THEVERMONTCYNIC THE Issue 14 - Volume 136 | December 3, 2019 | vtcynic.com
A CAMPUS DIVIDED Funds for trip to Israel and Palestine territories continue to cause tension among students Story on page 6-7
Illustration by KATE VANNI
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Posted on a cluttered Davis Center board, a poster with the image of a hand maneuvering a puppet has a message in white text with a red background strewn across its top. “Don’t be their puppet,” lays across the top, written in all capital letters , waiting for wandering student eyes. This poster and others like it are the latest campaign from student activists in the Coalition for Student and Faculty Rights in an attempt to raise awareness against what they see as the UVM administration sacrificing academics, especially in the liberal arts. The posters were created by seniors Seth Wade and Chris Gish, both members of the coalition. “I’m so tired of the administrators just sucking up more and more power, and everyone kind of takes it,” Wade said. “The situation seemed really dire, and I just wanted it to get out there.” But UVM administrators say the picture is more complicated than that. The Cynic broke down the posters point by point. Here’s what we found:
FACT CHECK: IS UVM CUTTING CLASSES? “Dr. Garimella directed the removal of students and faculty from the IBB steering committee,” and “Once again, students and professors are being excluded from making vital decisions about our University.” UVM’s Incentive Based Budgeting model, first implemented in 2016, is a model that distributes University finances across the different colleges based on student enrollment in those colleges, according to UVM’s Division of Finance webpage. President Suresh Garimella did remove students and faculty from the IBB committee, not as an effort to take away power, but to put power in the hands of those actually making financial decisions, said Bill Falls, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “The Steering Committee is being disbanded, effective immediately, and is being replaced with a new IBB Advisory Committee comprised of the responsibility center deans and chaired by [Provost] Patty Prelock and [University Treasurer] Richard Cate,” Falls stated in an Aug. 28 email to CAS faculty. While students and faculty are no longer a part of managing IBB, this was not in order to take away power from non-administrators, Falls said in a Nov. 13 interview.
“The folks who have to make the financial decisions for the University should be the ones that advise the president on the model’s content,” Falls said. “It wasn’t really an attempt to wrestle power from anybody.” Students can always have more voice, said sophomore Sam Pasqualoni, SGA senator and president of the CAS dean’s student advisory committee. “I think there are always more steps that could be occurring to have students voices heard,” he said. “More accessibility to administrators is always the best way when trying to make a more inclusive and diverse community.” To the administration, student voice is extremely important, and a lot of effort goes into communicating with students, Cate said. “We have to pay very close attention to what the students want if we want to educate them,” he said. However, due to the sheer number of enrolled students, listening to students is not an easy task, Cate said. “The students speak with 10,000 different voices, so you may get 20 people that put up posters, but what do the other students think about this matter?” he said. “We don’t really know because that’s not how it goes.”
“Also over the summer, department chairs were told to expect even further cuts that will lay off or reduce faculty to part time, just as happened during the previous two academic years... More cuts are coming.” Wade said Garimella may be making cuts to the liberal arts because UVM wants to become more focused on science, technology and mathematics. “It’s almost like they don’t want UVM to do liberal arts anymore,” Wade said. Garimella and other senior administrators don’t have the power to make department cuts, only college deans, Falls said. “All of the decision making for any redistribution of resources for the college, or for hiring, are done by the dean,” he said. “It’s not possible that the president would require cuts to the liberal arts.” Cuts to CAS have been made not because the liberal arts aren’t valued, but because there are fewer students applying to CAS overall, Cate said. “We used to have over 5,400 students in CAS, and now we’re closer to 4,600,” he said. “It’s always about what the students are picking. That’s how we decide how the money flows.” However, cuts to CAS have made it difficult for programs to reach their full potential, said John Franklin, professor and chair of the classics department. “There’s been a policy of not replacing retirees, so you can have departments where important subiects are not taught,” he said. “In the classics department, we don’t have an ancient historian to teach Greek and Roman history anymore.”
“The average salary of upper administrators has gone up 35% after inflation in the last decade.” After calculating the increases in base pay of the most well-paid administrators using data from the 2018-2019 UVM List of Base Pay and comparing the results to the inflation rate over the last decade, administrative salaries have gone up 35%, Gish said. However, that number is incorrect, Cate said. “First of all, they’re all together in a ten-year period, so even if that were true, it’s about 3% a year, which is not unusual,” Cate said. “For administration, it’s been a 24% increase over the last ten years. The faculty salaries went up 30% over the same period.”
Illustration by KATE VANNI
Snow falling and 30-degree temperatures on a brisk Wednesday morning didn’t stop 17 UVM students from jumping into Lake Champlain. This occurrence, which happens two to three times each week, was started by two international students studying abroad at UVM. Alexander Asplund is from Sweden and Emil Piesold is from the U.K. These students are joined by friends they met at UVM. The tradition began for Asplund back home in Sweden and was something that he and Piesold quickly connected over at the beginning of this semester, Asplund said. At 7 a.m. on this particular chilly Wednesday, Nov. 20, some members ran in and out of the water, shouting from the cold, while others stayed in peacefully for minutes, mediating. Piesold, who was one of the members who stayed in the lake the longest, sat calmly in the water. “I go into it partially as a mindfulness practice because I want to work on my mental health and my focus, attention and presence,” Piesold said. “I have found this to be a really good way of doing it because it naturally draws you the present. It forces you to focus.” Asplund utilizes his time in the water to take a moment to think. He focuses on how his body is reacting, especially to the cold, he said. “I try to focus on the cold and how my body tries to keep me warm and alive in that sense,”
Despite six years passing since UVM banned the sale of bottled water, the ban’s origin and impact remains controversial. The ban, intended as an act of investment into local water, may have caused students to drink more sugary beverages and buy more plastic, single-use containers, according to the UVM Office of Sustainability website. Gioia Thompson, director of dustainability at UVM Dining, said that the original intention of the ban was different than what people might believe today. “People like to say that it was about banning the sale of water bottles,” Thompson said. “That is not what happened. It was about banning the sale of water.” A student research study, funded by the Office of Sustainability and in coordination with the Post-Landfill Action
IS W E E K
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A NEW BRANCH ON THE HORIZON
Zoe Stern/The Vermont Cynic
Students stand in the water of Lake Champlain at 7 a.m., Nov. 20. The students run into the 22-degree water as part of regular outings started by two international students studying abroad at UVM. Asplund said. “I think it’s a cool feeling to feel how your body is really pushing itself to make blood pump through your veins, to really keep you warm.” These trips to the lake, which began earlier in the semester, take place throughout the week, often at 7 a.m., so students can attend before classes start, Asplund said. As the colder weather approaches, the group hopes to continue, though there may be complications, Piesold said. “The main concern is that when it gets frozen over we would struggle to make a hole, but we will have to see how it goes with that,” Piesold said. “We plan to go consistently the whole year. It seems to be making people happy, and I don’t want to stop that.”
Carissa Finnerty, a first-year who participated Nov. 20 for the first time, said her initial reaction to the cold water was that it was hard to breathe, but it quickly turned to exhilaration, she said. Finnerty found out about this after meeting Asplund through the Outing Club, she said. She used the opportunity to get outside and to destress. “As a Girl Scout, I used to do the polar plunge at camp, and I remember the feeling of waking up early and going in the cold water, and it felt amazing,” Finnerty said. Taking time to do this is something important, Asplund said. “Every morning we do this is an awesome day,” Asplund said. “It’s really the best start to my
day.” On top of jumping in Lake Champlain, the crew often bikes down from campus to North Beach, Asplund said, though in this cold more of the crew opted to drive down. Piesold encourages anyone who wants to try this to join them. “If you want to come, it’s super inclusive,” he said. “Anyone is welcome. There is no pressure.” Around Nov. 20, the temperture of Lake Champlain was about 44 degrees, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. By Dec. 1 the temperature dropped to below 42.5 degrees and will continue to drop further, making for even colder morning dips.
Network, intends to evaluate how to reduce waste on campus through infrastructural, behavioral and subsistence changes. The study will be published in January 2020 if not sooner, Thompson said. Professor Emeritus Rachel Johnson of the nutrition department worked with an Honors College student in 2015 to research trends in beverage sales following the ban for an Honors College thesis. “[In 2015], you couldn’t even get a cup of water at the Davis Center,” Johnson said. “You had to buy a sugary drink.” The research, published in the American Journal of Public Health, showed that the consumption of sugary beverages increased on campus. In addition to an increase in sugary beverages, the 2015 Honors College thesis further found no decrease in the number of single-use containers used following the ban. “Soft drinks require twice as much plastic as single-use water bottles and energy drinks four
ZOE COLGAN SELLERS/The Vermont Cynic
Different beverages for sale in plastic bottles sit in coolers in Redstone Marketplace, Nov. 20. A University-wide ban was enacted in 2013 to ban the sale of plastic water bottles. times as much,” Johnson said. “Why ban the healthy choice?” Vermont Students for Environmental Protection originally sponsored the bill, and UVM became the first public university to ban the sale of bottled water. Junior and VSTEP President Caroline Gilman said that there is a discussion of starting a petition to move toward zero-waste as early as next semester.
SGA’s Constitution Committee will explore how to add a judicial branch to handle internal SGA conflicts. Senior Zach Merson, speaker of the senate and chair of the Constitution Committee, brought the idea of the addition to the entire SGA Nov. 19. Merson said currently there are only two options to handle SGA disputes and disagreements, censure or impeachment. “I’m concerned about the precedent we set for ourselves and our actions now impact future senates,” Merson said. “I hope it as clear to all of you as it is to me that we need to change how we approach conflicts and disputes in SGA.” Merson said he believes SGA needs to move towards measures, like a judicial branch, to better fit SGA’s way of operating. This new branch would be structured similarly to the Constitution Committee with a member from each committee, he said. This new branch would allow senators on the committee to intervene more directly when conflicts and issues arise inside SGA, Merson said. “We need to set the example that when we face conflict, we handle it with grace and ensure dignity and privacy for those involved as much as possible,” he said.
SENATOR GETS NEW CITY ROLE
Plastic water bottle ban remains sore spot Maryann Makosiej
PPENIN HA est. 2019 G
Icy waters don’t stop students
THIS WEEK IN SGA
“The ban was a great first step, but it definitely isn’t enough for the environment,” Gilman said. VSTEP, in coordination with Eco-Reps and other environmental clubs and organizations on campus, work to limit and eventually ban the use of single-use containers and bottles on campus, Gilman said.
An SGA senator will now represent both UVM students and other Burlingtontonians as a member of the Ward 8 Steering Committee. Sophomore Hannah King, senator on the Committee on Legislative and Community Affairs, was the second elected member from Ward 8 Nov. 13. “Each ward has their own Neighborhood Planning Assembly,” King said. “It’s a neighborhood meeting every [second] Wednesday of the month where you can come out for a few hours and the steering committee makes the agenda.” Ward 1 and Ward 8 have their NPA meetings together, creating important discussions, King said. The steering committees from Ward 1 and Ward 8 meet together. Burlington’s Ward 8 consists mostly of UVM’s students who live on Redstone campus, Athletic campus and off campus. Half of UVM’s campus is in Ward 8, while Central campus is in Ward 1. King hopes that joining will allow for a greater dialogue between permanent residents and students.
Activists should abide by truth
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1 Issue 4 - Vol. 6
EXECUTIVE Editor-in-Chief Bridget Higdon email@example.com Managing Editor Alek Fleury firstname.lastname@example.org
OPERATIONS Operations Manager Tim Mealey email@example.com Marketing Daniel Felde firstname.lastname@example.org Distribution Manager Dariel Echanis
EDITORS Copy Chief Liv Marshall email@example.com Culture Sarah Robinson firstname.lastname@example.org Features Greta Rohrer email@example.com News / Sports Sawyer Loftus firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Opinion Mills Sparkman firstname.lastname@example.org
Staff Editorial Over this past month, posters have been strewn on tables and tacked to bulletin boards across campus. “DON’T BE THEIR PUPPET,” they read, in white lettering. In the background of the poster, an ominous and dark illustration of a gray hand with red strings tied to each ﬁnger holds up a wooden puppet. The posters, created by activists in UVM’s Coalition for Student and Faculty Rights, list a variety of claims relating to academic departments and their funding. “More cuts are coming,” the poster states. “Students struggling to complete their major or minor requirements, particularly in the liberal arts, will face further difﬁculty.” These posters are fear mongering and, as laid out in our article on page 2, many pieces are factually incorrect, including who the message is addressed to. The posters have raised questions about the role of activists, their relationship with the press and their relationship with the audience they intend to reach. It is easy to trust activists at their word. We take their shouts and chants and posters as fact, believing that they must be sharing the truth. But in order to be rational citizens, it is essential to fact check both sides of the argument equally. Skepticism
Illustrations Noah Zhou email@example.com Layout Kate Vanni firstname.lastname@example.org “Design Mama” Kyra Chevalier Photo Stephan Toljan email@example.com Assistant Editors Henry Mitchell (Opinion), Kate Vanni and Meilena Sanchez (Layout), Dalton Doyle (Copy), Allie O’Connor (Culture), Emma Pinezich (News), Bailey Samber (Photo) Copy Editors Will Keeton, Zoey Webb Page Designers Stephanie Hodel
ADVISING Faculty Adviser Chris Evans firstname.lastname@example.org
is essential to constructing our own accurate beliefs and opinions. In order for calls for change to be taken seriously, they must be accurate and directed toward the individuals who can actually make a difference. Instead of instantly directing our displeasure for certain policies towards the ﬁgureheads of the University, we as students have an
obligation to ﬁnd out who is directly responsible for that policy. That is how change happens. The president is not directly responsible for everything going on at this University. The most effective way to get your voice heard is to go directly to the source. One of the most effective movements this year has been the activism for divestment. Members of the movement have been successful because
Staff editorials ofﬁcially reﬂect the views of the editorial board, which includes the Editor-in-Chief, Managing Editor and Opinion Editor. Signed opinion pieces and columns do not necessarily do so. The Cynic accepts letters in response to anything you see printed as well as any issues of interest in the community. Please limit letters to 350 words. The Cynic reserves the right to edit letters for length and grammar. Please send letters to opinion@ vtcynic.com.
BPD officers must strive for de-escalation
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the activists identiﬁed people who can address their cause, such as University Treasurer Richard Cate and certain members on the board of trustees. They have also deeply researched the facts of the issue. As a result, the divestment movement has been one of the most inﬂuential voices on campus this semester. Last year, when NoNames For Justice took over Waterman building, they called for meetings with various people responsible for their demands, including the president. The most successful activist movements are the ones that are speciﬁc and factually sound. False information spreads unnecessary and destructive rumors that distract from activists’ real sentiments and calls for change. We should never be anyone’s puppet. Not the administration’s, not our peers’. Before following in the footsteps of others, do your own research and formulate your own beliefs.
Meg Trogolo email@example.com
n Nov. 8, Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan made an announcement that proved Vermont law enforcement cares more about loyalty to each other than keeping Vermonters safe. Donovan said in a press conference that he would not continue to investigate Burlington police ofﬁcer Cory Campbell’s involvement in the death of Douglas Kilburn, according to a Nov. 8 VTDigger article. On March 11, Campbell punched Kilburn multiple times outside UVM Medical Center. Three days later, Kilburn died from the head injuries he sustained during the incident, according to a Nov. 11 Cynic article. Campbell’s body camera footage, released by Burlington Police Department, shows Campbell directing Kilburn to a hospital room in the medical center where Kilburn’s wife was being treated. Campbell told Kilburn to
“shut the fuck up and leave,” and Kilburn got out of the car and hit Campbell. Campbell punched Kilburn back multiple times, leaving him motionless on the ground, according to the footage. Three days later, Kilburn was dead. Campbell was placed on administrative leave shortly after the incident, but he returned to full duty immediately after Donovan dropped the investigation. Burlington police ofﬁcers
have been trained to de-escalate conﬂicts, according to a September 2016 Burlington Free Press article. They also use body cameras to record all police incidents, according to a February 2018 department policy statement. These measures are intended to teach peaceful interaction and remind ofﬁcers that their actions will be recorded. However, Campbell was still able to turn a verbal argument into a physical ﬁght without
facing serious consequences. Instead of ﬁring Campbell or adding further de-escalation training, the attorney general essentially approved Campbell’s use of violence. In the short term, careful review of body camera footage and further training for ofﬁcers on highly emotional situations might help prevent more incidents like Kilburn’s death. In the long term, policy changes must accompany a deeper cultural change in Vermont’s law enforcement agencies. The Burlington Police Department should go beyond reviewing body camera footage and holding trainings on mental illness. They should look for ofﬁcers from different backgrounds to understand the complexity of Burlington and its people. Police ofﬁcers and the justice system need to stop looking inward and start looking outward, towards the people they promise to protect and to serve. Meg Trogolo is a sophomore political science major. She has been writing for the Cynic since fall 2019.
CYNIC OPINIONS ON:
THANKSGIVING FOOD Not ready to go back to the dining hall? Relive Turkey Day with food for thought on typical and not-so-typical Thanksgiving dishes.
Emily Johnston: The thought of pumpkin pie immediately brings me back to my youth and spending the day before Thanksgiving watching my mom carefully pour the delicious mixture into a pan. Now as an adult, the taste reminds me of that sweet tradition of my childhood. Each year, life may be uncertain, but pumpkin pie remains constant. That is why pumpkin pie is the best Thanksgiving food; it is consistently amazing.
Gabby Felitto: One of my favorite Thanksgiving foods that my mama makes every year is flan, which is a popular Latin American dessert. Flan is an egg custard with caramel on the bottom. It’s so sweet and creamy and never fails to bring us all together. It’s definitely one of the best parts of my family’s Thanksgiving meal.
Lucy Gilbert: I chose to be a vegetarian at a very young age, mainly because I was picky and didn’t want to eat meat. However, the rest of my family were meat-eaters who understandably didn’t want to cater to a vegetarian Thanksgiving meal. I never have the traditional Thanksgiving meal with turkey, gravy and stuffing, so I am limited to a few side dishes. We typically have a couple of sides like corn, green beans and peas, but corn is my favorite vegetable because it has the most flavor, especially when it is crisp and seasoned well.To this day, corn remains one of my favorite side dishes on Thanksgiving.
Kyra Chevalier: Picture this: it’s Thanksgiving. You’re at your grandmother’s house. Don’t get me wrong - your grandmother is a sweet woman, and she bakes a mean pie, but her cooking, not so much. You take a bite of the turkey that she definitely did not baste. It’s dry. Bone dry. Drier than the Sahara Desert. It feels like sand in your mouth. Thanksgiving is ruined. Then you spot it: a gravy boat. You’re saved. Gravy isn’t just a useful way to repurpose the pan drippings from your turkey. It’s the only condiment that can save your grandmother’s turkey from itself. If you’re cooking your Friendsgiving turkey and not sure how it will turn out, serve it with gravy. If you made mashed potatoes then realized you’re out of butter, add some gravy. Turkey sandwiches are perfect for gravy. Gravy is the Thanksgiving hero we need, and the one we deserve.
Illustrations by SOPHIE SPENCER and NOAH ZHOU
Trip Splits Students Pro-Palestine group’s tweet brings in death threats as discussion over trip continues
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One year ago, UVM Hillel, a Jewish student group, was offered funds for a trip to Israel and Palestine territories. The source of that funding came under ﬁre from student activists supportive of Palestine and remains criticized a year later. The funding for the trip is from a group called Maccabee Task Force, a group that has labeled itself a proIsrael organization and is against the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions movement for Justice in Palestine, according to their website. The founder of MTF, Sheldon Adelson, was one of the largest Republican donors in the 2016 election. Since May 2019 Adelson has donated at least $549,200 to various conservative candidates and groups, according to the Federal Election Commission. Once again, the trip has come under ﬁre and has divided UVM’s campus.
THE TWEET: A UVM student group’s tweet has brought threats of violence and criticism due to its language and messaging. The group, Students for Justice in Palestine at UVM, tweeted a message out to its followers that condemned the Zionist movement in international politics. Zionism is the belief that Israel should further develop its land, often at the cost of Palestinan lives. “Zionist pussy smells like earring backs, sorry luv that’s science,” the Nov. 14 tweet stated. In a statement to the Cynic, members of the group stated they regret that the tweet was published. Almost immediately, the tweet came under a barrage of messages and replies condemning the student group’s tweet as anti-Semitic.
“You know what doesn’t enhance that the University had nothing tweet was, no policies were broken,” she said. “No University or SGA policy the value of a UVM education for further to say about the tweets. “These messages are self- was broken. We [SGA] absolutely Jewish students? Being subjected to this kind of hate. When are you going explanatory and the University does condemn what the tweet said and to ban this group from campus?” not have anything additional to how it happened, but unfortunately, no speciﬁc policy was broken.” stated a Nov. 15 tweet from the share,” the email stated. The day after the SJP tweet that SGA also chimed in, in their own account called (((MischaMischief))). set off a ﬁrestorm on social media, Additionally, the group received social media post on Facebook. The statement, written in part SGA met with the group to discuss some threats and threatening what happened responses, and how to avoid members of the it in the future, group said. Parker said. “Any career In a statement plans for after to the Cynic, the #college @uvmsjp group stated I hear some new it regrets what positions just happened and opened up in #PIJ they have made rocket squads... changes to how jobs come with they operate on high chance social media. of martyrdom The statement and possible 72 was submitted virgins, gender anonymously unspeciﬁed,” to the Cynic a tweet from - Sarah Granof to protect the Jeremiah Rozman Hillel’s Israel Engagement Coordinator identities of those stated. in the group. Many Twitter users tagged UVM in a number of tweets by SGA President Jillian Scannell, a have received death threats on social and called on the University to senior, Vice President Owen Doherty, media and fear being targeted by the intervene. Many of those that tweeted a junior and junior Grace Parker, group called Canary Mission, which at UVM had the words “Zionist” in chair of the club affairs committee, publishes information of known their biography boxes on their Twitter condemned the use of “offensive Palestian activists, members of the language,” according to their Nov. 18 group stated to the Cynic. accounts. “SJP regrets that the tweet went The University responded on Facebook post. “The Student Government up and we’ve revised our social media Twitter as tweets poured in. On Nov. 15 the ofﬁcial UVM Association condemns the use of protocols as well as disciplined the offensive language directed at any individual responsible to make sure it account tweeted the following: “UVM ofﬁcials are gathering more group on our campus. The Student doesn’t happen again. We hope that information about this incident, and Government Association is working CSI [Catamounts Supporting Israel] following up with the student group with members of the UVM community will hold themselves to the moral to discuss our goal to provide a safe, to address the issue of a vulgar standard they expect of us, and join us welcoming campus. Any disciplinary message tweeted by one of our SGA in condemning the racist responses action will be taken based on a full recognized student organizations. and threats that we received over review of the facts, in compliance SGA strongly believes that students the weekend,” according to the should engage in respectful dialogue statement. with university policies.” SJP at UVM has since deleted On Nov. 16 UVM tweeted the with one another and create an environment of mutual respect that their Twitter account. following: “We believe strongly in creating support the values stated in Our an environment of mutual respect Common Ground,” the post stated. ANOTHER YEAR, In an interview Nov. 22, Scannell and civility and condemn the use ANOTHER TRIP: of offensive language targeting said the club, which is recognized by members of our community. It’s SGA, did not violate any SGA or UVM UVM Hillel plans to accept rules and would not be facing any funding from a Zionist organization antithetical to our values.” UVM Spokesperson Enrique sanctions. for the second year in a row despite “As vulgar and upsetting that the mounting criticism from the UVM Corederra stated in a Nov. 20 email
“We at Hillel believe that Israel has a right to exist. You can walk in and out of this trip not believing that and that is totally fine. We present opportunities to engage with Palestine, Israel and different minorities across the region.”
community. The mon Maccabee Tas to Israel and Perspectives. The trip opportunity t of the conﬂict form their ow according to th Student gr their oppositio open letter po page Nov. 15 in Palestine. “This trip leaders, me government, and students and interfaith inﬂuence camp student-led m with Palestine The group are opposed to bias towards source. The gr trip that visits according to th Last May, $100,000 fro students on t receiving simi organization’s and right-wing MTF is a p that is agains Sanctions mo Palestine, acco The found Adelson, was Republican d election, con million to pr according to Commission. MTF has a the David Hor a group that for distributin SJP members according to a
Conflict Timeline 1917
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Image Source: UVM Twitter
1939 of tweets by condemning the tweet by Students for Justice in Palestine at UVM as anti-Semetic. UVM responded to a barrage
ney donated by the sk Force will fund a trip Palestine called UVM
is advertised as an to explore both sides t and allow students to wn opinion about Israel, he trip’s application. roups have announced on to this decision in an osted on their Facebook by Students for Justice
openly targets student embers of student students of color involved in religious h life in an attempt to pus politics and combat movements in solidarity e,” the letter stated. ps that signed the letter o the trip because of its Israel and its funding roups refuse to go on a s illegally occupied land, he letter. , UVM Hillel accepted om MTF to take 20 the same trip, despite ilar criticism about the s ties to Zionist groups g political groups. pro-Israel organization st the Boycott, Divest, ovement for Justice in ording to their website. der of MTF, Sheldon s one of the largest donors in the 2016 ntributing over $30 ro-Trump super PACs, the Federal Election
also donated money to rowitz Freedom Center, was found responsible ng posters that labeled s as, “terrorist allies,” a 2016 LA Times article.
el, the director of UVM
Hillel, said his job is to ﬁnd sources of money 1947 to create ways for more student impact 1948-1949 and programming, 1948-1977 and that includes 1948-1954accepting the 1949-1960’s money from MTF. 1955-1963 1956-1957 “My goal as a nonproﬁt director 1957 is to accept investment from a philanthropist and the people who 1961 have the means 1962 to give support to a cause 1966 they believe in, and channel 1967 impact,” he said. that into a positive The application to the trip includes information 1972 about the funding source and a link to 1973 the Maccabee Task Force’s1974 website. 1975 a UVM Skye Lockwood, 1976 graduate student1977 who went on the Perspectives trip last year, said it’s 1981 important 1982 to look past 1984 the funding 1985 because1986 of the work put 1987 1988 in by Hillel to create an 1990 1991trip unbiased 1992 for students. “It concerns me when people focus solely on the source funding and then they stop there and don’t go further,” Lockwood said. “I was skeptical and waiting for something to be obnoxiously pro-Israel, but it wasn’t there.” Fourteen clubs signed the open letter, including UVM Outing Club, Planned Parenthood Generation Action at UVM, UVM Progressives and the socialist group Bread and Roses Collective. Senior Alexander Smith, a leader of Bread and Roses Collective, said it’s false to advertise the trip as being unbiased because it is funded and led by pro-Israel groups. “A critical question you have to ask yourself is this, why would someone who supports Israel fund this trip, if they spend the rest of their time harassing Palestinian activists and providing outright support for the Israeli government’s actions?” Smith said. The trip was planned by UVM Hillel, a group that is, “inspired to make an enduring commitment to
Jewish life, learning and Israel,” about having difﬁculty ﬁnding other people to talk to us about it, so there according to their website. UVM Hillel had 1948 complete was a slight bias in that sense, but I autonomy in organizing the tripIndependence and don’t think that was intentional.” The group spent two of the creating its itinerary, Vogel stated in eight days of the trip in Palestinian a Nov. 21 email. territories. 1956 Despite UVM Hillel’s pro-Israel Suez Crisis Daniel Rubenstein, the group’s stance, leaders of the trip, including Vogel and Hillel’s Israel Engagement tour guide on the trip, was a former Coordinator Sarah Granof, said the member of the Israel Defense Forces, trip did not try to inﬂuence student the Israeli military. He was also 1967 Six Day War previously a spokesperson for the opinions. “We at Hillel believe that Israel IDF, according to his website. Some students have raised has a right to exist,” Granof said. “You can walk in and out of this trip not concerns about American students 1977 ﬁne. touring believing that and that is totally Accord Palestine territories and Camp David We present opportunities to engage Israel when people that live in the Lebanon Invasion of area are not able to return to the place with Palestine, Israel and1982 different they consider 1987 home because of Uprising the conﬂict. “We think 1993 Oslo Declaration it’s wrong that random American 2000 Pullout from Lebanon students who - Anastasia Light don’t have ties Junior who went on the trip last May 2005 Withdrawl from Gaza to Israel or 2008 Gaza Invasion Palestine should be allowed to enter when there are so minorities across the region.” Some students that went on the many people living in refugee camps Governmen have no rightt to return,” Smith trip last year said they felt2015 theNetanyahu’s trip and4th 2017 while said. lived up to these standards, Trump Thaw Senior Amanda Duffy who went others did not. Senior Z McCarron, who went on the trip last year acknowledged on the trip last May, said they were that her ability to travel freely in originally a large opponent of the trip Israel and Palestine territories was because of its funding source. After privileged. “There wasn’t a day on that trip eventually deciding to apply and go, they said the leaders of the trip did that I didn’t acknowledge that I was a good job of incorporating many learning about this from a coach bus perspectives and not trying to push driving around this area,” Duffy said. Light said certain parts of the trip any view on students. “The trip was supposed to be a trip were disrespectful to the people that that gave students the opportunity lived there. “There was one part of the trip to gain their own perspective on the conﬂict, and I think they were in Palestine, and we went down successful in that and did that really this street that I just thought was incredibly disrespectful to bring a well,” McCarron said. Junior Anastasia Light, who went group of students down,” Light said. “People were clearly looking at us on the trip last May, said the trip had some bias towards Israel and like, ‘why are you here,’ and in that that it lacked a strong student pro- moment I was like ‘this is messed up,’” she said. Palestinian voice. “I deﬁnitely heard more Israeli perspectives than not on the trip,” Light said. “I think a lot of that was
“People were clearly looking at us like, ‘why are you here,’ and in that moment I was like ‘this is messed up.”
partition of Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states
First Arab-Israeli War; armistice agreements leave Israel with more territory than expected under Partition Plan; 750,000 Palestinian Arabs ﬂee or are expelled
A six-day war leaves Israel in charge of East Jerusalem, all of West Bank, Gaza, Golan Heights and Sinai
1972 Palestinian “Black
September” gunmen take the Israeli team hostage at Munich Olympics
1975 U.N. General
Assembly adopts resolution describing Zionism as a form of racism. The resolution is later rescinded in 1991.
Israel withdraws from most of Gaza and the West Bank of Jericho
Iraeli army launches Operation Defensive Shield on West Bank
Israel begins building barrier in and around the West Bank
2015 Macabee Task
Force is founded
U.S. agrees to military aid package worth $38 billion over 10 years for Israel
President Donald Trump recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel
2018 Macabee Task
Force offers to fund UVM Hillel for Perspectives Trip
2019 Twenty UVM
students embark on ﬁrst Perspectives Trip
illustrations by KATE VANNI
Understand bias behind “Perspectives” Letter to the Editor
Alexander Smith, UVM ‘20
ast summer, UVM student leaders were invited to attend Maccabee Task Force’s Perspectives Trip, a propaganda campaign designed to obscure the brutal Israeli occupation of Palestine. Unfortunately, Hillel at UVM has decided to bring back the Perspectives Trip this year and is once again inviting UVM students on a tour of an apartheid state. Maccabee Task Force was founded by Sheldon Adelson, a right-wing billionaire who was one of the largest contributors to President Donald Trump’s campaign, according to a September 2016 Guardian article. Maccabee Task Force brings student leaders on propaganda trips. While these trips are designed and funded by proIsrael groups, Maccabee Task Force presents them as neutral. Maccabee Task Force’s explicit goal is to combat criticism of Israel, which it equates with anti-Semitism, according to their website. An organization which believes any support for Palestinians is anti-Semitic cannot present an unbiased view of the IsraelPalestine conflict. Since its creation in 1947, Israel has operated an apartheid regime based on the expulsion of Palestinians
from their homes, according to activist group War on Want’s website. Apartheid is a system where crimes against humanity are committed within the context of institutionalized, sysematic racial hierarchy, according to the International Criminal Court. Palestinians have a right to return to their homes, according to Article 194 of the UN General Assembly, but Israel refuses to comply, offering “peace deals” which leave millions of Palestinians displaced and without equal, democratic rights. Israel is colonizing even within the territories of the West Bank and Gaza, building new settlements and bulldozing Palestinian homes. Since 1967, Israel has built 150 settlements in occupied Palestine and demolished over 27,000 Palestinian homes according to a November 2016 Al Jazeera article. Supporters of Israel are intervening so aggressively on college campuses because the relentless and enduring Palestinian resistance is finally breaking through to the American people, especially young people. During the Great March of Return, Palestinians in Gaza, most of whom are internally displaced refugees, protested for their right to return to their homes, according to a March 30 Al Jazeera article.
Israel responded with extreme brutality, killing over 150 Palestinians and injuring over 10,000, including the murder of 31 children, according to Amnesty International’s website. The actions of the Israeli state make it increasingly difficult for American progressives to support a transparently repressive and undemocratic state. Israel’s supporters are desperate to propagandize to student
leaders in order to cut off the head of popular anti-apartheid consciousness. Israel receives the strong loyalty and support of the American right because of its role in the neoconservative agenda, which is why conservatives like Adelson are funding trips like the Perspectives Trip. A trip paid for by America’s far-right, which centers the voices of Israeli government spokespeople and limits
access to Palestinian voices, is not going to provide a fair representation of the IsraelPalestine conflict. The funders of the Perspectives Trip will not provide a balanced trip because it is not in their interests. UVM student leaders should not accept this offer. They should boycott Perspectives, listen to Palestinian voices and answer the call for international solidarity.
Democratic state success doesn’t mean national wins Chris Harrell firstname.lastname@example.org
emocrats scored key victories across the country in statewide elections earlier this month. They captured the governorships of Louisiana and Kentucky and flipped the Virginia Senate from red to blue, giving the Democrats control of every branch of government in the state for the first time in decades. But Democrats should be careful about viewing these wins as a sign of certain victory in the presidential election next November and beyond. There are three things that stand out to me as reasons for Democrats to avoid drawing conclusions from these races. 1. Medicaid. Sweet, sweet Medicaid expansion was on the ballot for governors races in Kentucky and Louisiana. Kentucky was probably the most surprising victory for Democrats this November. Governor-elect Andy Beshear of Kentucky was handed his greatest advantage
by current Gov. Matt Bevin’s attempts to roll back Medicaid, according to an Oct. 21 Associated Press article. The governor attempted to implement work requirements that would have kicked thousands of Kentuckians off their healthcare and roll back the expansion of Medicaid that occurred during the governorship of Bevin’s predecessor, according to the same article. Beshear, and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, both ran heavily on both protecting Medicaid and expanding it, and many analysts have pointed to that support as a key factor in their victories. Medicaid is extremely popular, boasting a 74% favorability rating in a 2018 survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation. 2. Moderate, “Suburban Blue” is not a sustainable strategy for Democratic accomplishment. Even though most gains that the Democratic Party made were in higherincome suburban areas with predominantly white populations, according to a Nov. 24 Wall Street Journal
SAVANAH TEBEAU SHERRY
article, this pattern won’t repeat itself nationally. While it is advantageous in the short-term to secure the votes of traditionally Republican-leaning voters disaffected by President Donald Trump, this is not a good strategy for Democrats long-term aims. These Never-Trumpers are more economically and socially conservative than the base of the Democratic Party, which for years has consisted largely of the poor, working class and marginalized communities. Bringing the white and
wealthy demographic into the party will have one of two effects. Either they abandon the party for post-Trump Republicans once it is socially acceptable again, or they drive the party to the right. The former would be disastrous and lead to a midterm defeat for Democrats in 2022. The latter would prevent Democrats from accomplishing anything meaningful in the event they take office by electing more centrist, fiscally conservative Democrats who are the opposite of the party’s
growing Progressive energy. A more sustainable voter strategy would be reaching out to non-voters, which tend to be poor, young and members of racial and ethnic minority groups. Many are disaffected by a political system which seems to be rigged against people like them, and can be inspired to vote by a party whose platform and priorities serves them over wealthy white suburbanites. 3. Down-ballot disasters in Kentucky and Louisiana should be looked at pretty strongly. Beshear squeaked out a victory by slightly less than 50%, but every other Democrat running statewide lost, with some getting less than 40% of the vote, according to election results from the New York Times. The same story was true in Louisiana. Democrats should be wary of assuming success based on a few individually popular governors.
Chris Harrell is a senior political science major. He has been writing for the Cynic since spring 2019.
l u o w oh d wi
vs. LUKAS DRAUGELIS/The Vermont Cynic
Students study with an empty coﬀee cup between them at 10:30 p.m. Nov. 19, in Howe Library.
The science of sleep Jean MacBride email@example.com
Among college students, 70.6% reported that they get an inadequate amount of sleep, according to a June 2014 study by the National Institute of Health. At ﬁnals time, students in Howe Library have different ideas about sleep and schoolwork. Sophomore David Lindholm said that his sleep schedule remains consistent during ﬁnals. “My sleep schedule doesn’t change that much,” Lindholm said. “I still go to bed around 1 a.m. and wake up around 9:30 a.m. I think that’s enough sleep for my schedule and the activities I do.” He said he puts schoolwork ahead of sleep during ﬁnals. “I always try to do my schoolwork before sleep because I can lose a couple hours of sleep and be ﬁne the next day,” he said. Sophomore Lydia Koutras said her sleep schedule varies during ﬁnals week. “I’m a sophomore, so I’ve only done ﬁnals two times,” Koutras said. “Typically it’s ﬁve hours a night, a couple nights six. I typically do my studying during the day.” She said she tries to balance grades and sleep. “No, I don’t put my grades under sleep, but I try to do my work as much as I can in a day,” she said. Koutras said that her sleep schedule during ﬁnals week is not what it usually is at other times of the year. “Finals week is an exception, so I will be studying harder,” she said. “It’s a consecutive exam week so most of the days have an exam versus other weeks that might only have one.”
The call of caffeine Natalie Charron
Sleep deprivation can have a stronger negative effect on academic success than the use of drugs or alcohol, according to an October 2018 Journal of the National Sleep Foundation article. “On average, each additional day per week that a student experienced sleep problems raised the probability of dropping a course by 10% and lowered the cumulative GPA by 0.02,” the article stated. According to a December 2018 article published to Baylor University’s website, students received extra credit for hitting eight hours of sleep. Other than the academic losses, students’ mental health could be at risk as well. Koutras said that ﬁnals week could provoke anxiety. “I’m deﬁnitely very anxious, but I try to minimize the anxiety I have by trying to get some sleep,” she said. Senior Zachary Vandenberg said his sleep during ﬁnals week is consistent with the rest of the school year. “My sleep is pretty normal, about 8 1/2 to nine hours a day,” he said. Vandenberg said he stays away from technology such as cell phones and computers before going to sleep. “I try to lay off technology about 20 minutes before bed,” he said. Vandenberg said he prioritizes sleep over grades. “Sometimes people say it’s easier to cram, but I ﬁnd it’s easier to retain information when I got a good night’s sleep,” he said. Students are gearing up for ﬁnals season. While some students choose to sacriﬁce sleep for the grade, others decided that hours of shut eye are not worth skipping.
With ﬁnals approaching, students are turning to caffeinated drinks in an attempt to summon the energy to cram. Several students at 10:30 p.m. Nov. 19 were at Howe Library for a late night study session, typing on laptops and scribbling in notebooks with Speeder & Earl’s coffee cups sitting on their tables. Caffeine consumed in moderation can be beneﬁcial, according to an October 2010 study by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Health. Some of these beneﬁts include an increase in energy, a decrease in mental fatigue and an increase in focus and concentration, according to the study. Sophomore Kat Eschel said she noticed these beneﬁts. “I think [coffee] has helped me with productivity,” Eschel said. Eschel was studying in the library while drinking a small Speeder’s coffee from the Cyber Café She believes caffeine can have both physical and mental effects, she said. “I also think it’s kind of like a mind game you play with yourself,” Eschel said. “Like, caffeine is supposed to help me study, caffeine’s supposed to help keep me awake, so you’re like ‘oh, this is totally helping,’ when in reality, it could just be like, you’re focusing [on your own].” Sophomore Hannah Coon agreed that caffeine does help with productivity, but it isn’t the only reason a student is productive. “I’ve been productive, [but] I don’t think it’s because of the coffee,” Coon said while drinking a Speeder’s coffee
from the Cyber Café. “I think it helps, but I don’t think that’s the sole reason why.” Students like junior Emma Sibley have also used caffeine as a substitute for sleep. “Before I started my work I was feeling extremely tired and kind of just run down because I’ve been feeling a little sleep deprived lately, and this kind of woke me up and just gave me an extra boost,” Sibley said, drinking a mocha coffee. Although there are beneﬁts to consuming caffeine, students recognize that it’s more of a crutch than a substitute for sleep and good study habits. Feeling wired when drinking caffeine is common among college students. A 2015 study at the University of Rome reported that consuming over 400mg of caffeine per day can cause unwanted effects, such as anxiety, agitation, restlessness and sleeping problems, according to a Nov. 7 Medical News Today article. Sibley said that she doesn’t normally drink coffee because she has felt these negative effects. “Typically I don’t drink caffeine very often, or when I typically do, I do feel wired when I’m trying to go to sleep,” she said. The general consensus of these students at Howe Library was that caffeine is helpful when studying, but it isn’t the sole reason a student is productive. They agreed that it does increase concentration and keep them awake. The wide array of caffeine options provided at UVM allow for students to keep their brains alert, but whether it increases performance or not is dependent on the student.
Meet Dia Brown: engineer and leader Emma Shapera firstname.lastname@example.org
Despite the STEM community making up many of UVM’s majors, there was no National Society for Black Engineers at the University until last year. Junior Dia Brown, the club’s president and founder, launched the club at UVM in August 2018. “When I found out in my first year there wasn’t a NSBE at UVM, I knew I wanted to start it,” Brown said. Brown first explored engineering in high school, where she was in the first engineering program at her school. “It was mostly white males, so I didn’t think it was for me,” Brown said. “I enjoyed the class but not the treatment I was getting in the class.” Brown pushed through with the help of her adviser who continually supported her and motivated her. Not letting this desire get away from her, Brown spent the summer before her sophomore year prepping the NSBE for the upcoming fall. “There are no professors who are black engineers in [the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences],” Brown said. “It’s kind of intimidating to have this conversation about race with pretty much all white staff.”
SAWYER LOFTUS/The Vermont Cynic
Junior Dia Brown poses in the UVM FabLab, Nov. 20. The FabLab makes rapid-prototyping tools available to UVM students and faculty. That’s when Brown got in touch with Marnie Owen, the assistant dean for student affairs in CEMS at the time. Owen put Brown and Linda Schadler, the dean of CEMS, in contact. Schadler immediately got on board with the club’s mission. With funding from the dean,
the UVM chapter was born. Without faculty support, the club would not be possible, Brown said. Attending NSBE events like nationals have been momentous for the club. At nationals the students participate in engineering competitions and have
opportunities to network with professionals in the industry. Brown said the club is focusing on community outreach. They work with Winooski High School to create career development programs for students. Brown emphasized that anyone of any race can attend a
NSBE meeting. “The biggest misconception people have when they talk to me is that the club is black only,” Brown said. “If people have ideas they’re coming with, we’re open to any and all as we’re continuing to grow to form who we are.”
UVM and Garuka team up to feed the needy Willow Scherwinski email@example.com
A small, transportable snack is a trusted boost of energy to many students, especially when cramming for exams around the corner. Garuka Bars is a small company based in Burlington that caters to this demand. Mike Rosenburg, Vermonter and founder of Garuka Bars, began making the bars in 2011. This year, Rosenburg created the Garuka Bar Challenge. “I wanted to do something promotional during this time of year that draws attention to an important issue in our community,” Rosenburg said. “We have a lot of people who don’t have as much access to food as they should.” For every bar sold at the Cyber Café on campus, the cost of one meal would be donated to the Vermont Food Shelf. An avid hiker, skier, soccer player and swimmer, Rosenburn was going stir-crazy while recovering from a knee injury. Wanting something constructive to do with his spare time, Rosenburg took to the kitchen. “Eventually I tried energy bars and ended up liking them,” Rosenburg said. “The thing that
pulled it all together was my coworker’s raw honey. It made a huge difference in the bar’s flavor, consistency and energy.” For Rosenburg, this was the first step in prioritizing wholesome ingredients into his hand-pressed Garuka bars. “To put it simply, we want to use ingredients that are normal and recognizable,” Rosenburg said. “I want people to look at the ingredient list and know that the bar is made of real food.” In 2013, Garuka Bars was recognized as fitting criteria for the Real Food Challenge. From there, they were brought into partnership with UVM, Sodexo and Black River Produce to support the local food system on campus. Sophomore Ellery Mahlum appreciates UVM’s effort to provide local foods on campus. “I always feel better when I know where my food comes from, so it is more reassuring to choose local food businesses,” Mahlum said. “It not only is good for my health, but also for the community.” First-year Phoebe Norman shares this sentiment because it helps her develop a sense of place, she said. “I’m a first-year student, so I’m still finding roots here,”
MADDY DEGELSMITH/The Vermont Cynic
A Garuka Bar rests on a table, Nov. 22. Garuka Bars are sold in numerous locations on campus, including Henderson’s Cafe and the Cyber Café. Norman said. “It’s important to invest in the people and places I live in because I am apart of the community they look to first for support.” To help make the Garuka Bar Challenge a success, Black River Produce, a Vermontbased food distributer, put up half the funds needed to supply meals to the Food Shelf.
In addition, for every 10 photos of a bar that are emailed to Garuka Bars or posted on social media, another meal is donated. The Vermont Food Bank had an anonymous donor that doubled Garuka Bars’ donation for a total of 3,148 meals. As temperatures drop, access to warm meals for those
in need is crucial. “The ability to get food to feed your family during the holiday season is invaluable,” Norman said. “I think that the Garuka Bar Challenge finds a way to achieve that in a way that isn’t asking too much of college students.”
Senior hits stride in final XC season Aryanna Ramsaran firstname.lastname@example.org
Most runners feel some kind of enjoyment each time they hit a personal record. For senior Phoebe Koski, hitting a personal record feels sparkly. “It feels good,” Koski sad. “It’s kind of sparkly. I don’t know.” The UVM men’s and women’s cross country teams traveled to Buffalo, New York, for the NCAA Northeast Regionals Nov. 15. Koski hit a personal record as the top ﬁnisher for UVM, ﬁnishing the 6k in 20 minutes, 44.8 seconds and placing 48th overall in her race, according to UVM athletics. Koski paced the women’s team as they took 13th place, according to UVM athletics. Head coach Matt Belﬁeld and teammate senior Sunny Nagpaul both said that Koski’s biggest contribution to the team is her ability to pace. “She’s great at workouts,” Belﬁeld said. “People can key off of her because she’ll run great workouts and be someone they can pace off of.” In workouts, Koski said she usually takes the lead. But when it comes to racing, she doesn’t like to take the lead. Instead, Koski said she likes to
Image Source: UVM
Senior Phoebe Koski (Left) runs with sophomore teammate Bel Sogoloﬀ in the NCAA Northeast Regionals, Nov. 15. Koloski posted a time of 20 minutes, 44.8 seconds, a personal best, for the 6k. run as one big pack with her team. Koski and Nagpaul have been running together since they were ﬁrst-years on the team, Nagpaul said. “We have pretty good conversations, and we talk while we run,” Nagpaul said. “Most of the other seniors are abroad, so it’s cool because me and [Koski] have like, a little group.”
Koski and Nagpaul are two of the four seniors on the roster this season, according to UVM athletics. “Me and Phoebe shared rain at America East,” Nagpaul said. “It was America East our ﬁrst year, and we had run the same race, and on our cooldown, it was like the ﬁrst rain of spring. “It wasn’t really, but it our ﬁrst one when we were there
together, so we ran in the rain.” Belﬁeld has been Koski’s coach since she started running for UVM in 2016, according to UVM athletics. “The best race that comes to mind was the 1500-meter she ran last year outdoors in the wind at the University of New Hampshire,” Belﬁeld said. “She executed really well and was able to beat a lot of really good
people in that race.” Koski said she just wanted to see an improvement from last year. This season she earned America East All-Conference First Team honors after her race at the Regionals, according to UVM athletics. Koski is majoring in anthropology with a minor in art history. She said she hopes to work in a museum. When Koski is not running or working on schoolwork, she’s writing. “I do write, and I like creative writing a lot,” she said. “Whenever I get the chance, I like to sign up for a creative writing elective.” Outside of cross country, the team does a lot of wholesome activities like movie nights and apple picking, Koski said. Nagpaul said a funny memory of Koski was her cat’s birthday party. “I gave my cat a birthday party,” Koski said. “He just turned one. He’s a Libra with a Scorpio mood.” During her time off for winter break, Koski said she’s going to spend time with friends. “I’m excited to relax and maybe go to a concert or something,” Koski said.
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University of Vermont Classics
sics University of Vermont Clas
University of Vermont Classics
University of Vermont Clas
University of Vermont Classics
(TOP) Number of courses offered in the classics department from Fall 2015 to Fall 2019, according to UVMâ€™s program enrollment records.
Infographic by STEPHANIE HODEL
Classics struggles to not fall into ruins Lilly Page email@example.com
Itâ€™s 9:40 a.m., and students in classics professor Mark Usherâ€™s â€œClassics Then and Nowâ€? are excitedly chatting about a book they read, â€œThe Golden Ass of Lucius Apuleius.â€? This book was adapted from Latin by the professor standing in front of them. As Usher claps his hands and discusses his work, one might say there is no lack of passion in the classics department. Yet, there is slowly a lack of funding and professors. With the rise of science, technology, engineering and math majors, the interests of UVMâ€™s students are starting to shift from humanities to STEM programs. Professor John Franklin, classics department chair, has seen the effects of the shifting interests. â€œI understand that [other departments] need help, but itâ€™s coming at the expense of the smaller departments that are getting weaker as a result,â€? Franklin said. According to UVMâ€™s program enrollment records, the number of courses offered by the classics department has fluctuated from 2015 to 2019, going from 16 classes a semester in 2016 to seven in 2018. In addition, the number of students taking the classics classes offered is on a downward trend compared to UVMâ€™s STEM courses. First-year Felisa Hollenbeak, a biochemistry major, is aware of the defunding but thinks that humanities and STEM work together to help humans form a view of the world. â€œI donâ€™t think that universities should defund certain programs over the other just because somebody thinks that one will be more useful and more practical for people to pursue as a profession,â€? Hollenbeak said.
Bill Falls, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, addresses the shrinking department as a result of UVMâ€™s student bodyâ€™s fluctuating interest in majors. â€œThe college was put in a position where we had to make some challenging decisions about staffing,â€? Falls said. â€œWe have growth in some of the social sciences like economics and political science and certainly in biology. I mean, thatâ€™s what students are wanting to major in.â€? Despite teaching in the classics department, Usher said he understands why the budget is shifting at UVM and other universities throughout the U.S. Students today want preparation in a specific discipline, like choosing a major for a specific profession, Usher said. â€œThatâ€™s not what the liberal arts are about,â€? Usher said. â€œThatâ€™s not what the University ever was about.â€? Junior Ben Gaucherin, a classics major, is concerned about the declining of classes because some of his required courses for his major are not being offered as regularly as they once were. â€œItâ€™s difficult to see your department getting cut,â€? he said. Gaucherin, who chose classics after bouncing back and forth between majors, speaks highly of the welcoming atmosphere from the department and its professors. â€œWe are fortunate to have very smart classics professors,â€? he said. â€œI feel like thatâ€™s even a weak adjective to describe them. Theyâ€™re innovative.â€? Even though the department is small, the importance of classics relates directly to the modern world, Gaucherin said. â€œYou have sort of the earliest condensed human societies that are here,â€? he said. â€œYouâ€™re looking at the foundations of Western society.â€? A schedule of a UVM student
MARY MCLELLEAN/The Vermont Cynic
(RIGHT) Professor John Franklin, classics department chair, holds office hours in a classics seminar room with students, Nov. 21. Eleven classics classes were offered for the 2019 fall semester. from 1835, shows that students were required to take numerous courses that would fall within the classics category, such as studying Homerâ€™s â€œOdyssey,â€? Greek lyric poetry, moral philosophy, Greek drama and Greek politicians. In reference to these past requirements, Franklin said that offering classics was a way for state universities to rival the Ivy Leagues by expanding the ability to learn about classics from the elite to ordinary people. â€œThe humanities help you to become a well-rounded human,
and we need well-rounded humans,â€? Franklin said. â€œWe need people that can think through human problems and come to humane solutions.â€? Falls agreed with Franklin and said classics is a major that is essential for the University to have. â€œI know that the classics department has declined in their faculty under my watch, at my hand, but I donâ€™t want to confuse that with a lack of admiration and appreciation for my colleagues,â€? he said. For the future of the classics department, Falls said that he
wants to continue to work with the department on how they will continue to offer courses at UVM. â€œ[The classics department] is central to what we do and how we can deal with this current sort of context that we find ourselves in, where students are not studying the humanities in depth,â€? he said. Only time will tell what happens to the classics department, but with the passion from the professors matched with the goal of Falls to work to offer courses in classics, it doesnâ€™t look bleak.