October 2019


by Matt Heller

Executive Editor 

Around 10 years ago, students began taking four, four-credit classes each semester, the same system that is in place today. That meant most faculty taught a 3-3-3-2 course load, which means they would teach three classes for three semesters and then only two classes for a fourth semester. Over time, stresses such as faculty constraints under a tightening budget led to a 3-3-3-3 system, according to Professor William Karstens, the chair of the Faculty Welfare Committee.  

Now, there is a chance that additional requirements will increase faculty loads. During open forums, the majority argued that a 3-4 or even a 3-3-3-4 could be detrimental to the well-being of the faculty. While nothing has been decided upon, a decision is likely to come this week, according to Karstens. 

“We’re trying to work on something that tries to minimize the amount of extra work that has to be done, in the midst of solving issues of getting more students on campus and stuff like that,” Karstens said. 

William Karstens, professor of physics and chair of the Faculty Welfare Committee, acknowledges that an increase in teaching requirements could be detrimental to faculty, but the committee is working to better distribute responsibilities.
(Photo courtesy of Saint Michael’s College)

When requirements were increased to a 3-3-3-3, some faculty thought that it would eventually go back to a 3-3-3-2. After a few years, it was clear that due to budget constraints and declining enrollment, this was not going to happen. 

Either way, an increase in teaching requirements will require faculty to make sacrifices. For Karstens, it’s a tradeoff with the high demands, and that’s what the committee is trying to help with. 

“We know we have to step up and do something because of the stressors we are undergoing, and it’s just how are we going to do it in such a way that spreads the pain as fair as possible and not overwhelming what’s already a pretty packed plate,” Karstens said.         

An added course in a semester involves more than lectures in the classroom. “There’s homework, assignments, discussions, and meetings with students. That’s where I think the true learning happens, and we don’t put a time limit on that, nor a limit of effort,” said Dean of Faculty Tara Natarajan.

“As people get stretched further, the things that get dropped off the plate are the ones that aren’t in the contract,” said Patricia Siplon, professor of political science, who, outside of teaching, is the treasurer for St. Michael’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors, the faculty advisor for the school’s chapter of the Student Global AIDS Campaign, and an instructor for the Adventure Sports Center. She worries that there aren’t enough faculty to fill positions, and she worries about what will be cut first due to the limited personnel. 

“Social justice pieces [are] not what we are contracted to do, so that’s what’s going to get shorted,” she said.   

Patricia Siplon, professor of political science, believes that a greater social phenomenon of increased productivity affects what professors are able to do outside of their contracted work. 
(Photo courtesy of Saint Michael’s College)

Natarajan said she is currently involved in faculty searches for several departments, including political science, sociology, criminology, environmental science and studies, biology, and art and design.     

Like Karstens, she acknowledges there’s a problem, but is hopeful that dedicated faculty can pull through. Over the summer, an ad-hoc committee was developed to help better allocate resources. 

While Natarajan believes faculty need time away from school, it’s far from a conventional job. 

“It’s not just a nine to five. I call it getting on the running train that never stops.”

For some professors, however, it’s just part of the job. “I wouldn’t call it stressful. I’m here to teach, so I’m going to teach,” said physics professor Alain Brizard, who teaches both physics courses and core science courses.

With all the talk around the number of courses and time spent, quality of work can get lost, especially when it comes to interaction with students, say some faculty. 

“We’ve made a big mistake, in my opinion, as a culture, in believing that productivity is more important than quality… that quantifiable output is more important than quality connections and quality expression,” Siplon said.  

The quality connection and expression usually comes in the form of interaction with students, especially those that come outside of the classroom. In the end, faculty hope that the existing stress and increased workload won’t deter these relationships with their students. 

Dean of Faculty Tara Natarajan re-invented the Dean of College position to facilitate better conversations with faculty that can help the administration understand how they feel. 
(Photo by Matt Heller)

“A lot of people feel pretty stressed at this particular moment in time. We’re professionals, we try not to let it affect what we do with our students. But I’m not going to lie, it’s a tough time, and we’re working hard,” said English professor Elizabeth Inness-Brown. 

by Matt Heller

Executive Editor   

When Alain Brizard, one of only three faculty members in the physics department, talks about physics students, he doesn’t use technical jargon present in his recently published work on gauge-free electromagnetic gyrokinetic theory and perturbative variational formulation of the Vlasov-Maxwell equations. Instead, he calls them unicorns. “Sometimes I think that a physics student is like a unicorn. They’re very rare, but if you go to a place and you ask ‘Do you have any unicorns?’ and the answer is no… something must be wrong, they can’t attract unicorns,” Brizard said.

English professor Elizabeth Inness-Brown, chair of the Curriculum and Education Policy Committee, led the review of the three at-risk programs. 
(Photo Courtesy of Saint Michael’s College)

Last spring, the administration proposed a cut to three programs: Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MATESOL), French, and Physics. The abrupt proposal gave little time for the programs to respond, said Elizabeth Inness-Brown, chair of the Curriculum and Education Policy Committee (CEPC). So, a summer committee was formed to review them. Each at-risk program compiled a report, and so did the CEPC. Last week, all four reports were sent to the president’s office. Details of the report could not be released at that time.

Despite the proposal, Inness-Brown said she has a positive outlook for the three programs moving forward. There was a similar consensus among the three at-risk programs. 


Professor Alain Brizard said that the size of our physics program allows for opportunities that other institutions can’t offer.  
(Photo Courtesy of Saint Michael’s College)

Brizard acknowledged that the physics department has a small enrollment, usually only two or three new majors a year, but this allows for opportunities other institutions can’t offer. Just this past summer, three physics majors were accepted to nationally-competitive internship programs at places such as the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. 

In addition to teaching courses in the major, physics professors teach core science classes. After professor John O’Meara’s departure last year to the Keck Observatory, the physics department started counting classes as half-classes for professors. While they still count as four credits for students, it allows the professors to continue teaching core science classes as well as the physics courses. 

Brizard, who thinks the caliber of physics students reflects on the college as a whole, said the termination of the program would have rippling effects, even on his competitiveness in research. 

“[Physics] looks like an easy target, but when you look closely, then the implications are sometimes a little more nuanced than just saving money… just because we don’t have unicorns,” Brizard said. 

He recently met with a consulting agent who is helping the school to market in an attempt to highlight what the program offers. In the future, Brizard hopes to see three to four majors per year, as well as seeing more minors coming from the other sciences and programs such as education. 

Professor Benjamin White, the chair of the MATESOL program, said the program began to make progressive changes before administration proposed to cut it. 
(Photo courtesy of Saint Michael’s College)

Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

As for the Master’s TESOL program, a program that runs both on-campus and online, changes were being made well before the administration proposal. In the past two years, the number of MATESOL courses being offered in a calendar year has been reduced from 32 to 23. 

“To be fair, the administration has been working with us, and it sounds like they’re going to be providing a little more support on the marketing side,” said Benjamin White, director of the MATESOL program. 

The program currently has an international presence, highlighted by five Fulbright students from countries such as Nicaragua and Sudan, but White said he wants to work with agencies that provide these students to obtain even more. According to White, the MATESOL program usually has between 40 and 50 students. 

Other MATESOL programs in the area have struggled as well. The School for International Training in Brattleboro has moved away from on-site MATESOL programs, and Marlboro College recently graduated their last students in the program.

“The MATESOL program has been around for a long time here, it’s one of the oldest MATESOL programs in the country. So it does seem like a core part of the institution and obviously, we would hate to lose it, so we are doing what we can to keep it healthy,” White said.  

Professor Peter Vantine, chair of the French program, hopes their new policies and continued offerings of extra-curricular activities helps the program to survive. 
(Photo courtesy of Saint Michael’s College)


Professor Peter Vantine, the chair of the Fench program, said he was not surprised when he found out that the program was in danger of being cut because smaller majors are under more scrutiny. Currently, there are only about 10 French majors, with 12-16 minors. Last year, the program graduated six majors. Only one of them had declared the major before enrolling. According to Vantine, French is commonly doubled with another major. So, while students might come to St. Michael’s with an interest in French, they don’t declare it as a major right away. 

Similar to the MATESOL program, the French program had plans to adjust even before the cut proposal announcement was made. One of the required classes, Literary Studies in French, was switched to an elective, and students will make up for it by taking another elective class. Additionally, one advanced elective that is taught in English can now count for the major. The largest change comes with two new classes, Business French and French for Health Professions, two-credit courses that will alternate every semester.

In addition to these structural changes, Vantine highlighted the extracurricular activities of the program. The French club hosts activities including film screening and trips to Quebec every semester. Additionally, academic study trips led by French professors have increased in number, including a trip to Senegal led by professor Laurence Clerfeuille this upcoming winter. 

While factors such as proximity to Quebec and the language’s growing popularity worldwide assists the program, other decisions such as the dropped requirement for second-language for bachelor of science programs have reduced enrollment in French courses.

“I don’t know what administration is going to decide, but I have optimism for what we’re able to do in French. We’re highly motivated to serve our students well,” Vantine said. 

By Emma Shortall
Multimedia Editor

Saint Michael, according to the St. Michael’s College website, is “a spiritual warrior in the battle of good versus evil.” One would think that our college would be far from haunted. However, stories from students would say otherwise.

“My freshman year, I came into work [in McCarthy], I just needed to paint the floor…the whole booth and [John Devlin’s] office dark, like pitch black, and that’s where the light board is, that’s where all the controls are for different cues and things like that with all the lights on stage. So I came in, turned the work lights that we have here on and started mixing the paint to paint it black. For some reason the paint was just refusing to mix together like it was just oil, it was so weird I couldn’t get it to work… I come out and the lights are cycling through cues like someone’s pressing the buttons up there. I was like, that’s weird, who else is here, no one else is here. There are two buttons backstage that is supposed to take control if anything is happening in the booth. So, I hit the take control button and it stopped cycling through those cues and it starts to go to one spotlight to the center of the stage where I need to work…I’m like real freaked out at this point because that should be a kill switch, that should stop anything that’s happening… I come out and I’m like ‘Sister Sarah, please don’t mess with me I just need to work, please leave me alone, it’s going to be okay, we’re going to be okay’, and all of a sudden all of the cues just start rapid firing, like one after another.” – Kate Bell, ’20

“We decided to do a fun night sleeping over in St. Eds, because why not …the night was normal, nothing happened at night. But, early in the morning, it was still dark …I heard the door open and close, and I woke up and looked but there was no one there, not a soul. I was like okay, that’s weird, and fell back asleep. In the morning, we were cleaning up, and [my friend] had a ring on, it was a snake that went in a circle, it didn’t completely close, it was open-ended on each side. We were cleaning up and she was like ‘Taylor do you see my ring?’ I was like ‘No I don’t see it, I don’t know where it is.’ We were looking everywhere for it, we laughed, packed up everything… All of a sudden I was like something’s itchy. I reached down, and I was itching, and wrapped around my bra strap was her ring as she was telling the story about her missing ring. I hadn’t changed my bra that morning, but I had changed my shirt, I had put on a new shirt. Never once had I noticed that the ring was on my bra strap until she was telling the story.” – Taylor Donnelly, Resident Director

“Before I left for the airport I locked my door to my room [in Townhouse 215] and shut it, and that’s how I thought I left it. I came back and went upstairs, and my door was wide open as if it had never been shut, but the door was still locked…[Earlier that day my roommate] Katie came home and said that it was open when she had left for work that morning, but then it had closed when [my other roommates] Ivory and Talia had gotten up. By the time I had gotten back from the airport, it opened back up.” – Emily Koswick, ’20

“Random lights [in the Theater] started turning on. It was the shop light turning on, that’s a literal switch and there was no one in there. The shop light turns on, and the loading dock light does not turn on. There’s only one way to get into the shop, and that is through the loading dock, which has a motion sensor, so the light has to turn on. It doesn’t make sense.” – Kenzie Wright, ’21

“I have a pendulum…There are many things you can practice with it, like talk to loved ones who have passed, sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. I’m still a novice. I did try to see what was going on [in Joyce fourth floor]… We tried to figure out a name, and we really couldn’t. We found out it was a good spirit, or say they say.” – Lindsey Duquette, ’21

Want to go Ghost Hunting?

Lindsay Stevens, a Paranormal Investigators of New England case manager tells us how:
“All you need to start out is an audio recorder. This has always seemed to be our biggest piece of evidence and works well.

I would however caution the choices of location. Investigating outside proves to be much harder with the natural elements, possible obstructions if investigating any place like woods, as well as an overall more creepy feeling.

I would also caution anyone who thinks about investigating their own location. This can in turn attract things into their home, and has the possibility to turn into much worse situation.

Always go with a partner, and stay in contact with one another. Most importantly always remember, it does not need to be around a holiday such as Halloween to experience activity. It happens every day, all around us.”

By Meg Friel
Executive Editor


Students, faculty and staff overwhelmingly responded to the news of white supremacy stickers being posted around campus, with an echo of incidents they have seen before.
St. Michael’s College and colleges in the surrounding area woke up the morning of Saturday, September 28, to stickers posted across campus from the white supremacy group, Patriot Front, boasting phrases such as “Reclaim America,” or “Keep America American.” This is the second time in recent years that white supremacist messages have emerged on campus. In February 2018, students found flyers posted on campus with messages saying, “It’s okay to be white.” This time, the stickers spread across campus left messages like, “Not Stolen, Conquered,” with an image of a map of the U.S. The stickers were removed immediately, says Doug Babcock, head of Public Safety, but students of color were shaken.

While these incidents were traced back to outside groups who came onto campus and also posted to other campuses in the area, many students say that microaggressions and racism occur in classrooms and in residential halls, leaving some students feeling unsafe on their own campus.

“People couldn’t sleep alone,” said co-president of the MLK Jr. Society Adrienne Rodriguez ‘21 of the 2018 incident. “We needed a buddy system. There was a group of like, 10 minorities, and we went around and took the flyers down.”

In response to the stickers incident this month ,the administration sent two emails to students, and held a community discussion on Friday Oct. 4 at 12:15, the day before October break began. About 40 students, faculty, staff and administration sat in Eddie’s Lounge, with chairs to spare. Students aired their frustration of the timing and date of the discussion, as many students had already left for their long weekend.

“I think it’s a great thing that they’re holding this meeting but listen, it’s been a week, this should’ve been done Monday. Now we’re having a meeting on Friday, but that’s when everybody’s leaving. At 12:15, who’s going to go?” Rodriguez asked.

“It just feels like nobody really cares what we’re going through,” she said. “This weekend, President Sterritt didn’t reach out to me. There’s only so much that one whole school email can do. Like, come talk to us. Come to the center [Center for Multicultural Affairs]. Show us that you care.”

President Lorraine Sterritt was present at the meeting, chiming in that “one student feeling unsafe is one student too many.” However, concrete plans as to what the administration will be doing to protect student’s safety are yet to be announced.

“With regard to students’ daily life on campus, we continue our quest for inclusion by listening, communicating, educating, and raising awareness,” Sterritt wrote in an email. “The administration cares very deeply about all our students. We want all of our students to be safe and to feel safe; to be respected and to feel respected.”

Dawn Ellinwood, Vice President for Student Affairs, chose to have the meeting on Friday as she didn’t want to postpone the meeting until after fall break.

“I wanted to gather people together to support, listen and support one another,” Ellinwood said. “I wanted the discussion to happen prior to October break and preferably earlier in the week, but I could not make it happen.”

Some students said this year’s response mimics what they saw in 2018, not only from the administration, but from the community of Saint Michael’s as a whole.

“The culture of the campus allows for those things to happen, and there’s not going to be some sort of uproar, or call for response,” said Marlon Hyde ‘21. “Everybody’s not going to immediately band together and say ‘Hey, this is wrong.’ People know that that isn’t going to happen here, especially when it comes to racism, because it doesn’t affect everyone equally.”

While the stickers demanded attention, more common microaggressions — subtle discriminations against members of a marginalized group such as a racial minorities– happen every day, Hyde said. They usually go unnoticed.

Student Safety, A Priority
Rodriguez describes Halloween of 2018, when she felt an act of discrimination was handled underwhelmingly by staff and administration.

“A student dressed up like a terrorist, wore a Muslim headdress, had an accent, a bloody axe, and wore the Koran in the other hand,” Rodriguez said. “I had multiple bias reports put in, like, in the teens. They sent him away for a weekend and moved him closer to where I’m living. They didn’t even tell him to take the costume off. He walked out of the student life office with it still on. I think that made all of my faith in the administration and public safety completely go away.”

Ellinwood said that staff works hard to try and eliminate these situations, even developing a Bias Response Team and protocol in order to try and immediately respond to situations such as these, and prevent them from happening in the future.

“Since I have been on campus, I have been working with a very dedicated group of staff and faculty on diversity, equity and inclusion on our campus,” Ellinwood said. “We have new systems in place because of this work, new systems such as the Bias Response Team and protocol. This work has been and needs to be continuous and I am dedicated to making sure our campus continues to move forward.”

The most recent published security report recorded nine race bias incidents in 2018, but only four were classified “determined.” Although these incidents are reported, students expressed at the community discussion that they feel that the topic of racial bias isn’t discussed enough.

“Student safety should always come first. Pub safe does absolutely nothing for people of color here,” Rodriguez said. “This administration just sweeps us under the rug. I get that we’re such a small percentage, but if you’re going to bring up diversity in the school, you need to freaking care.”

“I have heard students of color express their concerns and they relate other times and incidents that have also had significant effects and impacts on their feelings of safety,” Babcock said. “Many of those incidents and concerns are outside of Public Safety’s sphere of influence. We are one part of the campus, and we have our work to do, but all other areas of the college are also engaged in educating and addressing these issues for us to truly make progress.”

Microaggressions — the subtle racism
Some students of color say they experience small acts of racism and microaggressions on campus every day. Research done by the psychology departments at Marquette University and Victoria University shows a link between microaggressions and increased levels of depression and trauma among minorities.

“I was in a meeting yesterday, and we were talking about filling a position on campus,” said Associate Professor of Media Studies, Journalism, and Digital Arts Traci Griffith. “Someone else in the meeting asked where we were advertising and if we were hoping to attract diversity candidates. The response to that was, ‘Yes, we’re advertising, but we really want to make sure we get someone who’s qualified,’ – as if someone who is a diversity candidate is not qualified. There’s this element of, we need to justify, or qualify, this group of people. Those kinds of things happen all the time.”

“It’s sad to say, but it’s kind of the Saint Mike’s experience,” Hyde said, mentioning that he experiences microaggressions frequently. “Nobody cares about race or racism until an event like this happens, that’s our culture. The one thing that makes us talk about race is when we have these incidents.”

Politics and racism on campus
“I know a lot happened the last election year, so I’m kind of worried for next year,” said co-president of the Diversity Coalition Connor Vezina, ‘22. “I heard personal incidents where someone wrote ‘Trump’ on someone’s door because they were a person of color. It’s scary. This is supposed to be a place that’s safe for everyone, but that’s just a violation.”

“We like to tell ourselves that St. Mike’s is this warm, welcoming community and that people rally around each other in times of trouble and that we’re so open and welcoming to difference in our community, and I think in a large part that’s true, but I think that some people don’t always have that experience.”

“I feel the most for the students, particularly for the first years, who may not have experienced this in years past,” Griffith said.

In 2018 the full-time instructional staff at Saint Michael’s was reported to be 90 percent white, according to The Integrated PostSecondary Education Data Systems report, or IPEDS. Out of 94% of undergraduate students for which the school has race and ethnicity data, only 15.6% of those classified as a race or ethnicity other than white.

“It’s so noticeable how white this campus is,” Hyde said. “It really hits you in the face. You start to realize certain things as you go year by year. When you’re in the room, what type of music that they play vs. when you’re not in the room. Why is it that when I’m there, it’s hip hop, R&B, Drake? When I’m there, it’s a little more slang, a little more of an urban language, but when I’m not there, it’s a totally different tone.”

Microaggressions range from subtleties such as these, to students being blatantly called the n-word.

“That’s why I don’t go to parties anymore (because people call me the n-word),”said co-president of the MLK junior society Jaron Bernire, ‘21. “I only say the n-word to my black friends because we’re all black. But when I hear a white person say it, I’m like, ‘Come on. Where’s the education there?’ I have to deal with race so much more here than I did in high school. Like, three times more.”

What happens inside the classroom
People of color at Saint Mike’s feel these microaggressions extend from outside of their campus culture to inside the classrooms. From the lack of diversity within faculty, to racial bias from faculty and students, these concerns contribute to the feeling of disclusion for minorities on campus.

“Sitting in the classroom is already more than enough to realize that, this is kind of lopsided,” Hyde said. “But when topics come up, and you yourself kind of realize, ‘I might be the only one that really understands this topic on a deeper, much more personal level.’ If we’re talking about race, even if nobody looks at you, you feel like the target is on you.”

“I think I’m targeted,” Bernire said. “I’m the only black person in all of my classes, or there’s only one other minority in other classes. Whenever we talk about race in class I’m like, ‘Jesus Christ, what are these people going to say?’ I’m scared to speak up in class. I feel like that’s what the teachers and the administration wants us to do, [teach students about their race]. When I leave, they have to make the next group of black people do that. It’s just a cycle.”

Some students and faculty of color still feel as though race isn’t brought up enough in the classroom, and even when it is, it’s often not well handled.

“A lot of times in the classroom, professors and other students expect students of color to speak on behalf of all people of color, which is an unfair place to be put in,” said Vanessa Bonebo ‘21. “I don’t think that all teachers know how to handle acts of racism and discrimination in the classroom, they just brush it off. I think faculty needs to be retrained on how to handle these situations.”

Students say they often feel used for marketing, however, once they’re accepted to Saint Michael’s, they’re left in the dark.

“I feel like this school wants more money than to help out the students more,” Bernire said. “Like, you’re trying to put black or hispanic people on the brochures just to get people to come, but as soon as you get us, past orientation, they’re like, ‘We don’t have to worry about them anymore.’”

In an effort to correct this, an “engaging diverse identities” requirement was added to the LSC curriculum, and the administration is actively working to bring in faculty of color.

“If you can count the faculty of color on two hands, that’s a problem,” Griffith said. “But that’s Vermont, so I don’t know that the expectation is any different. I think we try, and I think it’s gotten better in that we definitely have more classes that address things other than Western European culture. We have an “engaging diverse identities” requirement in the curriculum, so I think we’re working at trying to decentralize or at least expand our sphere of education.”

Vezina believes that white faculty, staff, and administration may be unaware of their oblivion to microaggressions due to their lack of experience around race.

“I know they do trainings, but I think it takes a lot of personal experience to catch and understand things,” Vezina said. “I think they lack in experience because this school is predominantly white.”

“There are faculty and staff members that care about students of color very deeply, but as a whole, I’m not sure that Saint Mike’s really takes us into consideration,” said Bonebo. “We’re just a number to boost diversity, not like they actually care about us being here. ”

In order to fix the problem, administration must recognize the problem, says Vezina. Students of color can no longer stand on their own on these issues of race and microaggression.

“Part of the work that needs to be done is helping develop the tools to confront and address these situations as they occur in the world,” Babcock said. “We (as a campus) continue to push Saint Mike’s to be better and set the example in many areas but problems will still exist in the world beyond our borders.”

“I don’t think the problem comes from them being white, I think it comes from their lack of awareness,” Vezina said. “They’re white, so it doesn’t affect them in the way it does to us. I can’t fault them for it, but I wish they were more aware and more willing to speak on these matters. Everyone needs to have a voice in this situation, or nothing will change.

“It can’t just be the people of color. We’re not enough people.”

By Meg Schneider
Staff Writer

Racism can be a difficult topic to explain to kids but the St. Michael’s College Civil Rights Alliance did it when they hosted the Talking to Kids About Racism workshop with the Peace & Justice Center in Burlington last month. Educating students about the importance of tackling difficult topics is critical to the mission of CRA as the group works to build the conversation of social and racial issues on and off campus.

In the fall of 2016, hate speech that was increasing across the country was no stranger to St. Michael’s, with incidents such as students of color being called the “n word” being reported.

In response, Brianna Lambert Jenkins ’19 and Samantha Tremblay ’17 decided to create a volunteer program through MOVE that gave students the opportunity to contribute to the education and preservation of social justice.

“It was clear that we needed some group on campus dedicated to standing up for the rights of minority groups and educating our students about matters of prejudice,,” said Megan Beatty ’20, a former leader of the alliance.

The Civil Rights Alliance, is MOVE’s newest volunteer program started back in 2016. Some of the group’s upcoming events include collaborating with the Feminist Club and Uncommon Ground for an event honoring Transgender Rememberance Day; going to the Peace and Justice Center to learn about cocoa and fair trade; and an event in conjunction with the Homelessness and Hunger week.

“I think it makes our campus a more inclusive place, and certainly puts on several workshops that help educate students about matters of prejudice, so that the kind of incidents that happened in the fall of 2016 don’t happen again,” Beatty said.

The alliance is currently led by Vicky Castillo ’20, Sayde Dorian ’21, and Hayley Jenson ’22. The CRA’s first event was in the Spring of 2017 when a small group of St. Michael’s students traveled to Ohio to participate in the Boycott Wendy’s March.

“We marched to Wendy’s national headquarters with the aim of putting pressure on the decision-makers to sign onto the Fair Food Program, meaning that Wendy’s would have to pay 1 penny more per pound of tomatoes that they buy from farm workers in the United States,” Castillo explained. This was the start of MOVE’s newest program which continues to push for social justice through education, volunteering, and advocacy work.

According to the alliance’s mission statement, their goal is to maintain a community that’s inclusive and accepting, as well as to educate others about social justice movements. The Civil Rights Alliance gives students the opportunity to contribute to the activism in the Burlington and Winooski communities. In the past they have worked with other organizations such as Black Lives Matter, VT, the Peace and Justice Center in Burlington, Vermont Refugee Resettlement and Vermont Interfaith Action to develop service efforts around the area.

So far this year, the program partnered with the Peace and Justice Center to host the workshop that discussed racism with kids, Beatty explains. They also go there about once a month to help with anything the center needs,. Dorian said the alliance also worked with Vermont Interfaith Action where they wrote testimonies pushing for a raise in the minimum wage in Vermont. Other events have included the program helping the Vermont Refugee Resettlement clean and organize their place.

“We are trying to make it so conversations about justice issues are not something people are trying to avoid. We are trying to make people feel more comfortable while having these conversations,” Dorian said, adding that creating a space where people can have these conversations and a positive atmosphere around social and racial justice issues is important

By Marlon Hyde
Contributing Writer

When I was first thinking about getting tattoos I wanted them to tell my story. I have three tattoos –currently, a hyacinth bush, roses and the New York skyline. A hyacinth Bush to pay tribute to my grandma, Roses to symbolize my hometown Rosedale, NY in Queens and a lion to symbolize Jamaica the land where my culture comes from. Beyond the skin-deep ink, they have become part of me, helping me feel more confident. I’m hardly alone in my feelings here. According to recent Pinterest data, searches for “self-love tattoos” grew 1320 percent compared to last year, and psychologically, it totally makes sense. I had my first tattoo a year ago during October break. I had recently lost a friend at UVM and was under pressure from academics to my home life, so I did what any rational person would do; I made a tattoo appointment.

Body art is having a moment. Once the venue of sailors and bikers and fashion statements within popular culture, tattoos now offer a kind of alternative therapy, adding something unique to the evolving conversation around mental health.

A tattoo while suffering through depression won’t instantly fix everything, but the dose of positivity a tattoo can help contribute to better body positivity and fight depression and anxiety.

“One of the most noxious aspects of mental illness and psychological suffering is that it often, and at least initially, makes people feel out of control and passive,”said New York City psychologist Heather Sylvester, in a Byrdie interview. “A mental health-related tattoo can serve to flip the equation because you are affirmatively engaging your own psychological struggle,” Not only that, but they can be helpful down the road.

Lorant Peeler works at the University of Michigan’s Spectrum Center, hosting events that showcase LGBTQ+ students.

My tattoos were spurred by depression and anxiety heightened at times by the loss of my friend to suicide. I felt that I needed to do something for me. I wanted to affirm a new beginning. The whizzing of the tattoo gun sounded attractive. Staring in the mirror imagining how it would look, lost and empty despair transformed into excitement.

During these times, when I was grasping for something to control, getting meaningful images etched onto my skin felt powerful. Sitting in that chair and getting ink under my skin allowed me to see a version of self I love the most, the one that makes me feel more like me.

For other people, tattoos can represent a more long-term or severe struggle with mental illness.

The stories behind many of these tattoos include intense struggles and pain. During recovery, mental health-related tattoos can aid in being helpful reminders to continue to push.

“My first tattoo was inspired by my family. They were crucial when it came to me teaching myself to enjoy more in life,” said Josh Dionne ‘20,

“It makes me feel like I have more power over my body,” Dionne said. “I’ve always been self-conscious about taking my shirt off and when I had to take off my shirt for my first tattoo it was surreal.” His tattoos have helped him become more comfortable in his skin connecting the outside world and his bare skin. “It brought me into a community of people that have a more holistic sense of body image. It helped open up a dialogue that made it easier to talk about how I felt in my own skin,” said Josh. He felt less exposed.

“I was ushered into a new community that allowed me to heal and grow as a person,” he added.

Josh Dionne’s tattoo was inspired by him wanting to always remember to try to do better and to not compare himself to others.

Tattoos that symbolize mental health have taken off . One common tattoo is the molecular structure for serotonin. “I got the chemical molecule of serotonin tattooed behind my right ear one year after being diagnosed with depression and anxiety. It is the chemical in your brain that makes you happy and if you have low amounts of it then different mental health issues can occur,” said Kelsey Nudd ‘21,

According to, “A semicolon tattoo is a tattoo of the semicolon punctuation mark used as a message of affirmation and solidarity against suicide, depression, addiction, and other mental health issues”. The semicolon represents a brush with suicide–a sentence that the inked person could have ended but ultimately chose to continue. It stands as a symbol of the darkest of moments, but also of “hope and continuation.”

The semicolon tattoo ,usually small and subtle makes a difference to those who have it.

Tattoos displaying different gender identities and sexualities have also become more popular. Laying atop Lorant Peeler’s, a recent graduate at Eastern Michigan University, shoulder lies a succulent with the words “still growing” alongside it. While on their other shoulder, a modified version of the symbol for agender people along with their pronouns in their best friend’s handwriting paints their skin. What inspired Peeler’s tattoos were their identities. “I really wanted something to affirm my identity as a non-binary/agender person”.

“No matter how the world perceives me, I have a reminder of who I am permanently in my skin.”

“The succulent I got this summer after a pretty bad few months mental health-wise. I was in a rut and couldn’t do anything to better myself” said Peeler. They felt the need for some change. The succulent meant a new beginning filled with self-love.

The succulent also serves as a reminder to Peeler that, “Even if I can’t care for my body correctly all the time, the attention I can give it will keep me going,”

Demery Coppola, ‘21 has three tattoos. Her jellyfish tattoo stems from her appreciation for the boneless sea creature’s ability to adapt to the dangerous conditions of global warming and benefit from it. The olive branch on her right wrist plays on the phrase extending an olive branch which can be commonly seen as a gesture of peace.

“The forget-me-nots remind me of when I lost my virginity and didn’t really want to,” she said

It was the day before Coppola’s high school orientation. She did not know about having rights to her body and was taken advantage of by someone she trusted. She figured he must know what to do and that this must be normal. It took her until last year to confront that and come to terms with it. “I got forget-menots on my hip so if someone ever tries to take advantage of me like that, or any other way, I’m going to remember myself,” she added.

The tattoo helps with making peace with herself and moving on, she said. “It’s such a comforting reminder to look down [at the tattoo] and know that I had that realization and can move forward from it,” she said as a smile grew larger on her face. The unifying theme between these stories appears to be control. Getting a tattoo can be a declaration of authority. As to say, I am the captain of this ship, my body, and my mental health. It can also be a reminder that not having that control is okay too.

“The forget-me-nots remind me of when I lost my virginity and didn’t really want to,” she said

It was the day before Coppola’s high school orientation. She did not know about having rights to her body and was taken advantage of by someone she trusted.

She figured he must know what to do and that this must be normal. It took her until last year to confront that and come to terms with it. “I got forget-menots on my hip so if someone ever tries to take advantage of me like that, or any other way, I’m going to remember myself,” she added.

The tattoo helps with making peace with herself and moving on, she said. “It’s such a comforting reminder to look down [at the tattoo] and know that I had that realization and can move forward from it,” she said as a smile grew larger on her face.

The unifying theme between these stories appears to be control. Getting a tattoo can be a declaration of authority. As to say, I am the captain of this ship, my body, and my mental health. It can also be a reminder that not having that control is okay too.

The first annual Defender fall photo contest captured what autumn means to people in the St. Michael’s College community. The images displayed on this page represent the top three photo’s submitted to The Defender on Instagram. Thank you to all who participated.

“The amazing sunsets I see in fall on the Champlain shore always makes Vermont feel like home.” -Hannah Wilmot,’21

“When I think of fall, I think of Vermont.”-Mary Hay, ’20
When Rachel Proctor, ’17, thinks of fall she said she thinks of “leaving the office for the weekend during peak leaf peeping, and the perfect lighting.”
Photo by Jessie Anderson, ’21
To me fall means a time of reflection and gathering of inner peace through watching sunsets.

By Molly Humiston
Staff Writer

Your head feels trapped in an impenetrable fog; maybe it’s a head cold, maybe it’s something more, but either way you’ve gone from class to class, building to building, trying to shake it until your feet, or your internal parent’s nags, land you in the waiting room of Bergeron Wellness Center.

You’re not sure you really want to be there, but in your hands is a single page survey, it’s not even double-sided, asking a simple question through a handful of others: How are you doing?

With a student body of roughly 1,700, nearly half go to Bergeron annually for both student health and personal counseling. According to Mary Masson, the Director of Health Services, 1,588 students have already been to Bergeron this year alone.

This year brought two primary changes for students at Bergeron: increased walk-in availability for all counselors and a Brief Health Screen, which is a general survey completed by all students who make an appointment. The latter offers the Bergeron staff insight into how the student is doing and what might be affecting them beyond what the appointment was made for.

“I think it gives a holistic view of the patient that’s coming in, so whether it be for a counseling appointment or a visit with a nurse practitioner, they can know what outside influences are in the student’s life that may alter their plan of treatment,” said Talia Torkomian ’21, who has gone to Bergeron for both of their services.

The survey screens for substance use, mood, partner violence, and bias, said Kathy Butts, director of counseling, adding that it allows for a greater depth of care in getting to know the student and the outside factors they are dealing with.

It can be “an opportunity to open up a conversation about the fact that [the student] may need something more than the physical issue that brought them initially,” Butts said.

The use of these surveys creates an opportunity to provide the student with a greater benefit through a discussion of their options, both on campus and off, if they need it. “I’ve heard that other people have problems, but I’ve gone for several different reasons and each time has led me in a better direction than beforehand,” said Claire Scherf ’20, who has primarily used the counseling services at Bergeron. She, like other students, was unaware of the walk-in changes, but noted the difficulty some students may have in making appointments “I think it’s a hard thing to initialize, but…you have more choices, flexibility.”
In addition to the change in availability of counselors and the Brief Health Screen, there are two more surveys to be aware of. One is every few weeks through Survey Monkey to a selection of students who have gone to Bergeron to assess general satisfaction, and one will be sent at the end of the semester to those who used the counseling services for feedback on the changes made.

Both surveys offer students the opportunity to provide Bergeron with direct information on what worked and what didn’t, so that services can be better tailored to the needs of students.

By Talia Perrea
Visionary Editor

Bras. They’re expensive. They can be uncomfortable. And more often than not they are annoying. It’s not just the process of putting a bra on that can be annoying. It’s the whole concept, and it’s one more way that sets women back economically.

The fact that some people carry around anywhere from five to 23 pounds (if not more) on their chest is frankly unfair. So the concept of a bra was created to make life easier and became a societal norm. But why is something considered a necessity to some, so darn uncomfortable and expensive?

Men currently earn about $23,300 more than women when both parties have bachelor degrees.

Talia Perrea ’20

To find a super comfortable, and supportive bra comes at a plus-size price– $65 or over, a price that is highly marked up. Women’s clothing in general is more expensive than men’s. A study done by New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs found that women pay 15 percent more for shirts, 13 percent more for dress shirts,
and 10 percent more for jeans. The bra comes as an added expense.

It doesn’t end there. Women on average pay more for shampoo and conditioner, body wash, deodorant, girl’s bookbags, bicycles, helmets and padding, toys, medical items such as braces, and canes according to the study. Despite the fact that women are being charged more for basic necessities, women still make less than men in every sector. Why are women charged more? Why aren’t we pushing back? How are companies and businesses getting away with this outrageous inequality?

And consider that the “luxury” tax, also known as the tampon tax still exists in certain states. Women are being forced to pay more for an item that they need to use if they don’t want to risk ruining their clothes.

It’s 2019 and we’re still facing a gender inequality in the most intimate of places…our breasts, and our vaginas. women now make up slightly more than 50 percent of the college-educated workforce, according to a study by the Pew Research Center This development could finally lead to a decrease in the wage gap. Men currently earn about $23,300 more than women when both parties have bachelor degrees. But if our basic necessities are expensive, that pay gap still exists.

I may only represent the voice of a cis white female, but if the world is unfair for me, then imagine the people who struggle on a daily basis.

So a bra might be a strange place to start, but it’s a place. If we could change the way bras are marketed and priced in modern day corporate America, then we have the power to change anything. And corporate America, if you’re reading this: make bras more comfortable and affordable, cause I’m tired of this nonsense.

By Haeleigh Lange
Staff Writer

When Abigail “Abby” Bozzuti, ’22, was 4 years old, she was bitten by a tick while living with her family in Bethel, CT, which is about a half an hour away from Lyme, CT, where the first official cases of Lyme disease occurred. She soon developed joint pain, migraines, and sensitivity to light and noise. “I went to countless doctor’s appointments, had blood drawn repeatedly, and I had an EEG (Electroencephalogram) and an MRI performed. The biggest thing was trying to convince doctors that it wasn’t in my head. Many wanted to write off my symptoms as physical manifestations of anxiety and depression,” Bozzuti said.

She suffered for 13 years without being treated for Lyme disease. “My biggest symptoms were chronic fatigue, severe joint pain, brain fog, migraines, temperature, light and noise sensitivity, POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome,) anxiety, and nausea/stomach pain,” she added.

Lyme disease is on the rise in New England, and Vermont is the second most populous Lyme disease case state in the country, with approximately 78 cases for every 100,000 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

“Vermont has had increasingly hard struggles with Lyme disease spreading,” said Brad Richards, media consultant of the Vermont Department of Health.“The people living here are some of the most likely to get it across the entire country due to the fact that Vermont is within the black-legged or deer ticks’ habitat, which are the ticks
that carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease,” he said.

Bottuzi said she went from a straight-A student, to one who barely graduated high school. To recover from her body trying to fight off Lyme disease, she had to take a gap year before going to college to be mentally and physically rested. She has suffered with the consequences of going untreated for Lyme disease and Post Treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS) and still suffers from adrenal fatigue.

To prevent Lyme disease, Eben Widlund, Assistant Director of the Adventure Sports Center at St. Michael’s College, recommends checking your
body for ticks while you are taking a shower or getting dressed in the morning. Even if you’re not going hiking or mountain climbing, there is a chance that a tick can bite you just walking to work or school, so checking for them regularly can save you from having to go through contracting Lyme disease and treating it.

According to the CDC, the medication used to treat Lyme disease, which are the most common medications, are Doxycycline and Tetracycline, can cause someone to have digestive issues, super-sun sensitivity, muscle aches, fatigue, etc. Some people don’t feel the side effects of Lyme disease after being
treated, but others can experience Post Treatment Lyme disease syndrome, also known as PTLDS. PTLDS is when a patient experiences the symptoms of Lyme disease after months or years after being treated or even for the rest of their lives, the reason why patients experience this is unknown.

Widlund also explained that it takes at least 24 to 48 hours after having a tick on you to get Lyme disease transmission. Even if you get the symptoms of Lyme disease, it does not always mean you have it. The only way to accurately detect whether or not you have Lyme disease is by going to the doctor and getting blood tests done.

There are two common blood tests that doctors use to distinguish whether or not someone just has the flu or if they have Lyme disease. If you get a negative on the first blood test, then you are almost guaranteed not to have Lyme disease, but if the first test comes back positive, then you will have to go back and get another blood test and that one will determine whether or not you truly have Lyme disease.

Going outside, hiking and doing activities can still be safe activities, as long as you check your body every time you are done going outside into nature. By checking for ticks so frequently, you can make sure that if
you do have a tick on you, you don’t surpass that 24 to 48 hours window that passes the bacterium into your bloodstream that causes you to contract Lyme disease. If you do find a tick on you, but you are sure that it was on you less than 24 hours, for the next few days after you pulled the tick off, be aware of how your body is acting. If you are developing flu-like symptoms, or even get a bull’s eye rash, then it doesn’t always mean you have Lyme disease, as Widlund explained, it could just mean you are getting the flu or another common cold. But if you don’t develop any of these symptoms after pulling off a tick, then you can almost be sure that you don’t have Lyme disease, but if you want to be certain, then you can go to the doctors and get the blood tests done.

“My body was so worn out from fighting Lyme that my adrenal system pretty much crashed. I’m a lot better than I was, but I get tired more quickly than usual and I have to allocate my energy carefully if I have a lot going on at any given time. Every once in a while I’ll have flareups of joint pain,” Bozzuti said, when referring to her state now after not being treated for Lyme disease for 13 years.