VSC BOT Meeting Creates Uproar

VERMONT- On Monday, the Vermont State Colleges (VSC) board of trustees (BOT) hosted an informational meeting regarding the financial status of the VSCS. The meeting lasted an astonishing seven hours and was watched by hundreds of concerned students, faculty, town mangers, business owners, and residents, through virtual live streaming platforms.

It was no secret that tensions were extremely high, as this informational meeting was originally planned to be a meeting to vote on the closure of the Lyndon and Johnson campuses of Northern Vermont University, and the VTC-Randolph campus.

The decision to host the vote was announced Friday, giving only three days for affected communities to react to Chancellor Jeb Spaulding's recommendation. Friday's announcements caught many off guard and set off a massive opposition movement against the recommendation of permanent closures, that consisted of thousands of people.

On Sunday, the VSC BOT announced that the vote would be postponed and that the Monday meeting would be informational in nature. The meeting started off with a presentation from Chancellor Spaulding outlining the serious challenges the VSCS is facing, stating that "This is a serious situation, it's a rare, person, family, business, nonprofit, community, state, or even country, that's not going to be spared from the harsh economic and social fallout from COVID-19."

The Chancellor also stated that because of this reality of the virus and changing demographics, he put forward a recommendation to restructure the VSC. In addition, the Chancellor apologized for having to make such a recommendation to the board. However, after the board came back from their executive session, it did not seem the apology was accepted by any of the public commentators that spoke during the meeting.

A concerned parent calling into the meeting asked Chancellor Spaulding what would happened to her daughter when NVU students have to move to Castleton (as stated in the recommendation), or what departments would get transferred over? The Chancellor did not have a direct answer, and stated that "it has not yet been discussed." Many students and alumni called in and talked about their success stories that these state colleges have provided them with. At one point, a student even offered to reject a refund for this semester if it meant saving an institution from closure.

Some public commentators were not happy with a select few trustees, and claimed they were not paying attention and dozing off during the hours long session of questions. Comments ranged from a variety of recommendations and calls for Vermont legislation to act now to increase funding, to the outright resignation of the Chancellor.

In is unclear whether the April 27th BOT meeting will consist of a vote, however, during a VPR interview on "Vermont Edition" Chairman Church Hinds mentioned that a vote on would need to take place in the next ten days, and that it would be a vote on a single recommendation. The VSC BOT also announced it will be holding an emergency meeting this evening at 7pm, and will be held via ZOOM.