Each year around this time, the Campus turns its focus to the upcoming Student Government Association presidential election. Unlike last year, there will be competition for the position and a field of strong, well-rounded candidates has emerged. Each one has come to the Campus office to present their platform and to take questions from our editorial board. Though each candidate brings much to the table, there is one who stands out above the rest: Allison Aiello.
A newcomer to the SGA but a veteran leader, Aiello boasts an impressive resume. In 2011, Allison co-founded International Energy Alliance, a non-profit organization that works with high schools in the U.S. and China to raise climate awareness. Over the past three years, she has organized conferences in China and has begun the process to team up with similar-minded organizations here at the College.
Her position with the IEA, her role as Vice President of Friends of the John Graham Shelter in town and her work in the mail center have all demanded much of her extracurricular attention during her time as a Middlebury student. Though these experiences all took place outside of the Crest Room, we believe that the analogous leadership, teamwork and management skills she has fostered on her way to the ballot make her more than qualified for the job of SGA President.
Although Aiello has not participated in Middlebury’s SGA thus far, it is important to note that she is not entirely out of the SGA’s loop. She has attended a number of meetings in person and read the minutes for every meeting this year in preparation for this election. Nevertheless, some may point to her dearth of experience in the Senate as a drawback. We, however, see it as an advantage. Aiello brings a fresh perspective and an undeniable enthusiasm to shake up the SGA.
Shaking up the SGA is sorely needed at the present moment. Nearly all of the candidates who visited the newsroom expressed their disappointment in the lack of leadership and results this year. The editorial board could not agree more. In the view of many students, this year’s SGA has accomplished less than any student administration in recent memory. Previous years have seen the creation of MiddCourses, progress on internships for credit, the launch of the We the Middkids petition site, the implementation of a Pass/D/Fail option, and the funding of orientation trips for first-years. This year? A Proctor printer is what most students would point to as the biggest accomplishment.
In light of this and a slew of uncontested races (including SGA President and Student Co-Chair of Community Council) last spring, the SGA is quickly becoming a running joke on campus. It makes sense, therefore, why several candidates have positioned themselves as “SGA outsiders” to combat the image that they will be a continuation of an SGA on cruise control.
In a time where the majority of students feel that their representatives are not living up to their title or are otherwise inaccessible, one of the things that impressed us most about Aiello’s vision for next year is her strategy for student outreach. Although this week saw the first SGA Coffee Hour, the effort is too little, too late. In a refreshing change, Aiello wants the student government to take an active interest in its various constituencies – going to club meetings, holding more frequent and flexible office hours and increasing visibility in places like the dining halls, sports games and large school events. In effect, she means to bring SGA to the students rather than making the students come to the Crest Room.
Another plus in her platform is a student-developed website, Midd Connect. Aiming to increase convenience when shopping for course textbooks and when coordinating ride-shares to major cities, Aiello’s website will help students conserve two of their most precious resources: time and money.
Furthermore, Aiello takes compassionate stances on some of the most difficult issues at the College today: sexual assault and mental health. She, like the other candidates, is aware of the present dissatisfaction with on-campus resources for these problems and has plans to bring about positive change for each one.
Here, however, the Campus would like to note that although we are endorsing Allison Aiello, it is imperative that whoever wins the race shall increase resources to survivors of sexual assault and those suffering from mental or emotional stress. That being said, we have faith in Aiello's abilities to tackle these issues; in particular, her willingness to work with others seems to be one of her strongest assets as a leader.
When looking for partners to accomplish goals that matter the most to our community, Aiello's running mates might just be the best place to start. Including Ilana Gratch and Josh Berlowitz would be a great way to bring their knowledge of the inner workings of the SGA to her team. The board believes both of these candidates to be outstanding individuals who would do well as SGA President. Nevertheless, change starts at the top and Aiello's go-getter attitude and new approaches are the best bet for revitalizing the SGA. At the same time, she can also rely on the experience of reelected Senators to fill in any gaps in her knowledge.
Each year around this time, the Campus turns its focus to the upcoming Student Government Association presidential election. Unlike last year, there w...