medical ID cards – which are personalized with dependents’ names – were generated and mailed on December 31st and should be arriving at home addresses within the first two weeks of January. Once individualized cards arrive the original (employee name only) cards can be destroyed or retained as back-ups. Individualized dental ID cards were mailed to participants’ home addresses in mid-December.
  • Please remember that any medical or dental claims incurred through December 31, 2016 must be filed for payment through CBABlue; any claims incurred on or after January 1, 2017 must be filed through CIGNA.
  • As was announced in October, employee contributions toward medical and dental premiums were increased for 2017; new premiums will be reflected in the first paychecks issued in 2017. Additionally, employees who made coverage level changes (i.e. from family to single) should see the premium deduction applicable to the new coverage level applied in the first paycheck.
  • With the transition to CIGNA as our plan administrator most major medical plan design features remain stable, meaning that there were no increases in employee cost-sharing through changes in deductibles, co-insurance, the medical out-of-pocket maximum, prescription co-pays etc. However, as noted in the November 1st open enrollment announcement, several provisions were modernized or enhanced, including: the addition of Telehealth coverage (see attached brochure), coverage for gender reassignment, modernized criteria for bariatric surgery, cash incentives for participation in the healthy pregnancy program, elimination of the limit on medically necessary wigs, ER visits are now subject to the regular deductible and the redundant routine eye exam benefit has been eliminated.
  • Plan participants who have used Magellan for home delivery pharmacy services will need to switch to CIGNA’s home delivery service if they wish to continue taking advantage of the convenience and cost-savings associated with home delivery. Switching to CIGNA is quick and easy – just follow the instructions on the Quick Switch flyer attached to this article.
  • Members who had been working with a CBABlue case manager should have already been contacted by CIGNA to transition care; if you believe you should have been contacted and have not been, please contact HR.
  • CIGNA’s website and mobile app are easy to use and provide convenient access to a wealth of information and services including: recent claims history, the ability to print temporary ID cards and to access virtual ID cards, provider network search, the ability to see real-time progress towards deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums, drug cost comparison tools, virtual explanations-of-benefits (EoBs), etc. To take advantage of these on-line services please follow the instructions on the attached MyCigna.Com flyer.
  • The major dental plan design features remain stable, meaning that there has been no increase in employee cost-sharing through changes in deductibles, co-insurance, etc. However, the plan has been enhanced with the addition of dental wellness benefits for individuals with certain health conditions (see attached brochure) and the reduction in waiting period for orthodontic care from 24 to 12 months for late plan entrants.
  • CIGNA will be on the Middlebury campus three days this month and available to meet one-on-one with plan participants who have questions or need assistance with plan transition issues. Use this link http://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090e4cadac2babf49-cigna2 if you would like to schedule a meeting with our CIGNA rep. (Additional one-on-one days can be scheduled at MIIS if there is sufficient interest; please let HR know if you would like us to arrange additional MIIS meeting days.)
  • The Middlebury Health and Welfare Summary Plan Description is currently being revised to reflect CIGNA as our third-party administrator. In the meantime, a good deal of additional information about CIGNA is available on the HR website.

Vision Insurance

Our vision plan is remaining with Vision Service Plan (VSP).

  • The premium for the vision plan did not increase for 2017, however participants who changed coverage levels during open enrollment (i.e. switched from single to family coverage) will see the resultant premium change in the first paycheck in 2017.

The plan design will remain the same.  Remember, ID cards are not required (simply tell your VSP provider the last 4 digits of your SSN and date of birth). A summary of the plan and other helpful information is available on-line at http://www.middlebury.edu/offices/business/hr/staffandfaculty/benefits/vision.

 

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)

Effective January 1, 2017 our health care and dependent care FSAs will be administered by Business Plans, Inc. (BPI), through their “MyCafeteriaPlan” FSA service.

  • Please remember that any medical or dependent care FSA claims incurred through December 31, 2016 must be filed for reimbursement through CBABlue; any claims incurred on or after January 1, 2017 must be filed through MyCafeteriaPlan.
  • The MyCafeteriaPlan website and mobile app are excellent sources of real-time information and are easy to use; instructions for accessing your account can be found on the new user login information flyer attached.
  • You will have several options for FSA claims filing, including uploading claims to the website or app, or faxing or mailing a paper claim form (see claim form attached).
  • If you would prefer to have reimbursements direct deposited, you will need to either complete and submit a paper election form (see form attached) or enroll on-line through your MyCafeteriaPlan account on the web or mobile app.
  • All 2017 FSA participants should have received FSA debit cards in late December. These red Visa-branded cards, called BennyCards, allow participants the option to access available FSA funds directly. Information about using the debit card with your FSA account can be found on the FSA Plan Details brochure attached. Using the Benny card is convenient however do keep in mind that the IRS requires substantiation for most expenses paid by use of such cards, so receipts must be maintained. (Participants will be notified by MyCafeteriaPlan if substantiation is required.)
  • Elections in health care and dependent care Flexible Spending Accounts for 2017 should be reflected in employees’ first paychecks. Please review your pay stub and confirm that your contribution is correct (divide your total annual election by 26 and round up to the nearest penny to calculate your per pay-period election.)
  • Remember, you have until March 15, 2017 to file claims for services incurred during 2016; those claims must be filed with CBABlue.
  • After the 2016 runout period ends on March 15th any funds, up to a $500 maximum, that are remaining in participant’s health FSA accounts at CBABlue will be automatically transferred to a MyCafeterialPlan roll-over account and will then be available for reimbursement of 2017 expenses. This rollover process is expected to be complete by the end of April.

 


Voluntary Life and Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) Insurance

No plan changes were made to our Voluntary Life and AD&D insurance 2017.

  • Premiums changes related to coverage amount or age-band changes (5 year increments) should be reflected in the first paycheck in 2017; if you made changes or you hit a new age band in 2016, please confirm that your premium changed.
  • Requests for new life coverage and/or for increases in life coverage over the guarantee issue amount are not effective until approved by UNUM. An Evidence of Insurability (EoI) form must be submitted by you to UNUM if you have requested this type of change. Notification of required EoI along with a link to the on-line EoI form will be distributed to affected employees during January; UNUM will notify employees of directly of approval or denial of coverage. Any premium changes will be made as of the effective date of the approved coverage.

Retirement

No plan changes were made to our retirement plan design.

  • If you submitted forms prior to the holiday break requesting changes to your Voluntary Retirement Plan contribution amount, or to enroll in the 457b Salary Deferral Supplemental Retirement Plan, your new elections should have been reflected in your first paycheck of 2017. If you requested such changes, please confirm that your elections are as you expected.

Trouble-free employee benefit plan administration requires a strong partnership between employees and Human Resources. Please carefully review your first paycheck and let us know if you have questions or if anything seems amiss, and please take the time to familiarize yourself with CIGNA and BPI’s (MyCafeteriaPlan) services and benefits.

If you have questions or concerns about your benefits, please contact your benefits team: Nancy Lindberg (nlindberg@middlebury.edu / 802-443-3372) or Franklin Daniel (fdaniel@middlebury.edu / 802-443-5755.)

 

Cheryl Mullins

 

 

Removal of home directories

Hello everyone,

As part of our ongoing migration from Middfiles to the cloud, we are removing empty home directories starting today. This is only for HOME folders that have no files in them at all, either because the owner has successfully migrated all of their data and deleted it from Middfiles as we requested, or because they weren’t using their home directories in the first place. This is to prevent “backsliding” if someone accidentally tries to put a file in their U: drive.

In addition, new home directories are no longer being created for new accounts. New faculty, staff, and students should use OneDrive or Google Drive for your storage needs.