Diplomatic Congress works to improve student experience for campus community

By Miguel Diaz, Contributing Writer ||

F&M’s central student government, the Diplomatic Congress (Dip Con), examines areas of student life in need of improvement each year in order to foster stronger student experience for all, in ways such as improving student connections with faculty and professional staff, and event planning.

“The year is just beginning, and already we have a lot of projects in the works,” said Mark T. Harmon-Vaught ’15, president of the Diplomatic Congress. “One really important area for us relates to student well-being. Working with President Porterfield and Dean Hazlett, we have created a new permanent committee dedicated to discussing and seeking solutions to concerns of student health, wellness, and safety.”

Harmon-Vaught is beginning his fourth year as a member of The Diplomatic Congress, including time served as Sophomore Class President and Freshman Class President. He has established a vision for growth he would like to see take place on campus in the coming months.

Areas of improvement include the possibility of turning F&M into a smoke-free campus — one of the first issues DipCon plans to address — along with the revision of its Constitution, redefining its role on campus, reshaping its relationship with college houses and other on-campus groups, and reviewing the way the College funds student organizations.

“Of course, we could not achieve these goals without the dedicated support of our awesome members, and, in particular, my core team, the Congress Officers Scott Onigman ‘15, Bryce Loebel ‘15, and Nicole Strauss ’15,” Harmon-Vaught said.

In his final year as a student and on DipCon, Harmon-Vaught has a vision he hopes to enact on campus before graduating.

“More than anything else, I want F&M to be a community that fosters mindfulness, intellectual curiosity, and acceptance: A community in which we celebrate diversity and difference, seek to learn and understand more, and engage actively in the community in the ‘third spaces’ that bridge our academic and social lives,” he said. “If I can come back for Homecoming or a reunion in five years and see the community flourishing even in a small way because of the efforts my peers and I have made, that will be a legacy worth leaving.”

According to Harmon-Vaught, over the course of the next year, students at F&M can expect to see the substantial growth and addition of new student-leaders on campus. DipCon hopes to play an important role in these developments, as it is one of the organizations that helps bring student leaders together each and every year.

“I have seen four years of student leaders on Diplomatic Congress,” Harmon-Vaught said. “This year’s Congress is the most thoughtful, diverse, and engaged group of students I have ever worked with.”

First-year Miguel Diaz is a contributing writer. His email is mdiaz@fandm.edu.

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