Students, faculty call upon lawmakers to keep college campuses open

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In a stunning move… this pandemic could also claim three State College campuses in Vermont. While the recommendation is about cutting costs … some students and professors think more should be done, they want lawmakers to act.

What Chancellor Jeb Spaulding describes as a tough decision, is upsetting communities throughout Vermont. Spaulding made recommendations to the Board of Trustees, that would close three college campuses in the state. Vermont Technical College in Randolph, and both campuses of the newly unified Northern Vermont University.

“As painful as it is, we felt it was a decision that really needed to be made. When I say we, I mean my advisers and talking with presidents and so forth. But ultimately it will be the board of trustees that makes the decision,” says Spaulding.

State Senators discussed the issue Friday on a conference call… they say the financial affects for the area could be challenging.

Caledonia district Senator, Joe Benning, says “Lyndon remains one of the places where you can get a decent paying job, it’s providing all kinds of cultural events for this community, it’s a wide available space for recreational and community meetings..”

Senator Rich Westman of Lamoille County, argues “this is a decision that is goes far beyond the state colleges, and we’re all going to feel the repercussions of it and this is going to stretch from Orange County to the Canadian Border.”

Some NVU faculty, including one Professor I spoke with, said this was an irresponsible decision with much greater impacts. “Its completely insane from my point of view, from an economic or financial perspective to close these down. I think that entire rationale is completely unjustified,” says Dr. Ben Luce.

And while the chancellor blames this on the pandemic, NVU Sophomore and Financial Controller for the Student Government Association on the Lyndon campus, Patrick Wickstrom, says this is something that could have been solved with more support from state officials. He’s created a petition hoping to gain attention from lawmakers.

Wickstrom says, “with this petition, what I’m hoping is to kind of put the spotlight on the state legislature and the governors office, and say hey, you guys need to do your due diligence here and help protect these vulnerable communities and these campuses. Because northern Vermont university is one of the largest employers in northern Vermont.”

The board of trustees is expected to vote on the future of the VSC system on Monday afternoon.

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