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Category Archive for 'Commons'

Our guest blogger today is Doug Adams, associate dean of students, writing about a topic of great interest to most students: Room Draw.

—Shirley M. Collado

I have to confess that I was a bit reticent when I was asked to be a guest blogger. I thought, what do I have to share that will ease the minds of students around Room Draw? Even more distressing was the thought that I might add to confusion in some way and actually increase your stress levels!

So I took a quick walk around the campus to think about what I might say. As I strolled through the beautiful fall foliage, seeing students hurrying off to class, laughing in a group outside Proctor, enjoying the sunny day, or sprinting past me on an afternoon jog, I reflected that Middlebury is so much more than the bricks and mortar of its buildings. Middlebury is its people and its community. The same is true of the College’s housing. In the end, it really doesn’t matter which building you are living in but rather the people you are living with.

Click here to read more

I met Rob LaMoy shortly after he returned from an exchange program at Swarthmore and then did a presentation about his experience for the Board of Trustees. I was immediately taken by his honesty and insightful views of social life on campus, and I wanted to learn more. I asked him to write a guest post this week—and I’m glad I did. Please chime in with your thoughts about this important topic.
—Shirley Collado

 

Last spring, I was fortunate enough to study at Swarthmore College for a semester through the Middlebury-Swarthmore domestic exchange program. One of the striking differences I noticed between the two schools was how openly “Swatties” of all ages consumed alcohol without facing disciplinary action.

When I returned to Middlebury last September, I submitted an Op-Ed to the Campus about how Swarthmore enforces its alcohol policy. One reader thought I should take a look at the differences between Pennsylvania and Vermont law to better understand why Swarthmore and Middlebury students are treated so differently. This is a valid critique; still, I don’t believe that Middlebury’s hands are completely tied by the law, and I am concerned about the stifling effects our current policies have had on student social life.

Earlier this year, I witnessed a group of first-years sprint out of a social house because it was rumored that Public Safety was passing through. These particular first-years were still on their orientation week, and as such, they had no idea that they were allowed to stay as long as they were not holding drinks. I was inside the social house, unaware of their presence, so it is hard to say if any of them were drinking.

When I thought about it further, I could not help but wonder: were they drinking, or terrified of Public Safety, or both? And should we really devote such a massive portion of our institutional resources toward stamping out moderate drinking?

Middlebury’s student alcohol studies have shown that potentially destructive drinking patterns have worsened in the past few years. Halfway through the 2008 fall semester, 40 percent of first-years engaged in “high-risk” drinking at least once in the two weeks prior to when they were polled. At the same point in 2010, the figure had increased to 55 percent of all first-years.

Some might read this data as evidence that a more rigorous enforcement policy is needed to reduce overall student drinking, and that a more hands-off enforcement policy could exacerbate the problem when students realize that they can drink as much as they want without having to check over their shoulders for Public Safety. But it is important to note that there must be other variables in this equation, because Middlebury’s policies have changed very little in recent years, and yet there seems to be more drinking happening on campus.

This increase in alcohol consumption is troubling, especially when paired with hazy standards of how students are supposed to conduct themselves when they drink. For example, in 2009, I was at an Atwater dance on Halloween Night, called Baile Terror, which was shut down by Public Safety. The reason for the shutdown was that some students were too drunk to wait in line to get into the dance and decided to give security a hard time. Our campus never had a serious discussion about what role students played in this incident, mostly because many assumed that the security officers hired by the College didn’t handle the situation well.

Several parties have been shut down every year since then for similar reasons. Most incidents, such as one last October that resulted in a broken window at the Bunker, usually only involve a few students.

My guess is that the sentiment of most students on these matters is similar to a comment posted on Middlebury Confessional: “BROS: STOP BREAKING SHIT. ADMINISTRATION: BACK OFF.” Unfortunately, the dysfunctional aspects of Middlebury’s drinking culture go well beyond “bros [just ‘bros’?] breaking shit.” Moreover, it seems likely that some level of destructive behavior will persist, even if the administration decides to “back off.” My point is that the dominant drinking culture here is something that a lot of students either participate in or tolerate, even if they are not necessarily the ones who are kicking over trashcans in front of Atwater Hall (to name one example).

On that note, I would like to conclude with a few questions. In the context of alcohol use at Middlebury, which is more influential, in your view—institutional policy or student drinking culture? Is Middlebury’s drinking culture a problem? (Leave comments by clicking here.)

 

Fitting In

Dear Readers,

 My guest blogger this week is Stanis Moody-Roberts. Stanis is a CRA in Wonnacott Commons. He shares with us his heartfelt experience of being a student here and the rewards he’s found on the job in residential life, where he’s seen how our community can be a source of strength and purpose. As always, I look forward to hearing your comments about this interesting post.

—Shirley M. Collado

The great thing about being a CRA is that, as staff, we’re involved in quite a number of the issues at the forefront of campus dialogue. We’re also in the unique position of having just been Middlebury students, so we approach our jobs with the perspective our student experience offers. This post is dedicated those Middkids who don’t feel as if they fit in here. And that’s a greater number of us than we might perceive.

As a CRA, I get the chance to talk to a lot of people. Mostly about how their day (or night) went. As in:

 Stanis: “Hi _____!!”
____: “Hi Stanis!!”
(Awkward pause)
Stanis:
“How’s it going?”
____: “Good! How about you?”
Stanis: “Good!”
(Awkward pause)
Stanis:
“How was your day?”
___: “Good! I went to class! Ate lunch at Atwater! Went to the gym! It’s cold as #$%@ out!”

 I love those little conversations. I love talking to people, and I really love smiling awkwardly (some Wonnacott first-years honored me with the link go/crastanis). But every now and then, I get the chance to have a more in-depth conversation about a challenge someone is facing. These conversations mean a lot to me because I, too, struggled at times with fitting in here. I carefully hid those struggles and pretended everything was going great—and I think that only made it worse for me.

I don’t want others to “settle” and go the same route that I did; so, I deeply value the conversations that I have that touch upon a difficulty of life here at Middlebury.

Middlebury is a funny place. There’s a lot of pressure to feel happy here. You should be happy: we’re living in a near-perfect, ideal kind of world (they don’t call it a bubble for nothing). If you can’t thrive here, then are you even capable of thriving? We’ve got some of the best, most intelligent professors out there, who are accessible and care about their students. We have a gorgeous campus, a dining plan that rivals any other college, some incredibly talented peers, opportunities up the wazoo for personal growth and professional development—what do you mean you’re not happy? Sometimes it’s hard to express a feeling of not fitting in without feeling like it might be your fault.

That is, at least, my experience for some of my time here. Freshman year, I shamefully passed in every paper for my seminar at least a couple days late (my final paper Christmas Eve). I couldn’t for the life of me understand, of all classes, Intro to Microeconomics. My parents were in the midst of a nasty divorce, and that made me feel even worse. I felt I had to lie: To my friends, I was with my girlfriend all the time. To my girlfriend, I was with my friends all the time. I was really holed up in the upstairs lab of Sunderland, discouraged and down about myself, and even less able to learn or write because of it. In hindsight, I see now that I had wonderful people who cared about me, and who I would grow really to love, but in my mental state, I felt no great connections to anyone.  It’s amazing how alone you can sometimes feel, surrounded by hundreds of others in the dark, booming basement of a social house on a Saturday night.

It wasn’t until my senior year, after a semester off and a semester abroad, that things started to really click for me. I found a major I was fascinated with and could do well in. I started opening myself up and feeling stronger connections to those around me. I began to really appreciate my time at Middlebury. I began to feel like I really fit in with many of the wonderful people here. I wish I had worked to figure that all out long before. So, what I want to say is, if you’re facing hurdles, if you’re stumbling on any obstacles, please don’t just lock it up inside and fake a smile and pretend everything is all right. Talk about it. Be open—with your friends, your family, the counseling center, your res life staff—anyone you might feel comfortable with. As a CRA and as a recent alum with a personal stake in wanting students to thrive here sooner rather than later, I’m always up for a conversation—look me up in the directory if you want to talk.

There is another, related matter that I would like to touch on—the health and strength of our community. We do have a really wonderful institution here at Middlebury. We have a ton of resources at our disposal, a highly talented faculty and student body, and plenty of opportunity and paths to success. But for those of us who wrestle, to some degree, with fitting in, we will never come close to realizing our true potential until we are able to feel comfortable and good about ourselves within the Middlebury environment—to feel at home here. Our community, therefore, is one of our greatest assets. Its inclusiveness, its supportiveness, and its openness to a great diversity of personalities are crucial to making this campus the most effective place it can be.

The importance of community really struck home to me at last week’s MLK memorial celebration in Mead Chapel. Dr. King was a true believer in the power of a community that makes room for everyone, and he believed in the ability of a community to adapt. As we all took hands to sing “We Shall Overcome,” the feeling of community within that chapel was so palpable. Sometimes I think that feeling is missing here in the broader Middlebury context.

I’d therefore like to end this post by asking a few questions. Do you see failings in our community here? How does it compare to where you grew up? Where is there room for improvement? Is our diversity of social groups (and their choices/values) at a healthy balance?  How do you feel about the Commons system? This is all part of a broader conversation that I believe is worth having. Because, ultimately, our community is US.  You and me.  And we are the ones who make it what it is, and who have the power to make it how we wish it to be. (You can reach the comments section here.)

 

Dear Readers,

I was very pleased when Manuel Carballo accepted my invitation to write a guest post this week. As the new director of admissions, he brings to campus a dynamic viewpoint about what it takes to create the type of diverse, welcoming community we all would like to live in. I look forward to hearing your comments and thoughts.

—Shirley M. Collado

This past summer, I moved to Middlebury, Vermont. Again. Having grown up in Costa Rica and not being a big fan of cold weather, this was a bit of a surprise to me, and yet as I talked about the move, I found myself saying time and time again that I was moving back home to Middlebury. While I enjoyed my time away in Austin, Texas, I really missed this place. I missed cheering at basketball games, Commons dinners at Atwater, and having students over for burrito night. Mostly, I missed the casual encounters around campus and getting a chance to reconnect with students and grab a cup of hot chocolate. Bumping into many of you has been a great homecoming indeed.

My role in the Admissions Office allows me the privilege of working with wonderful students from around the world as they are making one of the first major decisions in their lives. It’s an exciting time that invites students to think critically about the place they may want to call home for the next four years. The decision is made with much anticipation and excitement, but soon there is a realization that leaving home means getting out from under that warm security blanket. Making Middlebury and any other place feel like home takes some work and does not always come easily.

Soon after arriving at Midd more than six years ago, I remember getting excited about a Latino festival taking place in Burlington. Having left my favorite Costa Rican restaurant behind in Philly, as well as the great Tex-Mex in Dallas, I was ready for some good food (comida de la buena, not the limited Latino section at our local grocery store, which leaves me searching for plátanos and fresh tortillas) and a little bit of music to warm the soul. When my wife, Brook, and I arrived at the festival, we were somewhat underwhelmed. Other than some empanadas, a handful of street vendors selling hotdogs, and some music in the background, this wasn’t quite the Latino festival I had envisioned. But in all fairness, that was only my first impression. Later I recognized a mostly Caucasian crowd gathering to celebrate my culture, and I really appreciated that. By the end of the night, one of the most diverse salsa bands I’ve seen performed, and they seemed to get it just right.

Our diversity is not always visible from the outside. It comes from our shared experiences and a willingness to live in the intentional community that a small town provides. Most of us didn’t grow up here or dream of snow-filled winters. I certainly did not. I also never imagined making my home in a place where I didn’t have to lock my doors or where a trip to the post office means always bumping into friends.

Making Middlebury more diverse and welcoming takes a lot of work. It takes a community that values discomfort and welcomes those who can offer a different perspective. It also takes some brave souls who are willing to step out of their comfort zone and take on the additional challenge of entering a place that may not feel like home right away. It means some bumps and bruises along the way, but I also hope it means that we all benefit from incredible interactions and learning experiences in and out of the classroom.

Six years later, I have to say that things look different at Middlebury. Our student body looks more diverse, but more importantly, feels more diverse. Students are talking about privilege, panels are discussing socioeconomic differences, and Verbal Onslaught at 51 Main packs the house! A stroll around town, going to church on Sunday, and attending a lecture on campus reveal a much more diverse place than what I saw when I first arrived and even when I left just two years ago. There is no doubt that there is still much work to be done, but I hope that we will recognize the progress and all lend a hand in continuing to make Middlebury a place we’re all proud to call home.

Maybe I’ll even give the burrito cart a shot! Maybe.

 

I believe we are at a tipping point at Middlebury. This moment and opportunity will require real commitment and the generation of creative and serious solutions as we look for ways to improve student-life options on campus. The process began last year with the alcohol survey and the student forum on alcohol—and is continuing now in all sectors of the College.

Although the discussion has focused primarily on alcohol use, it touches on so many other aspects of social life. I would like to open the conversation, engaging as many of you as possible in finding workable solutions.

It is clear to me that addressing this campus issue will take the commitment, energy, and creativity of many members of our community in order to find good answers—that not only make social life more engaging here but that also foster independence and accountability among students.

My blog today includes the letter that I recently sent to the campus community about the Task Force on Alcohol and Social Life (below). I’m calling on students to step up and offer ideas and views in the comments section here, on MiddBlogand through The CampusPlease feel free also to speak with any of the task force members or to visit me during my office hours.

Let’s see how many different, thoughtful ideas we can generate. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Letter:

Dear faculty, staff, and students:

Last year we began important discussions about the relationship of alcohol to social life at Middlebury. This process began with an alcohol survey in the fall of 2010 and concluded with a well-attended student forum on alcohol in the spring of 2011. Energetic conversation on the subject was augmented by coverage in The Campus and in MiddBlog.

This year we wish to move these conversations toward constructive, realistic, and practical responses. In the process, we seek to answer these questions:

  • What role should alcohol play in the social life of our students?
  • How might we improve social events with and without alcohol?
  • What are the options for students who do not wish to drink?

As recently reported in The Campus and in MiddBlog, I have formed the Task Force on Alcohol and Social Life, composed of students, faculty, and staff to:

  • Review the quality and variety of social options on campus (as well as how social events are marketed)
  • Assess the positive and negative roles that alcohol plays in student social experience
  • Propose new or revised policies, procedures, and support structures that effectively address student, faculty, and staff concerns

I am very pleased to announce that Dean of Students Katy Smith Abbott and Coach Bob Ritter will be co-chairing the task force. Task force members include:

  • Adam Beaser, ’14
  • Priscilla Bremser, Professor of Mathematics
  • Susan DeSimone, Associate in Science Instruction, Biology
  • Dan Gaiotti, Associate Director, Public Safety
  • Carllee James, ’13
  • Matt Kimble, Associate Professor of Psychology
  • Nathan LaBarba, ’14
  • Robert LaMoy, ’12
  • Sylvia Manning, Manager, Custodial Services
  • Ellen McKay, Administrative Program Coordinator, Chaplain’s Office
  • Nial Rele, ’12
  • Becca Shaw, ’12
  • Annie Wymard, ’15

Task force members will specifically be asked to:

  • Review current national and regional data on alcohol use among college students; examine evidence-based recommendations to reduce problematic drinking; evaluate the applicability of national and regional recommendations to the Middlebury setting.
  • Review current alcohol policy and make suggestions for revised policies and enforcement.
  • Assess the College’s approach to health and wellness education, consider programs for prevention and for those struggling with addiction.
  • Develop ideas for enhancing social life, including viable options for first-year students.
  • Assess the balance between fostering independence and student responsibility while ensuring the safety of all students.
  • Investigate the relationship between excessive drinking and vandalism on campus, with an eye toward proposing workable solutions.
  • Present additional ideas and creative solutions.

This task force will be a working and action-oriented group. In addition to carrying out the above-mentioned tasks, they will be engaging members of the community (especially students) throughout the year for feedback and ideas. A final report with recommendations will be submitted to President Liebowitz and me by late April 2012.

We are committed to this effort and hope that you will be a part of the conversation and the solutions by providing feedback and ideas along the way. Feel free to reach out to Dean of Students Katy Smith Abbott, Coach Bob Ritter, or me if you have any questions or suggestions.

Sincerely,
Shirley M. Collado

Dear Readers,

I have had the honor of working together with Janet Rodrigues ’12 on the Community Council in her role as a member and now as co-chair. As my guest blogger this week, I asked her to share her views about some of the challenges students face on this campus. She has more than fulfilled this request by sharing a story about a difficult day in her life. I look forward to hearing your comments.
—Shirley M. Collado

I will not forget one of my most stressful days at Middlebury thus far (I hope I haven’t spoken too soon). I would like to share this day with you in order to get to something more important than a day in the life of little miss me.

I woke up early that day to campaign for student co-chair of Community Council, and I spent two hours riding my bike across campus chalking “Vote Janet for SCOCC” everywhere. I mean everywhere! Breathless, I arrived at class, and suddenly it began to pour.

Then, during class, the professor decided to address concerns regarding course material that some of us felt was exclusive in nature, reflecting primarily white, male worldviews. This had alienated the two students of color and others. Apparently, I had a lot to say on the topic, and by the time class was over, I realized that very few of my white colleagues sympathized or understood the alienation I described. (I think an element of unearned privilege makes it hard for some to understand or identify with my experience, and the difficulty I find bridging this gulf is frustrating for me.)

Then, I went off to a lecture on Mozambique, widely attended by aspiring Peace Corps volunteers. As I listened to the lecturer talk about my people, I wanted to explode because he was referring to us in “development jargon”—“change behavior,” make “progress,” as if we need to be “changed” by someone else. As I walked out of the talk, I screamed—in frustration over the injustice, alienation, and lack of control I felt.

Days like these—with seemingly small, subtle interactions—can chip away at us. We can become numb as a result, numb to our feelings and needs. For me, this day was filled with a series of events that I felt helpless over. It was a day in which my community deeply affected me. This was the day I realized I was living in depression and that I needed to address it.

I will not share how my depression manifested, but I would like to share what I learned about how to get through it. This day, I realized what I truly needed from my Middlebury community and from my communities beyond Middlebury. Above all, friends and community are the most important healers.

We are under constant pressure to stay in control—in control of ourselves, our friendships, our academic careers, our futures. The list goes on. How we treat the members of our community and most importantly, ourselves, can get lost along the way. Just look at the prevalence of alcohol abuse and damage to campus buildings. This behavior does not prioritize self or community.

But to put our community and ourselves at the top of the priority list takes commitment, easily forgotten when life gets overwhelming. A few weeks ago, I was asked to step in as interim president of Student Government. I was quite content with the position I already had, Community Council co-chair, and I was enjoying garnering excitement around Community Council. When I was asked to put some of my responsibilities on hold in order to address the sudden absence of a president, I was ambivalent at first. And I almost missed the point: A student realized he could not carry his load, and he did something about it; he turned to the rest of us for help.

We have all been in a position where we realize we can no longer meet others’ expectations. During these times, our friends and our community must support us. If you have not come to such crossroads yet, it will happen. There will be inevitable times when we all must ask ourselves, “Can I actually be in total control?” NO!

This is where community comes in. We may not know when someone needs us. Thus, we must always tap into the pulse of our community and pay attention to each other. We need to recognize when others are feeling alienated and help vocalize their concerns. And if someone is bearing a heavy load, then we need to recognize that and try to help. We are all trustees of each other’s happiness.

Dear Readers,

I  first met Jacob Udell at a meeting with the Religious Life Council, at the very beginning of my first year as Dean of the College. His intellectual fire, fierce leadership, and disarming honesty instantly impressed me. Subsequently, he followed up with a meeting in which we explored how to bring together students from all backgrounds and encourage them to collaborate, get to know one another, and challenge themselves. We’ve been working together and getting to know each other ever since.  I am pleased that Jacob has decided to share part of his experience with the Middlebury community as guest blogger this month, and I look forward to hearing your comments and thoughts about this compelling topic.

—Shirley M. Collado
Dean of the College

Early last year, a close friend of mine was sitting in Proctor when my name came up. “Who is he?” someone at the table asked. “Oh, you know, he’s the kid with that funny hat,” responded another. My friend, aware of the internal struggle I’d had in deciding to wear a Jewish head covering on campus and Jewish himself, indignantly snapped back, “It’s called a kippah!’ Much to his surprise, however, the funny hat being referred to was not the kippah but actually a flannel Middlebury cap that I often wear. Embarrassed, my friend apologized for his strong reaction and couldn’t wait to laugh about it with me later.

This story is on my mind as I write this blog post because it captures the importance of language in grappling with identity. I arrived on campus sophomore year as one of two students wearing a kippah because without it I felt unable to share with others the language that helped shape my worldview. I wanted peers to ask me why I wore it and for that to be an entry-point into conversations that would allow us to share our personal beliefs and ideals on our own terms. At the same time, I dreaded the possibility that my choice might exclude me from the “language” of our campus: What if I was left out of what it meant to be attractive? What if my outward religiosity implied that I was something less than a critical thinker? What if I was known on campus as “the kid with the funny hat” and then left at that?

I’m acutely aware that this particular identity-marker is unique in that I can choose when to take off my kippah or when to put on a hat instead. Yet despite the benefits of this unusual flexibility, wearing a kippah has attuned me to a tension felt by so many on our campus: on the one hand, we desire for our identity to be acknowledged and respected in its distinctiveness, and, on the other hand, we fear being marginalized by the kinds of conversations and social codes that pervade our community.

Let me explain by returning to the anecdote at the table in Proctor. Though it was nothing more than a miscommunication, I think my friend responded so passionately in my defense because the phrase “funny hat” seemed so overtly demeaning. I’m proud to have friends who speak out in response to perceived intolerance, but it seems to me that much of the normative exclusion that happens on campus is a different kind of intolerance altogether—decidedly more hidden and subtle. When we speak about going out to dinner, our spring-break plans, or the comprehensive fee, do we consider the financial backgrounds of those listening to us? When we discuss romantic pursuits, does the language we use exclude those who don’t fit into our assumptions about categories like sexual orientation, gender, or level of sexual activity? When we make plans to go to a party, how often do we overlook the students who silently struggle with the culture of alcohol or the repressed but not uncommon danger of sexual assault?

Since this post is about language, I’ll be very clear in naming what I’m talking about: privilege. The privilege conferred by class, race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion is not only manifest when someone is actively discriminated against, but also when people fail to think critically about the power of their language.

But our privilege does not have to be damaging. My decision to wear my self-selected identity on my sleeve (or rather, on top of my head) is, in every sense of the word, a privilege, and it has given me countless opportunities to share a medium that has shaped how I speak about the world. For every time I’ve been nervous about being typecast, I’ve had two or three conversations that have left me feeling validated and have given my peers the space to feel the same.

Perhaps what we as a community need is not to prepare our tolerant, liberal selves for the next time someone makes a discriminatory remark, but rather to work on cultivating an atmosphere in which our multilayered identities are out on the table, along with the privilege and the struggle that come with them. Perhaps we need to give voice to those who feel excluded in our community. And most importantly, perhaps we need to celebrate our power by shaping collective language and striving to listen to the narratives of others in the co-creation of that language.

And if anyone is interested in wearing a kippah, I have a few extras in my room… 

—Jacob Udell ’12

 

 

Housing Update

Dear Students,

This week’s Campus included an article on some revisions to the SuperBlock system. The article accurately describes the focus for this year’s SuperBlock process and how we are piloting small, theme houses at the Mods and the new selection committee that will include student participation. We want to clarify that applications will also be accepted for larger groups of students as well and that locations across campus will be considered in this process.

All submitted applications will be reviewed on the strength of the program and the availability of appropriate housing locations. As the application deadline is fast approaching, we wanted to ensure that all students had the correct information.

If you are interested in more information or in applying for a SuperBlock, please review the information on the Housing web page.  The deadline for submitting an application is Friday, February 25.

Middlebury offers a variety of housing options—singles and doubles, suites, apartments, townhouses, small blocks, large blocks, superblocks, houses, academic-interest houses, language houses, and social houses. As we move through the spring term, you will be receiving more information about the Room Draw process. If you have questions about the process or about housing in general, please use the Undergraduate Housing website . For specific inquiries, please contact your Commons office or the Residential Systems Coordinator, Karin Hall-Kolts.

We look forward to hearing your comments and ideas about the SuperBlock program and about housing options in general. To leave a comment, click on “comments” directly beneath the posting title.

We hope you have a wonderful and safe Winter Carnival weekend.

Sincerely,

Shirley Collado
Dean of the College

Doug Adams
Associate Dean of Students

Dear Students,

We are writing to solicit your feedback on one of the most important aspects of your life at Middlebury. A defining characteristic of student life at Middlebury is living as a member of a small, residential community.  This community is where you study, play, learn, and think; this community is your home.

Middlebury offers a great variety of housing options—residence-hall singles or doubles, two-room doubles, sink-mates, suites, apartments, townhouses, mods, small blocks, large blocks, superblocks, houses, academic-interest houses, language houses, and social houses.

Each year we try to improve housing offerings while balancing student requests with the needs of the College. One innovation we will adopt next year will be to offer all Room Draw housing, including regular doubles, as all gender. This option allows two students to share a double room regardless of the students’ gender. Another new offering will involve trying the SuperBlock Program in a more focused community of small, theme houses in the Mods area. We have engaged the SGA, Community Council, and a number of students on campus for their opinions and advice about these programs and housing issues in general. We would like to hear from more students, to learn more about your ideas and what is important to you.

We know that your living arrangements play an important role in your life at Middlebury.  In order to improve our systems and facilities, we are asking for your feedback. Please share what you think, your suggestions for improvements, and your ideas for new offerings by posting a comment here. (To leave a comment, click on “comments” directly beneath the post title.)

We have also created a new web form just for this purpose. It can be found on the website for Undergraduate Housing.

The best way for students to stay informed on housing processes and deadlines is to carefully read e-mails received from Residential Student Coordinator Karin Hall-Kolts and to use the Undergraduate Housing website.

Thank you for your attention. Please post your comments here and/or fill out the form on the Undergraduate Housing website.

Best,

Shirley M. Collado
Dean of the College

Douglas Adams
Associate Dean of Students

Dear Readers,

I have the honor of serving as co-chair of Community Council with Raymond Queliz. I have asked him to write this week’s post about student leadership on campus and ways in which students can shape the future of the College. As co-chair of Community Council, president of KDR, a member of Student Government, and a Posse Scholar, Ray brings a significant point of view to this topic. I look forward to hearing your comments.

—Shirley M. Collado

There are so many different ways to lead at Middlebury. There are social house presidents, treasurers, and social chairs, for example. There are the Pan Caribbean Student Organization presidents, Tavern members, Sexual Assault Oversight Committee members and Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity Advisory Board members, the Middlebury College orchestra and Juntos members, Sunday Night Group members, GlobeMed members, writers for The Campus, Residential Sustainability coordinators, residential advisers, Middlebury Open Queer Alliance members, Middlebury College Activities Board members, and College Republican members. And the list goes on, including sports-team captains, a cappella group directors, Dolci chefs, and ISO members. This is just a sampling of the variety that student representatives bring to Community Council.

While Community Council is composed of students, faculty, staff, and administrators, I believe I speak for the student voice when I say that Middlebury has changed drastically throughout the last couple of years. As I step into my position as Community Council co-chair, I often ask myself, why are all of us here at Middlebury—what brings us here?

Throughout my first 10 weeks as co-chair, my question has been answered in several ways. Overwhelmingly, students agree that diversity initiatives need to be instated, social life needs to be improved without fear of getting penalized, respect must always be maintained, and more accountability needs to be placed on the student.

My concern lies with the fact that academics have risen to a higher level of importance than maintaining a positive social life. I feel that other issues—racial diversity, gender equity, all-gender housing, environmental friendliness, social houses, awareness of Honor Codes, and parties—are of equal importance. In Community Council, we evaluate the issues we face in the community every day, and we try to improve the quality of student life on campus.

Community Council members are leaders who carry the burden of representing their respective voices. I urge all students to speak up about an issue that they are passionate about. Why silence yourself when we are available to listen as a representative body of the community as a whole? In order to better understand where we are going in terms of student life, it is essential to pose the questions: What should student life look like? What can be done to ensure that non-academic endeavors are equally as important as the classroom?

—Raymond Queliz ’11

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