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October 2021

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By Ashley DeLeon

Executive Editor

adeleon@mail.smcvt.edu

Reported cases of sexual violence at Vermont colleges declined in 2020, new Clery Act reports revealed. College administrators statewide speculate that COVID-19 restrictions and new Title IX regulations may be responsible. Experts add that underreporting has always been a prevalent issue in higher education. 

“What we’re missing is actually talking to survivors and hearing their experiences of either what led them to report or not,” said Catherine Welch, assistant dean of students and Title IX coordinator at St. Michael’s College.

The Clery Act requires higher education institutions to report campus crime data, provide support to victims of violence and outline current policies to improve campus safety, according to the Clery Center website.

St. Michael’s reported five cases of sexual violence in 2019 and only one in 2020. 

With less socialization on campus due to COVID-19 restrictions, Welch said that people were likely more cognizant of who they were surrounded by. 

“There are some hypotheses of students interacting less with a peripheral crowd as opposed to two, three or four really close friends… We didn’t see larger instances of socialization where we have seen sexual violence occur,” she said.

At the University of Vermont, 42 percent of 11,800 students live on campus. The administration reported a combined 24 cases of on and off-campus sexual violence in 2019 and 12 in 2020. 

Champlain College reported zero cases of sexual violence in 2020. Communications Director Sandy Yusen said a decreased on-campus student population due to COVID-19 may be responsible.

“Champlain had 42 percent fewer students on our campus last year, so we believe Champlain’s experiences are similar to what we are seeing nationally,” she said. 

A study from the National Student Clearinghouse reported that private, non-profit four year institutions experienced a 0.6 percent enrollment decline in Fall 2020. Private, for-profit institutions experienced a 2.1 percent decrease.

The Association of American Universities has not released data on national trends of sexual violence for 2020. 

Julia Bernard, vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion at Norwich University echoed Yusen’s statement. 

At Norwich, sexual offenses declined from 15 cases in 2019 to five cases in 2020. The institution reported an undergraduate student population of 3,200 people. 

“Students at Norwich University were sent home after spring break in Spring 2020, so that accounts for much of the decrease in reporting. In the fall of 2020, there were a lower number of students on campus and strict quarantine/social distancing regulations in place,” she said.

However, Bernard highlighted that recent changes in Title IX regulations, alongside COVID-19 restrictions, made it difficult to decipher whether or not students were unwilling to report and move forward with a complaint.

The U.S. Department of Education released new Title IX regulations on May 6, 2020 under the Trump administration to codify how federally funded institutions must respond to sex discrimination, and integrate “even-handed” justice for the accused.

“The regulation prescribes a transparent grievance process that treats the accused as innocent until proven guilty, requires the school to state a standard of evidence, and requires the school to provide a written decision and rationale,” according to the department website. The rationale is to ensure that institutions do not inflict long-standing harm against students before providing fair and basic procedures.

“I think everyone was concerned that they would have decreased the number of reports,” Bernard said. 

She also explained that Norwich shifted all investigations to a virtual setting during the pandemic along with student trainings on sexual violence prevention and reporting. Sexual harassment trainings and virtual discussions about consent and healthy relationships were also offered last spring.

Cases of sexual violence at Northern Vermont University declined from two reported cases in 2019 to one in 2020. 

Middlebury College reported seven cases of sexual violence in 2020 compared to 18 in 2019, according to the Middlebury Clery report. 

Sarah Robinson, deputy director of the Vermont Network Against Sexual & Domestic Violence, said she is not surprised by current data trends.

“It doesn’t necessarily surprise me that schools are reporting fewer cases. But it would be a mistake to assume that there has been lower prevalence of sexual assault,” she said.

Robinson has been employed at the organization for nearly a decade and was promoted to deputy director in 2018. 

“In terms of campus reporting, you know that survivors make really thoughtful decisions about whether that is helpful for their sense of justice and healing,” Robinson said. She also noted a prevalence of survivor anecdotes where needs were allegedly unmet after campus Title IX proceedings or police reports were filed. 

“There’s just an incredible amount of work that still remains for all institutions of higher education in Vermont, to ensure that not only that there are robust sexual violence prevention efforts, but also that the response that survivors receive is victim centered,” Robinson said.

For sexual violence resources or support, the HOPE Works hotline is available 24/7 at 802-863-1236. 

The data provided from 2021 Clery Act reports can be found on the websites of each college.

By Lochlan Sheridan

Staff writer

lsheridan@mail.smcvt.edu

The 2020-2021 academic year’s food service was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, requiring students to eat with single-use compostable take out containers, cups, and utensils from the dining hall. While these convenient products allowed for close CDC compliance, their environmental impact and usage on the St. Michael’s College farm for growing produce was left unclear.

Sam Belanger ’22 head of OVE (Outdoor Volunteer Efforts) which is a club focused on volunteering to help maintain the college’s farm and surrounding environment, spent this past summer working full-time on the farm. This opportunity gave him a first-hand look into the inner workings of the college’s composting system, and how our disposal efforts from the last academic year might have been less successful as perhaps anticipated. “We do not use the compost that we generated from last year,” Belanger said. “It is something that would be nice to incorporate, but a lot of that stuff is going to take much longer to break down.” 

The College’s large-scale composting efforts can be found near the natural area across Route 15. Within the compost is a portion of the waste generated from last year’s single-use containers. However, much of the waste generated was actually non compostable, Belanger explained. “There is a lot of plastics and pollution in the pile, so I don’t think there will be a situation where that can be used as full grade compost for the farm,” he said. 

While specific bins separated trash from compost throughout campus last year, too much trash and plastic had been mixed with the compostable waste. “Every college in the country was thrust into using compost and that was really our only option,” said Kristyn Achilich, director of the Center for the Environment and instructor of environmental studies and science. “We had to scale up our compost hauling situation by working with a local company, Casella Resource Solutions, to take that waste and create a sustainable financial contract,” Achilich said. 

Any school in the state of Vermont that is growing food for consumption must maintain a food safety certification and use certified compost, according to the Vermont Department of Food Services and Agriculture. 

Photos by Minqi Kong
Top: Jess Edmonds ‘22, Farm Leadership – Crop & Field Coordinator (right), collects crops on Sept. 15.
Above: Juana Lopez ‘22 a student from ES 225 Food Systems & Sustainable Agriculture, picks tomatoes on Sept. 15.

“There is no way that we can use our onsight compost for the farm,” Achilich said. “One thing we can do, however, is use kitchen scraps from Green Mountain Dining Hall to fertilize the landscape, renovate the [Townhouse 300s] field, and mulch trees or bushes.” 

Although it is an extensive effort school wide, the compost system located in the natural area is not certified by the state of Vermont. Due to this inconvenience, the college is severely limited in its ability to recycle and decompose waste, Achilich further added. “While the farm uses a ton of compost from an outside provider, Vermont Compost Company, there is no connection between the compost we make as a college and what we use on the farm,” she said.

Compost from the previous academic year is too contaminated for certified use, but the St. Michael’s farm has been pushing for a successful harvest from this year’s growing season. There is a staffed open-air farm stand outside Cafe Cheray every Thursday from 1:30-5:15 p.m. and a self-serve stand in St. Edmunds hall whenever fresh produce is available. 

Along with the two stands, the farm also supplies the Green Mountain Dining Hall with certain vegetables like mixed greens or tomatoes and runs a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). The CSA is a program that allows students, faculty members, and alumni to pay a base price in exchange for crops from this year’s harvest. 

Aside from growing produce for the St. Michael’s community, the farm welcomes students to assist with various jobs and experience working on the farm. Robbie Sinibaldi ’24 was enrolled in Professor Christina Root’s American Environmental Imagination first-year seminar, and experienced class trips to the farm every Friday last fall. “It was a very cool experience helping out at the farm,” Sinibali said.  “I got the chance to do things I’ve never done before such as plant tomatoes, pluck pumpkins and learn about the whole operation they have going on.” 

Owen Renehan ’24, a fellow classmate of Sinibaldi, had a similar experience on his Friday trips to the farm. “Going to the farm was always a nice break from the classroom,” Renehan said. “Although we were still learning and working hard, the farm is a very relaxing place that always helped clear my head.” 

Any members of the St. Michael’s community who are interested in joining the farm or learning about what they do can join the Outdoor Volunteer Efforts group every Friday at the farm from 2-5 p.m.. The farm is located on Observatory Lane, next to the St. Michael’s Fire and Rescue station, and requires a two minute walk down a small trail. 

“The core of the farm is the farm program which is a four-course series,” Achilich said. “Students who are very invested have the opportunity to stay on campus throughout the summer and work full time on the farm,” she said. There are farm programs for everyone on campus whether you are interested in a full-time position or just want to help out and learn about how it works. 

For further details check out the farms Canvas page or contact kachilich@smcvt.edu or sbelanger@mail.smcvt.edu

Illustration by Kaela MacLaughlin
More than a year into the discovery of COVID-19, a new semester begins after vaccines are widely available to the public.

By Isabella Paredes

Staff Writer

aparedesmend@mail.smcvt.edu

Higher education institutions in Vermont have taken the initiative to require COVID-19 vaccinations for students. 98.2 percent of students at St. Michael’s College provided evidence of vaccination, according to President Lorraine Sterritt in an email.

The United States hit 42 million COVID-19 cases as of Sept. 20, 2021, according to the CDC. 181 million people have been fully vaccinated nationwide. Vermont accounts for 445,100 of these vaccinations. According to the Vermont Department of Health, 87.2 percent of Vermonters 12 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine. This makes Vermont the state with the highest percentage of its population fully vaccinated in the country.

In Gov. Scott’s weekly press briefing on Sept. 14, Michael Pieciak, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation, discussed the impact of vaccinations on higher education campuses. Chittenden County, where St. Michael’s College and other institutions are located, reported a higher number of cases than last week. “For these three weeks of school, the cases are much lower than what we experienced in the spring of 2021,” he said.  According to Pieciak, the high vaccination rates across campuses are making a big difference.

The University of Vermont required all entering or returning students to be fully vaccinated this fall, according to the college website. Champlain College required students to upload their COVID-19 vaccination records online.

Without proof of vaccination or exemption status, Norwich University students are not permitted on campus, in residence halls, or in classes. To be permitted on campus, students must agree to vaccination or petition for a medical or religious exemption, according to their website.

Earlier this month, President Joe Biden announced new initiatives about COVID-19 vaccine requirements. The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing a rule that will require all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated, or require any workers who remain unvaccinated to produce a negative test result on a weekly basis according to the official White House website. To implement this requirement, OSHA will issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS).

At St. Michael’s College, all employees are required to inform Human Resources of their vaccination status, President Sterritt explained.

Human Resources Generalist Cameron Farnsworth indicated that 446 out of 454 active St. Michael’s employees (excluding student employees) submitted Vaccination Attestation responses.

President Sterritt said that the school is still in the process of collating and collecting employee vaccination data. As of Sept. 13, 98 percent of employees who had submitted their information are vaccinated. “When the ETS is issued, we will enact it for the small number of employees who are currently unvaccinated,” she said.

Despite the high vaccination rates on campus, Patricia Siplon, professor of political science and director of public health, reinforced the importance of taking other precautionary measures. She believes that a high vaccination rate is a foundational level of safety, but is not exclusively the only thing a community can do to stay safe. “It is very important to keep in mind that it is perhaps the best mitigation step that we can take, but at the same time is not the only mitigation step we can take,” she said. According to Siplon, mask compliance is important.

Siplon also highlighted the importance of being aware of rising cases and hospitalizations in Vermont. “Some tools are no longer mandatory, but that does not mean we should stop using them,” she said. “Employees go home every night, students leave campus and then come back.”

As vaccination rates rise, people are slowly going back to their pre-pandemic lifestyles. “As science tells us, vaccinations help with symptoms,” said Dawn Ellinwood, vice president for student affairs and dean of students. “It allows students, faculty, and staff to have a different experience on campus,” she said.

Ellinwood highlighted differences from last year, when COVID-19 vaccines were not available to the general public, whereas now the campus is mostly vaccinated. “Just the fact that we have athletic teams is a big difference. Adventure sports are out and running. It’s very different from last year,” she said.

Ellinwood also discussed the shift to in-person classes this semester. “Most classes are in person now, and we know that for most people, it is a better way of learning. That is a big change,”  she said.

Members of the College community expressed their opinions on the high vaccination rates. “I believe that a high percentage of the people I work here with and students are vaccinated so I feel safer,” said Robert DiMasi, Alliot dining hall supervisor.

Students also shared their thoughts on the school’s high vaccination rates. “As an international student, I can say that I feel safer here because of the high rate of vaccinated people. Back at home, only people [aged] 35 and above could get the vaccine,” said Walter Ortiz ‘25, Peruvian student at St. Michael’s.  

Though most of the campus is vaccinated, Ellinwood stressed the importance of monitoring symptoms. “Whether you’re vaccinated or not, if you have symptoms, please go be checked at Bergeron Wellness Center,” she said.

She also highlighted the importance of caring for the community. “As much as we take care of ourselves, this is about the health and wellness of all our community: students, staff, and faculty,” she said.

Visual by Charles Wilson
Admissions data from 2015 to 2020 with estimates from 2021 provided by Office of Institutional Research. Incoming class does not include transfer students or first-time students enrolled only part time in fall term.

By Connor Torpey

Staff Writer

ctorpey@mail.smcvt.edu

St. Michael’s College enrollment has consistently declined over the past five academic years. According to institutional research data provided by Mary Jane Russel, associate CIO at the College, the total number of enrolled students from 2015 to 2021 decreased from 2367 to 1724 students. The decline in enrollment has also impacted the total class sections offered at the College, dropping from 434 total classes to 327 in 2020. The number of full-time instructors dropped from 147 in 2015 to 113 in 2020 according to this same data provided.

The University of Vermont, however, has recently claimed that their first year class of 2025 is their largest in its history, publicly announcing that statement in their fall semester news release earlier this month and displaying their numbers on their institutional research page through their website. 

Kristin McAndrew, vice president of enrollment and marketing at Saint Michael’s College, explained recent enrollment trends in a recent interview.

Q: Why has student enrollment at the College recently declined?

COVID-19 had an enormous impact on our new student enrollment. For the first time in my career, admission professionals around the country canceled their recruitment travel last year. We did not visit high schools or attend in-person college fairs, and we transitioned from on-campus open houses to virtual events. We are grateful to the State and to the leaders on campus who guided us through the past year. As a result of the policies and restrictions that were imposed on all of us, Vermont has fared relatively well in terms of the virus, but those same restrictions that kept us safe meant that we did not allow visitors on campus during most of the enrollment cycle. At St. Mike’s, where approximately 75% of our students come from out of state, that campus visit is critical. In a traditional year, approximately 50% of our accepted students would have visited campus, and this year, less than 20% were able to visit.

Q: Has increased class sizes at UVM impacted student enrollment at St. Michael’s College?

Not in a significant way. Many students apply both to Saint Michael’s College and UVM, and later in the school year we will have the opportunity to analyze where our admitted students enrolled using data from the National Clearinghouse. This year we did see an increase in the percentage of Vermonters in the incoming class.

Q: What is UVM doing differently from St. Michael’s that led to a larger class size?

I can’t comment directly on UVM’s strategies, but many colleges and universities around the country saw a sizable application increase this year because they went “test score optional” for the first time. In fact, the same thing happened here at Saint Michael’s College ten years ago, when we made the decision to stop requiring SATs and ACTs. That year, we saw an increase of more than a thousand applications over the prior year.

Q: Has in-person only class offerings impacted our enrollment?

That is difficult to measure, as it impacts enrollment in both directions. Online and hybrid course offerings are certainly desirable for some students. For others, online learning in high school was a negative experience, and a return to in-person learning was an important factor in their decision-making.

Q: Did we lose any students who were already enrolled? If so, how many and why?

Every year, some students will make the decision to pause their education or to transfer to another college, for a wide variety of reasons. This past year was particularly difficult for some students and the reasons were just as varied, but we saw no significant increase in the number of students who did not return this fall when compared to previous years.

Q: How has this impacted average financial aid offerings to students?

The College’s financial aid model changed very little from the prior year – our focus is always to direct our resources to attract outstanding students and to help make St. Mike’s affordable for families across a broad spectrum of financial need. In addition to institutional financial aid, the Student Financial Services team has spent countless hours working to distribute additional federal assistance to our students with the most need in the form of Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds provided through the CARES Act and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.

Q: What are the College’s plans, if any, to raise enrollment in the future?

Our goal is to enroll 420 new first year students in the year ahead. It is an ambitious goal, but our Admission team is now able to travel to visit high schools in our primary recruitment areas. We are also now able to host in-person visitors and hold in-person events. We have also redoubled our advertising and communications efforts to try to reach more students who would flourish here.

Q: What other comments or information would you like to provide?

Our current students are our best ambassadors, and we are grateful to all the tour guides, Founders Society members, and every individual who welcomes our visitors and shares the Saint Michael’s College story.

By Chase Schomp

Staff Writer

cschomp@mail.smcvt.edu

Clubs are back in session at St. Michael’s College. The Student Government Association (SGA) sponsored a Welcome Back Bash and club fair on Sept. 11, the first major event of this year. The SGA combined the Welcome Back Bash which featured games, live music, and food trucks, with the annual club fair that advertised clubs to the student body. 

Student club representatives encouraged their peers to explore the many clubs and organizations available at the College. 

In-person club meetings were suspended in 2020 due to COVID-19, meaning most clubs have not met on campus in 10 months. 

PHOTOS BY CHASE SCHOMP
Saint Michael’s College held a joint Club Fair and Welcome Back Bash in the main quad on Sept. 11. Students can check out clubs and organizations sanctioned by the school on campus.

“We are able to return to a little bit of normalcy [and] we really wanted to encourage students to come together as a community, after such a tough year last year,” said Jeremy Little ’23, event worker and secretary of student policy for the Student Government Association. The event also introduced first-years and sophomores for the first time, as this event did not happen last year. 

Meghan Geouque, vice president of the SGA, hopes that clubs can operate in pre-pandemic conditions this year. “We are going back in person, our SGA meetings will be in person, and clubs can meet in person now too, so we are hoping it will look like pre-covid,” she said. Many of the club representatives were thrilled to have this event to showcase their clubs to the student body. 

Connor Starr ’23, club representative for ShredMC skiing and snowboarding club, said, “We are really looking forward to this year and we just really want to get the club back, and grow it.” Starr also said he hopes to grow the group more than in years past, and this year without COVID restrictions they hope to grow it for future years. 

The same feelings were felt by Ethan Li ‘22, photography club secretary. “Last year our photo club was closed, and we could not have people in the darkroom,” Li Said. “I feel our club [is] alive again.” .

Students like Jack Hurley ‘23, said the club fair last year was not as exciting. “I came to the club fair last year and it was a lot less exciting, just in terms that it was just the club tables, and I didn’t see nearly as many people, or any of the food,” he said. This year, he stayed at the club fair longer than he did last fall and spent quality time with his friends.

This was the first major in-person event of the SGA this year, and many underclassmen were introduced to clubs and organizations for the first time.

By Cassidy Koons

Staff Writer

ckoons@mail.smcvt.edu

Katie Escobedo ‘23 poses with her parents, sister and grandmother on Sept.11 after the women’s soccer game at Pace University in New York.
PHOTO COURTESY OF KATIE ESCOBEDO

The St. Michael’s women’s soccer team played against Pace University in New York City on the 20th anniversary of 9/11. We had the honor to play in memory of those who were killed, and families who were impacted by the attacks.

Our hotel breakfast consisted of sharing stories about what we remembered learning in school, and the impact this important day has had on our lives. I shared a story I heard back in high school about a 9/11 hero who wore a red bandana and saved lives before falling to the towers. He was a new employee at the towers who guided people up and down the stairs, solely identified by his red bandana, after the first strike on the towers. The red bandana was recovered and is now displayed in the 9/11 museum for people to visit.  

The TV channel was turned to the news, covering the first events and memorial events of 9/11 in New York City.

Upon our arrival to the field, the team silently walked down the hill. After our coach sat the team in a circle, we had a moment of silence to remember those we had lost. The stone bench we sat on circled the American flag, making for a powerful moment. 

Katie Escobedo ‘23, a goalkeeper for the team, lives 30 minutes outside the city in Westchester, New York. Her dad was a firefighter who served as a secondary responder to the fallen towers, and also participated in search and rescue efforts for many weeks after 9/11. 

“With gameday on 9/11, that was who I played for – all the innocent lives lost to terrorism worldwide and all the heroes who went to do their best,” Escobedo said. Throughout the entirety of the game, I could hear her voice booming from behind me and could tell that she brought her heart onto the field that day. 

Katie Hansen ‘25, a defender for the team, is from New Jersey and her parents worked in the city on 9/11. They lost many people who were close to them. 

“My family moved to the [New Jersey] shore after [9/11] to get away from the city,” she said. 

Maggie Varley ‘23, a midfielder for the team, mentioned a quote impactful to her that has stuck with me since the game on Saturday: “No day will erase you from the memory of time.” She said that many of her classmates had lost parents in the towers, and she reminisced on the impact the city had on that fateful day. The strength and courage of the city is the reason we will never forget 9/11.

When we first entered the field, it was empty as the sun shined down on the turf. I felt truly alone, yet in the moment as the meaning of the day sat in the pit of my stomach. My heart started to race as the announcer’s voice boomed over the speaker and we walked out to the center of the field. 

After the announcer introduced the starting lineup, we had a moment of silence before the national anthem for those who died in the towers. The Purple Knights came to play that day and won over Pace University. Every player who stepped foot on the pitch left their heart on the field and came out with a gritty 1-0 lead that would seal our victory.  

As soon as I found out I was playing a game on 9/11, I thought it would be an inspiring story in our St. Michael’s community. Over the past few years, I feel as if 9/11 has been looked over in the schools I have attended based on the geography of where I live. I thought it would be important to reflect upon this day, especially since it was the 20th anniversary of a major turning point in American history.

Writing about this game and its significance to my team has shown me that you never truly know what someone else is going through. Many of my teammates were directly impacted by the fall of the twin towers and they hold that with them to this day. Because I live in Maine, I was never impacted by the event in the same way as those who live near New York City. 9/11 has shown me that no matter what you go through, you can come out stronger and braver than ever before.

By Kaela MacLaughlin

Arts, Culture & Design Editor

kmaclaughlin@mail.smcvt.edu

Students at the McCarthy Art Gallery on Sept. 9 in Colchester VT. Daniela Rivera has an exhibit on display called “Migrating Landscapes”.
Photos By Chase Schomp

Sunlight shines and the indoor lights glow brighter. Stripes of faint color spill over half-taped sheets on the walls. A grid of tied-up earbuds are hung in the back, emitting an ambience of chime-like sounds. Each piece comes together to resemble an open windowpane at the height of early morning.  This is the make-up of Migrating Landscapes, an exhibit by the artist Daniela Rivera, kicking off the resumption of in-person art gallery shows at St. Michael’s College on Sept. 9. Brian Collier, Assoc. Professor of Art and Design, said the engagement and attendance levels were high, the estimate being about fifty people.

Hannah Muse ‘24 visited the exhibit and reflected on her experience at the gallery. “To get to be able to talk to her in person was really nice, just ask direct questions about her work, instead of just like, I don’t know,  zoom is just confrontational ‘cause you have to say it in front of everyone,” she said.

Celeste Matte ‘24 also visited the gallery and expressed excitement over the in-person viewing. “I was really happy to see how many people showed up,” she said.

Daniela Rivera, an artist featured in the gallery, was also content with the amount of attendees and their interest in navigating her work: “It was great, I think it was a good turnout…It was great to see bodies in the space,” she said.  Her past works soar onward to completion once begun, fulfilling their intended goal right away. Migrating Landscapes is designed to be in-progress forever, taking on more and more meaning as more people migrate into and out of the exhibit, she said. She also said the exhibit models the idea of ‘transculturation’ in which the pieces move from space to space while also creating new imprints in experience for anyone visiting.

The hours of the McCarthy Arts Center are Monday-Friday from 10:00-5:00 p.m. Migrating Landscapes is expected to be available until Oct. 21.

By Alexander Foy

Sports & Opinion Editor

afoy@mail.smcvt.edu

The Fleming Museum of Art at the University of Vermont took steps towards racial diversity and inclusion by featuring BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) artists in the “Storytelling Salon,” “Learning Studio” and “Abstraction” exhibitions for its reopening on Sept. 21. This push for change was fueled by 2020 Black Lives Matter uprisings following the death of George Floyd, said Janie Cohen, Director of the Fleming Museum. 

In the early stages, the Museum’s staff members spent a lot of time learning and unlearning what they knew about the layouts of their galleries, said Cynthia Cagle, guest services coordinator at the Fleming Museum. 

This has been done with the help of Ferene Paris Meyer, the founder of All Heart Inspirations, who works to create spaces for community dialogue, Cohen said. 

Paired with transparency and communication to the public, the Museum plans to create a space of inclusivity, said Chris Dissinger, associate director of the Fleming Museum.

“Our intention is to always have listening sessions, opportunities for our audience, all aspects of our audience, all members, to feel comfortable in the museum and to share their stories, their interests and concerns,” Dissinger said. 

While trying to become more inclusive, Dissinger said that the Fleming Museum has considered hosting meetings with other colleges in the region, like St. Michael’s College.

These meetings could be an opportunity for members of the St. Michael’s community to share their opinions about the Fleming’s reimagining, he said.  

“I think that museums need to be used more for [community gatherings] and be more open to a lot of different public functions,” said Brian Collier, associate professor of fine arts at St. Michael’s.

For the Fleming Museum of Art, this isn’t a new topic of discussion. “Many years ago we said we are going to make expanding our BIPOC artist collection, but we didn’t really direct resources towards it,” said Museum Director Janie Cohen. “We didn’t make it a priority that would make a difference,” she said.

However, with new and significant acquisition resources, they can. 

The bulk of new acquisition resources is expected to be used for acquiring contemporary art created by BIPOC artists. With this new fund, paired with the build-up of other unused funds, Cohen and her staff plan to move the museum into a more culturally sensitive direction. The Museum has already made this push with their newest exhibitions, “Storytelling Salon,” “Learning Studio” and “Abstraction,” with nearly half of the artists who premiered are BIPOC artists.

Beyond the addition of the acquisition fund, Dissinger said the Fleming Museum is committed to building a two-way street of communication with the community. The Museum recently implemented a feedback form on their website that allows people to communicate ideas about how the space can be more inclusive. 

“We are going to have regular staff sessions where we will share that feedback and help that guide our values and priorities moving forward,” Dissinger said. The Museum is also restructuring its membership system to allow all members of the community to experience the exhibitions, he explained. The previous membership structure of the museum functioned like a hierarchy, where visitors received more benefits based on the amount of money they paid.  

However, this system is expected to change.

That system is being replaced by the Fleming Community Circle, available free of charge. This allows the museum to send community updates about upcoming exhibitions and events. 

Upcoming events are expected to serve as opportunities to discuss a variety of topics ranging from meanings and interpretations of art to incorporating diversity and inclusion in the Museum. These meetings are expected to occur every few weeks.

“When we are open to the public, we will have six panels up in the museum referencing either art that has been removed or galleries that have been closed. [For] instance, there is one gallery — our African and Egyptian gallery — that is currently under complete renovation and we don’t know if it’s going to reopen as that,” Dissinger said. Fleming plans to continue reviewing art displays, which may result in a second round of removals, he explained.

“It’s exciting after all the work we have put in to see some of the early response of people coming in,” said Cynthia Cagle, guest services coordinator. Cagle described initial reactions as positive.

The Fleming Museum of Art is not alone in this effort towards its inclusion efforts in the museum. A number of museums around the world, like the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, are working towards decolonizing their exhibits, Cohen said.

“I would have thought that university museums would have been out ahead of everybody else and interestingly not. Some of the real leaders are major museums,” she said.

“We are deeply committed to it as a staff and we’re not being timid about it,” Cohen said. 

By Sam Heyliger

Managing & Visuals Editor

sheyliger@mail.smcvt.edu

It was a typical Saturday morning for Scott Cheney. Wake up at around 5 a.m., drive the dark fifteen minute commute from Burlington, and begin an early morning inspection of campus. 

“This is nothing. They didn’t even party last night. Sometimes you have to come in with shovels,” Scott Cheney said while driving through the Townhouse 300s at 6:34 am. The ground was littered with cans, bottles, food, and other miscellaneous garbage from the night before. Cheney said it would take about an hour to pick up everything in the Townhouse 300s before the students started to wake up. 

Scott Cheney is a member of the grounds maintenance staff at St. Michael’s College. He and his fellow staff members are in charge of maintaining the fields and outdoor spaces around campus, keeping them free of any excess sticks, leaves, snow, and garbage. 

“We’re pretty detail oriented. We always want everything to look the best it can. You’ll start eyeing everything as you’re going through because we’re thinking of it like the students are paying the money to come here, so when I come here, I want it to look right,” Cheney said. 

The grounds crew on campus has a long history with weekend party cleanup, having frequently picked up garbage, furniture, and other miscellaneous objects left on the campus grounds overnight. Cheney and his coworkers were tasked this weekend with keeping the campus clean for the oncoming visitors for Family and Alumni Weekend. 

“As you come through you’re going to start to have the memories you had coming here and this is how we represent St. Michael’s. We want it to look good,” Cheney said. “Any eyesoar you pick out immediately. I do. And you will too when your child is going to school. You don’t want to see that.”

During his campus inspection, Cheney drove his Gator up to the front of the Townhouse 400s to inspect some new chalk markings from the night before. “That’s gotta be removed. We can’t have that stuff right there,” Cheney said. 

Plastered on the ground were inappropriate illustrations and profane language. “At least it’s chalk and not spray paint,” Cheney said before washing off the chalk with gallon buckets of water and an old broom being hauled in the bed of his Gator. 

This fall marks the 17th year that Cheney has worked as a member of grounds and facilities at St. Michael’s. Cleaning up garbage from parties has been par for the course over the years. “You don’t really think about [the messes], you just do it. It’s all love for the job really. It’s what it basically comes down to,” Cheney said. 

Working long weekend hours is nothing new according to Cheney. Anticipating the job at hand helps him know what he’s getting into before arriving at campus, “You have to be here between 5:30 and 6:00 depending on how bad the mess is. It’s like imagining the Boston Red Sox winning the world series in Game 7, do you know what that’s going to look like the next day?” Cheney said. 

Scott and his four coworkers are what is left of the grounds crew at St. Michael’s amidst severe understaffing following the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“When I first started in the early 2000s, there were probably 17 to 18 people on our crew, now there’s like 4. It has dropped dramatically. It puts a lot of pressure on all of us when we don’t have the numbers. There’s a lot more responsibility on everybody,” Cheney said.  

Facilities Director Joel Ribout took on the task of helping lighten this pressure through new ways of looking at what the grounds crew should be responsible for around campus. “We started shifting the responsibility more to the students within the past three years. COVID put a big hiccup on that because there weren’t allowed to be parties technically. There was virtually no cleanup in 2020, so I think what we’re doing now with the help of Jeff Vincent and the RDs is a great step to get where we have to get,” Ribout said. 

Through several meetings, residence life and grounds have decided to start decreasing the grounds crew’s presence on early morning cleanups around campus after large gatherings. Specifically around townhouses, said Nicole Noce, resident director of townhouses and apartments. 

“One thing that we, residence life staff, Jeff Vincent, facilities, and grounds crew agreed on is that other than big weekends like alumni weekend, grounds are not responsible for cleaning up in the townhouses because we really want the seniors to be owning their area,” Noce said. 

Scott Cheney was positive about this change in philosophy when asked while driving past the empty, dew laden quad. 

“Joel is the third boss we’ve had. My other two bosses would think this is what has been done for a hundred years, this is the way it’s going to be. Joel was the first one that came in and as the first one who said why are we the ones picking up after them,” Cheney said. “This is something we’re just recently trying is to see if we leave the trash the way it sits in mornings like this. If the students come out and start picking up after themselves, we’re hoping they’ll learn that it needs to not be a mess.”

Once the inspection of campus was complete, Scott promptly drove over to the Townhouse 300s and proceeded to pick up the fattened beer cans, broken glass, and food scraps pressed into trodden dirt in front of the townhouses. 

 The 300s have been the center of party culture for many generations of St. Michael’s students, Cheney explained. “It’s always been the armpit because that’s where everything happens,” Cheney said.  “We’re going to pick all that up Friday morning, and guess what they’re going to do tonight, party. And this same area is going to look like this again tomorrow morning.” 

Scott Cheney’s experience on campus with students has been marked with various moments and interactions over the years. “There’s a lot of students that kind of treat us like ‘the garbage people’, and there’s other people that are thankful. So we get a mix. A lot of the time they don’t understand what we have to do,” Cheney said. “Sometimes they’re drunk and they’ll throw [beer cans] out their windows and it will hit us if we’re underneath them.”

The root of this problem, however, could be more than just an impulse decision to litter, explained Nicole Noce, “The students need healthy peer pressure. Calling people out and telling people to pick up their garbage. Owning that it’s our community and we don’t leave [campus] gross. We pick up after ourselves.” 

Cheney, however, is not completely opposed to the party culture on campus.

“They can party all they want. They should be able to let loose. College is tough, college is really tough. So every once in a while they need to release. We don’t hold anything against them as far as that goes, it’s the whole picking up after them gets tiring,” Cheney said.

The time is 8:00 am. The Townhouse 300s lawns are nearly all clean, and parents and alumni are starting to trickle on to campus as Scott Cheney takes his fourth and final trash bin to the dumpster behind the parking lot. 

Tomorrow morning, the second cleanup crew will come in and repeat the morning process that the grounds crew undergo every weekend, while Scott Cheney gets his day off before the busy week ahead.

By Ashley DeLeon

Executive Editor

adeleon@mail.smcvt.edu

Stanley Valles, 52, takes a nighttime stroll in the Townhouse 100s wearing white Crocs and a Nike sweatshirt. Seconds after closing the door to his new home on campus, he is greeted by a student who noticed a radio in his hand.


“Are you the new Public Safety director,” the student asks.

 “Yes, I’m Stan. How are you,” Valles responds. 

He shakes hands with the student –– who happens to be his new neighbor –– and engages in a conversation about interests, hobbies and hometowns. 

“I don’t consider myself any different from the students I’m here to serve,” Valles said in an interview.

Like many students living on campus, Valles is hours away from home. 

His family currently lives in the Township of Livingston, New Jersey, where Valles served as the first African American police officer in 1995. 

With over 25 years of experience in law enforcement, he has worked for the New Jersey Transit Police Department, New Hampshire Department of Corrections, Livingston Police Department and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office in New Jersey.

In 2017, he served as the first director of Campus Safety and Emergency Management at Marlboro College.

“Family means everything to me, and it should to everyone” 


Valles was born in Brooklyn, New York and lived in a four-family house with his relatives throughout his childhood. He shared a bedroom with his two cousins and brothers. 

“If you wanted something to drink, you’d go upstairs to your grandmother’s house. You’d go down in the basement where your uncle lived to grab a t-shirt, go on the second floor to do homework with your cousins. It was a great way to grow up…,” he said.

Valles’ humble beginnings taught him the importance of gratitude.

“From my grandmother living in Jacmel, Haiti with dirt floors, no plumbing and having an outhouse, to actually having what she had now, made us appreciate it even more,” he said.

He and his family eventually moved to Connecticut, where he was met with an immediate culture shock.

“I went from living in a predominantly Black area in Brooklyn to living in Connecticut where it wasn’t as diverse,” he said.

After his parents divorced, Valles moved to Newark, New Jersey and attended Kean University where he graduated with a Bachelor’s in English. Afterwards, he enrolled in the Middlesex Police Academy. 

While in the police academy, he learned a jarring piece of family information –– his grandmother couldn’t read or write. 

“She really valued the importance of education, so that’s why she pushed me. Coming from Haiti, she understood that people are often judged by the color of their skin, and content of their character,” Valles said.

He later married his wife, Katie, but never expected to marry outside his race, he said. Though his late mother always wanted him to marry a Haitian woman, she liked Katie and embraced her fully. 

Unfortunately, his father and other family members did not attend the wedding because he married outside of his race.

“My father did not come to my wedding, nor did he meet my children. There were some people that didn’t come to our wedding because of our race, and that’s an obstacle we [had to] cross,” Valles said.

He and his wife have two college-aged children, Max and Olivia.

Olivia shares the same birthday as Valles’ mother, and Max has the same birthday as his father.

“Olivia drives a little Subaru, has a boyfriend and is very cookie-cutter. My son is the exact opposite. He has a recording studio in the garage, and had rolling papers in his laundry,” he said. 

“I see a lot of the students in my kids,” he said.

Community policing and harm reduction

“If we’re going to work towards a demilitarized justice system of policing, community policing is the only way to do it,” said Margaret Bass, special assistant to the president for Diversity and Inclusion.

When Valles started working at St. Michael’s College in early August, he planned to immediately implement community policing practices at the institution.

Community policing is an enforcement strategy that focuses on developing relationships with people in a community. The concept of community policing gained media traction after the death of George Floyd in May 2020.

“Rather than responding to crime only after it occurs, community policing encourages agencies to proactively develop solutions to the immediate underlying conditions contributing to public safety problems,” according to a community policing guide from the Department of Justice.


“[For example], I saw somebody who was attempting to hang on to the back of a pickup truck on his skateboard. And I was with an officer. Instead of going lights and sirens to the person, we just pulled up and had a conversation,” Valles said.

Part of community policing involves positive partnerships among officers and leadership, he explained. 

Valles said he regularly meets with officers and dispatchers one-on-one to learn more about his colleagues.

“I would come in on a Saturday or Sunday, and sit with the dispatcher for a few minutes… or with an officer on a Sunday and ask them what their day was like,” he said. 

Valles said he wants to see an increase in positive interactions between students and officers.

“I’d like to see officers interact with students more, like eating in the dining hall together or going to the library,” he said.

Logan Hailey ‘23 expressed his hopes to see more respectful interactions between officers and students. 

“Last year, I felt like they were very suffocating with their constant patrolling and suspicion,” he said.

Hailey was interviewed for a Defender story last Spring, where he shared his experience receiving over $800 in fines for both marijuana and disrespect during the height of tensions between students and officers. 

“I feel like their priority should be protecting students in unsafe situations like sexual assault rather than busting a couple students smoking pot,” he said. Considering the difficult year students experienced due to COVID-19 restrictions, Hailey hopes that officers can allow students to “hang loose” and relax. 

Representation matters

“​​I don’t know if I’m the first African American to hold this position at St. Michael’s or if they even keep track. But, it does make you wonder what people think of you, how they judge you, and how they look at you,” Valles said.

It can be difficult to avoid this mode of thinking when little to no racial diversity is present in meetings, he explained.

For the BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and People of Color] community on campus, representation in Public Safety leadership can hold significant meaning.

“It is about time we start having BIPOC people in positions of power. It is the season in our Millennium where we start making changes to our leaders and those who are in positions of power,” said Kelechi Onuoha ‘23, community engagement secretary for the Student Government Association. 

Onuoha expressed optimism for the future of Public Safety reform at the College, and hopes that changes this year “are going to be powerful.”

Optimism and hope for the future of Public Safety

“I look forward to watching [Valles] build connections and become part of what makes St. Mike’s the special community that I have grown to love and respect,” said Doug Babcock, adjunct professor and former director of public safety. 

Babcock, who currently works for public safety at Dartmouth College, knew Valles several years ago when he worked at Marlboro. 

“He is a calm and thoughtful leader with an extensive background in public safety and a commitment to community engagement,” Babcock said.

Fr. Marcel Rainville ’67, S.S.E. met Valles at an Edmundite dinner a few weeks ago. 

“There were the regular seven Nicolle Hall Edmundite residents at dinner that evening, along with five other Edmundites who reside at Fort Ethan Allen.  Stan arrived as we were beginning dinner, and so Fr. Brian kind of ‘took him under his wing,’ sitting with him and other Edmundites at that second table,” Rainville said. 

He said that Valles left a good impression that night.

“Stan left a good impression on me as a serious yet very friendly person who would seem to be a fine fit for the new position he has assumed on our campus,” Rainville said. 

Adjunct Professor Kayla Loving discussed her appreciation for Valles’ dedication to the College community. 

“I met Stanley Valles and appreciated his commitment to learning from and building relationships with the community,” she said.

Students have already expressed their optimism for the future of Public Safety under Valles’ leadership.

“I think he’ll probably keep some of the aspects of Doug’s time that I might say are good. But I think he’s also going to make an effort to change the things from previous eras that were not so good,” said Lily Denslow ‘22, secretary of academics for the Student Government Association.

Denslow noted the importance of positive relationships between students and Public Safety and its impact on academic performance.

“College is one of the only times in life where one institution controls every aspect of your life, from financial stability… to what you eat if you’re on a meal plan. We need to understand the impact that Public Safety can have on a student’s academic performance,” she said.

Eliza Masteller ‘23, who met Valles in a criminology class taught by Babcock, briefly described her positive interaction with the new director of Public Safety.

“As students exited the classroom, he asked for our names, how we were and how he hoped to see us on campus. I am hopeful that Stan can continue to take Public Safety into a positive direction and pick up where Doug left off,” Masteller said.