Say Something


This is an opinion piece regarding the closing of Southern Vermont College


I haven’t really voiced my opinion too much since we received news about the school shutting down. I’ve vaguely joined in on conversations or thrown a “yeah it really does suck” in there every now and then but I’ve never explained what really bothers me about this whole situation. I’m a realist. I understand that there are some things in life that can’t be controlled or avoided. I’m not sure if our school shutting down would fall under either of those categories, but that is far from my issue with our current circumstances. My problem is with the timeline of events, how things unfolded and the way it was all presented to us.

I transferred into SVC at the beginning of the 2017 fall semester. Truthfully speaking, my biggest reason for coming was to join such a prestigious basketball program. I set my goals on helping this program win another championship and thankfully we were able to accomplish such a feat last year. With that being said, somewhere along the way, I found myself becoming very proud to call myself a Mountaineer. I didn’t even know what a Mountaineer was! This campus and community embraced an older student traveling all the way from Maryland and this place began to feel like a second home. Last year, I had heard rumblings from my teammates and a couple other students about how the school may shut down in a couple years or may be put on probation. I was a new kid, I knew nothing about the events that took place in 2013 with the CFO or with the nursing program. It was never mentioned through the recruitment process, it was never mentioned through the admissions process… it was simply never mentioned. When I say mentioned, it was never even raised as a concern from the people in power. Fast forward to this year and it seems as though it all happened within a few months. One day we hear there’s some big meeting and then a week or so later we receive the news. I don’t believe there were any ill intentions, but I do believe that we were purposefully left in the dark.

I keep mentioning “we” and “us” but when I make these references, it doesn’t apply to just us students. Yes, its horrible for students. Learning of your school’s closure two months before the school year ends doesn’t leave you a lot of time to start making plans for your future. Each student is different. Students come here from all over the country; Maryland, Virginia, Florida, California, Texas, Pennsylvania and various other places. As a freshman, you’d made friends and teammates you thought you’d be with for the next four years. As a sophomore, you’ve become comfortable and established and have to take that same amount of time to re-establish yourself somewhere else. For juniors and even some seniors, its especially hard thinking you’d have the luxury of walking the stage here or graduate with your friends then learning you have to go and spend a year at an institution you have no emotional connection to. Seniors that are graduating, have no school to come back to and visit. No school to tell their children about and no place to come back and reunite with old faculty and staff. So yes, it’s especially hard for students but the majority of us will quickly recover and continue with our lives.

The aforementioned “us” also includes our teachers and the staff, whom many of us have grown especially close to. It’s unfair to them. Some of the situations that these people have been put in have brought me to tears. Starting with the fact that teaching positions are applied for and filled prior to the fall semester of academic school years. Our teachers can only wait to apply for a teaching position in 2020 hoping they get the job for 2021. Two years is how long they must go without a job as they’re used to in order to pay their bills and feed their families. So how hard does this hit those who have two members of the same household that have dedicated so much of their time and work here? For example, the Noseks. We could also consider someone like Lynda Sinkiewich. She’s devoted so much of her own time here, that her son grew up with the belief that he would one day get to walk this campus as a Mountaineer. So not only is she left without a job, but now she’s got to tell her son that SVC is no longer a viable option for him. I also consider the coaching staff and the things many of them have sacrificed to be here. Coach Brian Johnson of the men’s basketball team uprooted his entire life to take the position here at SVC. His wife, choosing to support him, left her job back in Maryland as well. Together they came with the thought that they would begin a new chapter in their life. They are expecting the birth of the their first child in a couple months and now their world has been turned around completely. I also think of the staff, that work in the cafe and are now being laid off because they don’t have any other place they can be reassigned.

A lot of people are affected, not just the people in power or the people that give and take money. I also understand that this situation was caused by the perfect storm of declining enrollment, debt, and a decrease in the northeastern demographic. I won’t say that there’s one person to blame or that any one person should have stood up and said something. I will say that someone must have known something before this point and that actions should have followed. Why continue to hire people? Why promise a brand new student center? Why get brand new computers for the lab? A lot of questions could be asked but here’s the biggest one for me: Why not say something?