Talk:Marlboro College, VT Community Government

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What Town Meeting is:
Town Meeting is the one governing body at the college that includes everyone in the community, and has jurisdiction and authority so wide. The decisions, recommendations and suggestions made at Town Meeting carry much weight with other decision-making bodies at the college, including the Faculty, the Administration and the Trustees. Town Meeting is a form of democratic education for citizenship, and it realizes and fosters the independent thinking and learning expected of Marlboro students and other community members. It is a strong illustration of "the self-governing community" mentioned in the Mission Statement.

What Town Meeting can do:
Much of the following was written by Timothy F. Little, Town Meeting Moderator for Fall 2000 and long time community member. For the full text of what I abbreviate here, please see the Community Constitution and Marlboro College By-Laws, the two community documents adopted by Town Meeting for it to follow.

I. Allocation of Powers
The powers of the Town Meeting are granted by the Trustees of Marlboro College through the President and the faculty jointly. This implies that the Faculty Meeting is the controlling agent for changes in the allocation of powers, answerable to the Trustee Meeting.

II. Membership
The Community Constitution defines members of the meeting as being "students, faculty, staff and their spouses, and trustees when present. The moderator may extend to visiting associates and alumni full privileges while they are at Marlboro College." (Marlboro College Handbook 1999/200, p. 62)

III. Areas of Authority

Financial
1. Setting the Community Activity Fee

2. Disposition of the finds collected for the Town Meeting from the Community Activity Fees. This power includes the authority to establish, find and distribute Town Meeting Scholarships.

3. Disposition of funds in the Washer/Dryer account.

Legislative

1. Town Meeting may legislate concerning recreational facilities and recreation and in all areas of social activities (non-academic activities) on campus.

2. Town Meeting is empowered to formulate and enforce regulations in matters of conduct and safety for the care of property within the precincts of the college. It is this power which authorizes the Community Court. Most bylaws fall under this power.

3. Town Meeting can review faculty decisions on academic policy and vote by simple majority to overturn those decisions. A faculty vote or two-thirds of the members present of the next meeting can reinstate the previous measure.

4. Town Meeting may organize and maintain work projects of a profit-making nature that will not conflict with the overall program of Marlboro College and to elect representatives to assist in formulating policies relating to the operation of a college work program.

Representative and Advisory

1. Town Meeting may make recommendations to both administration and faculty in all areas.

2. Town Meeting shall have representatives on each policy-shaping committee of the faculty.

3. The Select Board in general and the head Selectperson in particular are recognized as being in special positions of leadership and having a particular responsibility for the well-being of the college community.

4. The bylaws include legislation in a variety of areas by Town Meeting which bind all members of the community. Thus there are regulations concerning fire and safety. Regulations involving non-academic aspects of life at Marlboro College include library regulations, rooming policy, guest policy, smoking regulations and drugs and alcohol policies.

How Town Meeting Works:
The Marlboro College community meets every three weeks or so in Town Meeting in order to decide, recommend or discuss policies and issues of the entire college. The meeting is organized by the generally-elected board of Selectpeople (serving a one-year term), and is presided over by the Moderator (a one-semester position). The form of the meeting generally follows this outline:

  • For the Good of the Order (a place for committee reports, administrative reports, and very important announcements and small discussions)
  • Old Business (a time to discuss the business brought up at a previous meeting)
  • New Business (a time to entertain any new business such as requests for funding, or to take action on any of the reports given in For the Good of the Order)
  • Town Forum (a community-wide discussion on any issue, usually decided by the Selectpeople at the request of community members. This is not a part of the deliberative meeting, and no action can be taken in Town Forum, although it is typical and often useful for some one or group to take a sense of the meeting in a non-binding vote. Often a formal or informal group committed to the topic will organize the town forum in order to get the most out of the assembly. Town Forum is sometimes the best way to get a clear sense of how most of the community feels about a certain issue.)

This is but a sampling. See http://www.marlboro.edu/community/government/town_meeting/guide/ for more.

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