To the Hamilton Community,
I think it’s safe to say that we have had a bit of a rough start to our semester. In the few weeks we have been on campus, students have dealt with a full transition back to on-campus learning, first year students started their college careers with insufficient dining halls, student admission workers came forward about their subpar working conditions, and a bill further restricting pregnant people’s right to receive an abortion was passed in Texas.
For what it’s worth, I think that we have shown ourselves to be up for the challenge that these issues have presented. Since moving in, I have watched (and participated in) numerous warm reunions of friends and classmates who had been separated in the last year due to remote learning. Later, I saw an incredible number of students show up to the Club Fair, primarily first years but also upperclassmen, ready to jump head first into our community.
When it comes to our dining, which appears to be largely due to an understaffed Bon Appetit, students have spoken up about their struggling to eat regularly and healthily. Beyond just making comments about our frustrations amongst ourselves, several students made their voices heard at August 30th’s Student Assembly meeting, where every public comment was about dining and members of the Assembly shared their concerns as well. By anonymous voting it was revealed that 23 out of 30 participating meeting attendees have skipped at least one meal due to the long lines.
This is to say, Hamilton students do not see our ability to live healthy lives on the Hill as individual issues that can be solved by going to the dining halls at “off-peak hours,” but rather something that the college needs to take serious action on immediately.
What I am delighted to tell you is that this seems, at least for the time being, to have worked. Only a few days after the Student Assembly meeting, Hamilton and Bon Appetit announced increased hours at the dining halls, a promise to hire more staff and an open call for students to apply themselves, a stimulus payment of sorts going to every student after Fojo Beans opens, and more.
I hope that Hamilton students take this as a sign to never suffer in silence again, whether from insufficient dining, mental health, or unfair treatment in the workplace. Even if many students were not personally impacted by the incredibly slow dining hall lines due to an ability to regularly eat off-campus that many—such as first year students who do not have cars or low income students who simply cannot afford to—do not have, no student should go hungry while attending Hamilton, full stop. This is a sign that we as students know that we all deserve better and can achieve it.
This attitude will also hopefully become the norm on campus, as our student admissions workers—the tour guides that introduced us to Hamilton and the senior admissions fellows who interviewed us, who all in their own way contributed to our decision to join this community—have filed to start a union. As union organizer Eric Cortes-Kopp ‘22 said in a press release to the Monitor, “Hamilton wants its students to think critically, so that's what we’re doing.” If the student admission workers successfully vote to unionize this month, they will create a union that is the first of its kind for undergraduates.
Creating a Hamilton that works for all of its students is a long and arduous process, especially when it means being a historical first. Nowadays, standing up for any kind of change can feel hopeless when the very idea of bodily autonomy is under threat in Texas and likely many more states to come, but I can guarantee you that it will be worth it.
Hamilton, I can personally say that standing up for yourself against an unfathomably wealthy institution is, to say the least, scary. In so many words, I have been called a liar for coming forward about a Board of Trustees meeting location being changed when we planned to rally outside their windows for, among other things, increased transparency.
Despite the accusation—despite the threat of not being able to control my own body—despite frustrations with the college that I wanted nothing more than to attend, I still have my voice. As the Editor-in-Chief of the Monitor, I am excited to continue to use it and I am honored to welcome you to use yours on our pages.
The Monitor is Hamilton’s critical social justice paper. Historically, we have been a hub for students to share their analyses on Hamilton, local, national, and global issues ranging from mental health on campus, racial justice, Covid-19 vaccine distribution, and more. This semester, our editorial team plans on expanding our efforts to include thoughtful, well-researched journalism. We hope that you will use this space as a place to ask questions and get the answers that you deserve.
In short, though we have no allegiance, our responsibility as the Monitor is to the students and workers of Hamilton. This will not change.
I welcome each and every one of you to submit an opinion article, news pitch, or media advisory to us so that we can make this promise a reality.
I can’t wait to hear from (and read) you soon.
Trusting in our collective voices,
Madison Lazenby ‘23
Editor-in-Chief of the Monitor