MiddBlog endorses Barrett Smith ’13 for SCOCC
The Student Co-Chair of the Community Council (SCOCC) ranks as one of the most influential positions a student can have at Middlebury, as influential, many argue, as SGA President. It remains one of the only positions in which a student works with an administrator (Dean of the College Shirley Collado) as a complete equal. We could argue that it is the best platform for student voices to be heard in Old Chapel and for student-driven change within our community to be realized. The Community Council has the power to create and direct the dialogue going on in our community, which includes not only students, but also faculty, staff and other community members.
We at MiddBlog have decided to endorse Barrett Smith’13 for this position of Student Co-Chair of the Community Council. He is running against Kathryn Benson ’13, and the election is being held today through tomorrow (Tuesday) at noon (so don’t forget to go/VOTE). Take a moment to read through the letters of intent for both candidates at the SGA website.
We feel that although Benson is a very competent and experienced candidate, she lacks a strong vision of what our community could become. Smith, on the other hand, has articulated a powerful vision of a community where students play an active and committed role in their community and let their voices be heard. We believe Barret will use the platform of SCOCC to make more meaningful and fundamental change.
Yes, many of Smith’s ideas aim high and will not be realized in one year. Electing a student to the Board of Trustees, holding large student assemblies, and creating a new social honor code are all ambitious ideas. But to make our community a better place, we have to dare to imagine our community as such in order to start moving in that direction.
Benson’s ideas are all good ones: put up more murals on the sterile walls of buildings on campus, create a blog to solicit feedback from the community, improve the overall awareness across campus of Community Council, etc. But they don’t add up to anything larger than just that: a few good ideas. We trust Kathryn would do a competent job as SCOCC. But we also find it hard to imagine the status quo of a largely apathetic student body and a distant administration would change significantly.
At yesterday’s SCOCC forum, an audience member posted the question: “how would you get the town more involved in Community Council?” Benson has been advocating for this in a rather vague way throughout her campaign, but it was Smith who came up with a fresh and concrete solution. “I think if we want to engage the town, we should try getting a town member on the Council,” said Smith. These are the ideas and vision we need on the Community Council to challenge and push our administration and community.
Although Benson clearly has more experience than Smith and has proven her competency in myriad leadership roles across campus, Smith has also proven himself in less conventional ways. As an FYC last fall, he helped create one of the tightest-knit communities on campus on his floor. The feeling of community and camaraderie on Stew 4 last fall was palpable for anyone who visited. And the bad judgement that led to him losing that position did nothing to undermine everything else he did that semester for his First Years. In fact, the reason for his dismissal instigated an important discussion that lasted for weeks about what exactly our community is and who belongs to it, a discussion that will hopefully continue if he is elected as SCOCC.
Furthermore, Smith has a unique presence and charisma on campus: students from throughout the polarized social groups on campus seem to call Smith a friend and are infected by his friendliness and genuineness. Most who know him would agree he has a rare gift for connecting with and inspiring people. We think his personality will be instrumental in bringing people together and getting them involved in pushing our community forward.
Both candidates are undoubtedly great people who care deeply about our community. Both will do a great job. But we at MiddBlog want to see something bigger come out of Community Council. We want to see a new direction and a new vision for our community, a community which is often crippled by the busy schedules and individual ambitions of the talented and future-oriented students who attend here. We buy into Smith’s vision for the Middlebury community and would like to see him get a shot at realizing it.
-Lead Editors of MiddBlog
The opinions expressed here are those of Middblog and are not representative nor do they reflect those of any other organization or institution at Middlebury.