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By Kevin Corcoran
Staff Writer

Photo by Zora Duncan | Abby Poisson ’22 on a study abroad trip in Nepal.

With more than 100 programs around the world to choose from, The St. Michael’s College study abroad program has provided students the ability to travel the globe and explore new academic experiences. With five types of programs: intensive language, university liberal studies, community-engaged learning, international internships, and field-based research, students at St. Michael’s College have been able to simultaneously further their education, while also immersing themselves in unique cultures. However, like many aspects of life at Saint Michael’s, the Study Abroad Program has been deeply affected by COVID-19.

Before the Pandemic changed school and home life for St. Michael’s students, the study abroad program for the Spring of 2020 had an 88% acceptance rate, receiving 67 applications with 57 students being accepted.

However as travel bans, mask mandates, and quarantine orders began to increase, St. Michael’s ability to accept applicants decreased. 

In the fall of 2020, applicant numbers fell by 46% and only one of 31 students that applied was actually able to go on a trip. The spring of 2021 saw another decrease in applicants by 48%, but this time 4 of the 15 students who applied were accepted. The fall of 2021 saw 10 students applying and 4 students again being accepted. Looking ahead to the spring of 2022, 38 students have applied and 29 have been accepted as of November 1st.. 

Ellen Mckenna was one of four students to participate in the study abroad program in the spring of 2021. She studied in Seville, Spain. As a Spanish and MJD double major, McKenna  chose to study in Spain so that she could immerse herself in the culture and language to hone her skills. “My experience was absolutely incredible,” McKenna said.  “I became such good friends with my host siblings and their friends, and I would spend time daily with my parents,” said Mckenna. “All of my university classes were in person, and I also worked as an English assistant teacher every Monday in a 4th grade classroom, delivering lessons in English and helping the young students with their grammar and pronunciation skills of a second language,” said Mckenna. 

While she was not able to travel as much as she initially would have liked, Mckenna grew to call Seville and the city home, even becoming a local and a “regular” at her favorite cafe and wine shops.

Though COVID did restrict aspects of the study abroad program, when asked if she would recommend the program to other students, Ellen enthusiastically said “Yes! Absolutely. It was a blast, API did such a great job making us Americans feel at home, and the experience of living independently and under another family roof for four months is simply irreplaceable.”

Abby Poisson, ’2?  is currently studying in Kathmandu, Nepal this semester. “Studying abroad during the pandemic has certainly changed the trajectory of my experience in some ways, but less so in others,” Poisson said. “I have been fortunate enough to be able to stay with a homestay family in Kathmandu, as planned, which has made all the difference in my cultural and language-based immersion. Understandably many of my interactions with local people have had to be limited due to the risk of transmission of COVID.”

While Poisson’s experience with COVID in Nepal has provided some limitations to the experience, she is grateful for the opportunity to travel.  “Kathmandu has a mask mandate both inside and outside, so all of the students, as well as most local Nepalis, wear masks everywhere.I am incredibly grateful to be here, regardless of the restrictions and limitations that COVID has set into place, for our health and well-being.”

Poisson also has advice for students considering participating in the study abroad program for one of their semesters.

“I know that traveling during COVID can be anxiety-inducing for many and that there are inevitable risks involved, though they vary based on the country,” Poisson said. “As long as students exercise caution abroad regarding Covid, as they do in the U.S. and in our campus community, study abroad can be and still is a fulfilling and exciting experience.”

Director of the Study Abroad Program, Peggy Imai, has continuously been overseeing the study abroad process on campus amidst the COVID pandemic. 

“There are some schools that have found a pent up demand in study abroad because so many students for so long have not been able to go,” Imai said. “However, that’s not what’s happening on this campus.You have a lot of students that come here to have a community. I’ve had several sophomore students tell me that they would like to go abroad but what’s more important to them  is to make friends and establish the relationships they would have made in their first year”.

A recent survey conducted by the Study Abroad Office found that many students still wished to travel abroad but simply haven’t made it to the office to discuss opportunities. Imai  said  “This makes some sense because students have other things on their mind such as making friends and class and our application deadlines aren’t until a little bit later in the semester, but it would be better for some students to come in earlier to begin planning, especially students who are required to study abroad to complete their majors.” 

Imai said she wants students to understand that the opportunity to study abroad still exists. “We haven’t closed our doors or anything like that. Being able to experience different things is so important. If a student is for any reason not able to go abroad, I hope they don’t stop having experiences that are unique and challenging to them here at St. Mikes.”

If you wish to be a part of next semester’s study abroad programs you can find additional information and the necessary forms on the Study Abroad page on the official St. Michael’s website under the academics tab or type in the link: https://www.smcvt.edu/academics/study-abroad/  

The current deadline for the next set of trips is February 22, 2022.

By Kaela MacLaughlin
Arts, Culture, & Design Editor

Clockwise from top left: CeCe Horbat, host of the Environment and Sustainability panel, Jack Loomis, Caitlin Shea-Valentine, Chris Furlong as panelists on Nov. 2, 7:00 pm.

The annual Career Symposium at St. Michael’s College is running from Oct. 26-Nov. 17. It is a virtual event consisting of a series of webinars. Students can dial into fourteen different panels and speak with alumni from different fields. Panels include accounting, the arts and sustainability.

Ingrid Peterson, director of the Career Education Center, helps students with job searches, graduate school applications and academic major advising. 

The Alumni Board of Directors is run by former graduates of the College . According to Peterson, they select speakers for the annual Career Symposium. Angie Armour, director of Alumni and Family Engagement, explained that the first symposium ran in 2008, and is currently going fourteen years strong. Both 2020 and 2021 , were held virtually, she said.

Renée Davitt, coordinator of on-campus student employment, moderated student questions and invited three alumni panelists. Her panel is scheduled for next Wednesday. 

Davitt is an alumna from the class of 1986, and first worked with the Career Education Center as an unpaid volunteer until she was offered a full-time job . 

Josh Bardier ‘10, is on the arts and entertainment panel scheduled for Nov. 17 at 6:00 p.m.  This panel will be hosted by Heather Fichthorn ‘12. The two were in contact with each other already before he was offered a spot on the panel. He currently lives in New York City as an actor, singer, writer and director. 

“I’m going to try to tell ten years ago Josh what I would have liked to have known,” Bardier said. He explained that his reason for returning was because of his love for Saint Mike’s and its community spirit. 

Caiti Zeytoonian ‘14, was in the Law and Government panel on Nov. 2. She said that participating as a panelist was an opportunity to guide students who wished to pursue law. She said she liked the faculty and courses at St. Michael’s. She currently works at the Morgan Lewis law firm in Boston.

Margaret Wilk ’24 said she attended the symposium. “It’s good to make connections, so that’s what I took away from that,” she said.

Technology and education are taking place on Nov. 16 at 6 and 7 pm respectively. Arts and entertainment and exploratory are the final panels open for students. They are taking place on Nov. 17 at 6 and 7 pm. The registration link is as follows: https://www.smcvt.edu/outcomes/alumni/calendar/career-symposium/

By Alexander Foy
Sports & Opinion Editor

Photo by Rob Cattanach

When I packed for college, my plan was to bring my books and leave my workout gear but after a few days on campus I bumped into Bhuttu Mathews, the coach of the rugby team, and those plans changed. 

I accepted Mathews’ invitation to attend an information session about the club. At the meeting, the coaches and team emphasised the brotherhood that encompasses rugby and the team at St. Michael’s. This was appealing to me since that was one of the main reasons that I enjoyed wrestling. 

After the meeting, I was hooked. I started to fill out the forms so I could play. The upperclassmen on the team walked me through the process and offered to answer any questions I had about the forms. This support was invaluable as I was already bogged down with school work.

If I never took a step into the unknown, I wouldn’t have found this bond that eased my transition to college. 

“What happens outside of the classroom is such an opportunity for students to continue to learn about oneself, how to interact with those around them and also how to hone in on personal passions and interests,” said Dawn Ellinwood, vice president for student affairs.

After I filled out my forms and purchased the necessary equipment, it was time for my first practice. I was nervous about going, since I knew nothing about the sport. To my surprise, I wasn’t the only one who felt outside of their comfort zone. A few upperclassmen confessed that they didn’t understand the game completely until their second season. 

My team members explained the rules and encouraged me that the game will make more sense with time. This continual support made me feel welcomed, and cemented my newfound sense of   belonging here. I started to view practice as a chance to escape class and learn rugby instead of feeling embarrassed for not knowing as much as the other players. 

I was invited to the pregame ritual of pasta dinner night and spent time with my teammates outside of rugby. After the dinner I felt more connected and less like an outsider. 

My first game action was towards the end of our first match. I was still unsure of how to play my position, but my teammates helped me figure it out.

The coaching staff asked about my experience playing for the first time. Despite my short time playing, I explained how much I enjoyed it and couldn’t wait to play again. I was glad the coaches showed interest in my experience.

As I attended practices and spent more time with the team, I learned  that some of our players were involved in other campus organizations. Some of them reached out and offered to help me get involved. Without realizing it, I became a member of the rugby brotherhood.

As the season came to an end, the team conducted a naming ritual where each new player was given a nickname. After receiving a new name, we were assigned an upperclassman to be our “big brother.” With that, we became a part of the rugby brotherhood.

Looking back on my experience on the rugby team I can not help but laugh. If I stuck to my initial plan, I would have never formed the friendships I did. I am glad that I deviated from that plan and am looking forward to continuing rugby throughout my college career. 

So, how will you scrap your plans and walk outside your comfort zone?

Illustration by Ashley DeLeon

By Lochlan Sheridan
Staff Writer

The decision to add an Equity Studies major was announced by the Saint Michaels Board of Trustees on Oct. 22. This announcement comes as the first semester winds down and students begin to prepare for finals and search the spring catalog of available classes. While the Equity Studies (EQ) program will not be implemented until the 2022-2023 academic year, interested students can take spring semester courses focused on equity, race, and disability that will set them up for the major’s future requirements. 

Katherine Kirby, philosophy professor and director of Global Studies, worked with a group of 10 other faculty members to develop the Equity Studies proposal during the 2021 spring semester.  

“We recognized a need–and a desire on part of the students– for a course of study on race and additional curricular opportunities on disability,” Kirby said in an email. This decision to add the new area of study comes to St. Michael’s at a time when racial discrimination and social injustice are talked about at high magnitudes throughout the U.S.

Vicky Castillo, ’20 assistant director of MOVE and member of the Civil Rights Alliance, also noted a need for the EQ major and how it can be beneficial to prospective students. “The knowledge and skills that would come with completing an Equity Studies major would benefit any area of work that someone could pursue, without a shadow of a doubt.” Castillo said in an email. 

In Vermont specifically, racial inequality and the marginalization of certain people have become growing problems that affect minority groups throughout the state. Because of the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, minorities are still struggling to find decent-paying jobs and affordable housing. The fight for equality and racial justice is being pushed by Sen. Kesha Ram, state representative for Vermont’s Chittenden County. 

“It’s valuable to be versatile in your understanding of other communities, cultures and lived experiences,” Ram said. “Moving into a space where you’re really understanding and celebrating differences is critical for the job market and setting you up with a lifetime of enrichment and happiness.”  

Ram also explained the significance of critical race theory and why she believes it is an important concept within the EQ major curriculum. “We should be trying to create debate and the spirit that everyone can talk about different thoughts and ideas without it getting personal,” Ram said. 

Critical race theory is a highly debated topic, focused on the idea that racism is not only developed from personal bias or prejudice, but also through the legal systems and public policies that have shaped U.S. society.  While some opponents  feel that the theory is aimed to achieve racial equity through the discrimination of white individuals who have been the majority throughout the history of the United States, others such as Ram, believe that critical race theory is an essential concept for all college level students to understand and acknowledge.

Aspiring students interested in the EQ major will have the opportunity to become more diverse in their understanding of different cultures and communities they don’t personally associate with. Through a series of electives and core classes, the EQ major provides an inside look into the disparities that many minorities face throughout the U.S.

Peter Vantine, a professor of classical and modern language at St. Michaels, was another individual who worked with the group of faculty members to propose a new EQ major on campus. “The extremely wide variety of classes that will be a part of the major from across numerous departments (about 15, I think) will each bring different approaches, concepts, theories, and practices to bear on these questions,” saint Vantine in an email

While new classes related to race and disability are still being created for the EQ major, professors have a strong understanding of what the curriculum looks like for the up and coming program. “Students will take courses that explore how our society creates and perpetuates domination, oppression, marginalization and inequity in regard to race and ethnicity, disability, gender, sexuality and class,” Kirby said in an email. 

Required courses for the major will fall into the following categories:  Seeing & Transforming the Systems & Structures of Society; Seeing & Transforming the Self; Competencies & Skills; Equity-themed Electives and Integrations. The major will also give students the option of concentrating in a specific track such as Race & Ethnicity, or Disability. 

Along with the continued development of future classes, Kirby explained how the group who worked on the EQ proposal, feels that the addition of this major provides a perfect opportunity for the college to hire more BIPoC (black, indigenous, and people of color) faculty members. 

President Lorraine Sterritt, who was also involved in the Equity Studies proposal, emphasizes the need for more curriculum surrounding this topic of study. 

“It brings attention to very important issues of diversity and equity which fit with the ethos of our college and are very much a topic at large” Sterritt said in an email. “I believe the EQ major will attract students who are interested in delving into topics of equity.” 

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.