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By Kaitlin Woolery

Photography Editor

PHOTO BY KAITLIN WOOLERY
Sodexo workers have new guidlines to follow restrictions that are in place, serving food and maintainig a clean environment.

Have you noticed students carrying out the new to-go containers from Alliot? The pandemic has drastically altered our way of living, especially when it comes to handling food. Prior to the coronavirus, Alliot was known to be buffet style, but with the new COVID-19 restrictions in place, self-serve stations are out in favor of a ‘take-out’ approach. But what to do with all that packaging?

“The ideal situation in terms of sustainability is to use reusable plates, cutlery, and cups, that was simply not feasible given the COVID restrictions and our dining room set up,” says Karen Talentino, professor of biology and director of the health science program.

The take-out food served in environmentally friendly containers was the result of discussion after COVID policies became clear. This allows students to use their meal plans, while not overcrowding the reduced capacity dining hall. The students are free to eat their meals almost anywhere including the outdoor seating areas. Students can throw containers and food scraps into the bins outside of Alliot. The bins fill up quickly.

“When we heard about the take-out dining model this summer, the Sustainable Campus Team advocated that all materials be compostable to maintain our efforts of living, teaching, and stewarding environmental efforts because it is so repeatable and all of a sudden at such a large scale,” said Kristyn A. Achilich, professor of environmental studies and director of the center for the environment. 

Eco-Products manufacturers of these to-go containers. “Our products can biodegrade in as little as 45-60 days when disposed of in a composing heap where microorganisms, carbon, water, oxygen, and nitrogen are present,” their website claims. 

 “We could have chosen different take out containers, but with the single use plastic ban also going into effect this summer, this was an unwise message and would have only caused a trash problem rather than a compost problem,” said Achilich.

There were a lot of factors to consider when making the switch to compostable to-go Eco-products at Alliot. “This was a major effort to coordinate and involve close collaboration and communication with our campus Facility team, ResLife, Print & Design team, Sodexo team, the Center, and our community partner, our waste hauler, Casella,” she said

 “We contracted with Casella to manage the additional compostable containers, because our own compost facility is fine for food scraps, but not for the volume of compostable containers we are generating,” said Talentino.

It took a lot of effort to provide the environmentally friendly take-out containers that we see students carrying all over campus this Fall. “It all happened right before school started so it was a heavy lift but we are proud to bring this effort to campus at this scale,” said Achilich. “We are hopeful that the COVID restrictions will not last into next semester, but we are looking into alternatives to compostables, should that be necessary,” said Talentino.

PHOTO BY KAITLIN WOOLERY
These sustainable containers, offered in Alliot, allow students to enjoy a meal outside.

By Kit Geary
Politics Editor

Whether you are one of the 429 students from Vermont on campus, or you call a different state home, this upcoming gubernatorial election matters to you. The next choice of governor will impact your life directly as a student in more ways than you may realize. Of the plethora of issues that candidates are focusing on in their campaign three have captured students: handling Covid-19, the Black Lives Matter Movement, and the climate crisis. 

COVID and the ELECTION

Currently Vermont stands in the national spotlight for its handling of the coronavirus. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently joined Gov. Phil Scott’s weekly press conference via Zoom and said “I strongly believe that if we do what you [the state of Vermont] have been doing in the rest of the country…we cannot only get through the fall and the winter, but can come out the other end better off than we went in.” 

Mark Levine was appointed by the Phil Scott administration to head the Vermont Department of Health. This administration could continue on or end this November. What will happen if Democratic candidate David Zuckerman wins the election? Will he reappoint Dr. Levine as head health commissioner, and if he does will Dr. Levine say yes?

 “Within the state of Vermont there is a definite coherent state strategy that the health department is part of, but obviously it comes from the governor on down, there’s a respect for science and data that really drives the entire process,” said Levine. Levine along with the other offices of the governor’s administration have been working tirelessly to keep this state healthy, and they have found much success. Soon there will be a change, and either way Dr. Levine says he is willing to stay on and continue his position as the health commissioner.

 “Should Governor Scott be the winner he has not said anything to the effect that he would break up the team. He considers this a very team directed enterprise,” Levine said. David Zuckerman also has mentioned a handful of times, via Bernie Sander’s livestreams, that he hopes that Levine will be willing to hold his position if a change of administration occurs.

 “I’d let it be known that I’m in the pandemic response for the long run, I’m not trying to be influenced by whatever happens in the election,” Levine said.

BLACK LIVES MATTER and the ELECTION

Vermont has had its run in with racist incidents this year. Black Lives Matter protests have been occuring nightly in downtown Burlington. Protestors are currently infuriated with the city’s police department. Mark Hughes, a racial justice activist, resigned from the Burlington Police Commission earlier this month. During his public resignation Hughes declared racism in Vermont to be a public health emergency and expressed concern that Mayor Miro Weinberg has shown no “political will” towards the subject. Vermont residents are looking towards its leaders and demanding change and racial justice. 

“Elections have real consequences for real people, including people who have been historically marginalized,” said James Duff Lyall, the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont. Across the state there are numerous racial justice initiatives happening, some will have an effect on the whole state and some will only affect certain towns. For instance, on a local level people are calling to have police officers removed from Montpelier and Winooski schools systems. Duff Lyall says people need to be aware of the issues candidates are running on pertaining to racial equity when they cast their ballots. “Whoever is elected governor is going to have a lot of work to do to address the legacy of racism in the country and in this state,” Duff Lyall said. The ACLU is a bipartisan organization and cannot back one candidate, but they are hopeful for a candidate who will implement serious change.

CLIMATE CHANGE and the ELECTION

The Vermont House of Representatives just overrode Phil Scott’s veto to the Global Warming Solutions Act which requires retail suppliers in the state to obtain 75 percent of their annual electricity sales from renewable sources by the year 2032. The catch is that this act has a provision that any entity in the state of Vermont could sue the state Government for failing to reach those goals. 

“The greater Burlington area is really a national leader in climate change solutions,” said Laura Stroup, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies and Science. The state’s economy is so vulnerable to climate change because the ski industry brings in a good deal of the state’s revenue. Many Vermonters’ livelihoods depend on a healthy ski economy, global warming has been and will always be on their minds when they head to the polls.

 “Zuckerman is running his campaign on a Vermont farmer, can- do kind of attitude. On the other hand Scott is a Republican yet he clearly is willing to hear out issues more broadly from both sides,” Stoup said. The current times make dealing with climate change more difficult. The coronavirus has been draining states financially and Vermont has felt this hit. The victor will have to consider the money that following through with the Global Warming Solutions Act will take, as well as the fact that there lies the possibility of being sued.

 Voters in Vermont are left questioning how the next Governor will run this state and what issue will they focus on?

PHOTO COURTSEY OF PHIL SCOTT FOR VERMONT
PHOTO COURTSEY OF ZUCKERMAN FOR VERMONT

By Kit Geary

Politics Editor

When I first read the new changes to Title IX, “Federal law provides that Title IX “shall not apply” to educational institutions that are “controlled by a religious organization,” I froze.

  On Sept. 9 Executive Order 13864 final rule was put into place and this was the second bullet outlined on that act.

  I am not overly knowledgeable about Title IX, but I do know that it pertains to education equality and gender and sexual based violence issues. So naturally bullet number two scared me out of my mind. I needed to talk to someone who understands what this means to me, a college student. So, I found Catherine Welch, the St. Michael’s College Title IX coordinator. Welch focuses on all potential issues gender based, whether it be gender based violence or gender-based issues in general, that might deny someone access to their education.

Q: What is Title IX?

A: Title IX is a rule or regulation that was first released in 1972, signed into law by President Nixon. It essentially says no one’s access to education should be or can be denied based on gender.

Q: Had sexual assault issues on college campuses always fallen under Title IX? If not, why do they now?

A: The focus on Title IX and sexual assault started back in the Obama administration, so 2008-2016. The administration took issues of sexual assault and violence on campuses and said that folks that might be experiencing this, their access to education is 100% being affected and colleges need to deal with it. They aimed to create a system where colleges and universities were very survivor focused and trauma informed. This was all encouraged, not required. We are now seeing that change with a shift in presidential administrations. The Trump administration and Betsy Devos took the last four years to undergo this lengthy comment and review period to release regulations that are binding. It was the first-time regulations for Title IX had been released since 1972. It is a big deal that she went through a different process than the Obama administration did to really require that colleges follow the regulation put in place.

Q: Who is Betsy Devos and what does her role have to do with Title IX?

A: Betsy Devos is the Secretary of Education as appointed by the Trump administration. Within the Department of Education is the issue of civil rights. They are the ones that wake up in the morning thinking about civil rights issues. That’s so many things from K-12 into higher education. One of the things is thinking about gender and sexual based violence in any educational system.

Q: Why would a shift in presidential administrations change this?

A: Some would say that the Trump administration believed Title IX to be like a sort of pendulum that the Obama administration had swung too far in one direction. The Trump administration was interested in swinging that pendulum back to the middle. Focus was put more on due process rights. They were and are very concerned about those accused, and that the rights of individuals in due process are adhered to and respected.

Q: How has the process of reporting changed?

A: So, I think that’s yet to be seen since schools have only had to adhere to these requirements since August 14th. The process for Title IX complaints that we are now required to adhere to does require a live hearing. Before these new requirements sexual assault complaints were done through a shuttling process. I, as the Title IX coordinator, was often used as a middle ground for both parties to communicate through. There was never a live hearing. We now realize that this process involving a live hearing is potentially one reason why folks choose not to go through the criminal justice law enforcement system. Both parties won’t be in the same room but both parties’ advisors will have the ability to ask people questions. Advisors will communicate through some means of technology during these hearings such as Zoom.

Q: What is the “Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities” Executive Order?

A: So, I don’t know all the details of that, but I do know a question that was kind of floating while they were doing their final question and comment period was “Can religious institutions apply for an exemption from the order if they want to make that argument?” That question had been lingering for a while and this order gave an answer to that. The answer is now yes.

Q: So will St. Michael’s stop following the Title IX guidelines?

A:  St. Michael’s College is committed to addressing sexual and gender-based violence and would not seek any sort of exemption.

Illustration by Ashley DeLeon

By Victoria Zambello

Executive Editor

   When news of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death reached campus on Friday, students were already gathered in small groups to relax on a weekend evening amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As the news hit each of our phones or we learned through word of mouth, we raised a glass to the ‘Notorious R.B.G.’ We cheered her legacy and the rights of women – while promising to continue her fight for the voiceless. She carried the weight of the world on her shoulders and pummeled through every obstacle that society threw her way.

  Justice Ginsburg was the light that helped my generation of women feel strong, powerful, and invincible and encouraged a generation of men to become allies to women.

  If you do not know her story, you are missing a huge puzzle piece of how your sister, wife, daughter, friend, and mother have been able to live the life that they have. Without the influence of R.B.G on Title IX, female college students’ protection would be diminished. Without her persistence, my sisters would be denied the rights to have kids while working. Without her intelligence, my mother would not have been allowed to open a bank account without a male co-signer. Without her inspiration, millions of young girls and women would not have felt empowered to speak up about social justice issues.

What’s the big deal?

  In 1955, Ruth enrolled at Harvard Law School at the same time as her husband Martin Ginsburg, while also taking care of their first child. It may sound like a fairly normal accomplishment to us Gen Z’s, but let’s remind each other that she was one of only nine women within a 500-person law class. Yet, that only empowered her more. When her husband was diagnosed with cancer, she responded by taking on his law work on top of hers, while also raising a child. She graduated at the top of her class, just to be denied work at any law firm because women weren’t valued as lawyers in that time.

  “Over a long career on both sides of the bench — as a relentless litigator and an incisive jurist — Justice Ginsburg helped us see that discrimination on the basis of sex isn’t about an abstract ideal of equality; that it doesn’t only harm women; that it has real consequences for all of us. It’s about who we are — and who we can be,” Obama said in celebrating her in his published tribute.

  In 1974, Ginsburg pushed through a decision on the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, allowing women to apply for bank accounts, credit cards, and mortgages without a male co-signer. In 1973, Ginsburg fought to have women on juries. In 1978, she battled for the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, recognizing pregnancy discrimination as unlawful. . In 1996, she argued (and won) that women at Virginia Military institute should be allowed in the same program as men.

  Look around you. Your daughters, sisters, mothers, professors, coaches, athletic trainers, peers, the list goes on to the amount of groups impacted by Justice Ginsburg. The list extends over to the males’ side of son, brothers, fathers, as she used her intelligence, kindness, and hard work to remind us why it is part of our fundamental rights as humans to have equality and Justice for all.

  “Feminism [is the] notion that we should each be free to develop our own talents and not be held back by man made barriers,” Ginsburg said in her 2016 book, My Own Words.

Why Do We Persist?

  Another powerful woman, NY Congresswomen, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez posted on Instagram the day after Ginsburg died: “Here is what we’re not going to do: give up. We do not give up when the world needs us the most.”

  “When I’m sometimes asked when will there be enough [women on the Supreme Court] I say, ‘When there are nine,’ people are shocked But there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that,” Ginsburg said.

  And for that reason, when I sit in my town house I am beyond grateful as I look to my right side and find a drawing my friend drew of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, reading: “Just another powerful woman in the house of other powerful women.”

  Thank you for allowing me to walk through life with confidence and ambition. Thank you for empowering me to never let a man or anyone else tell me I am less than I am. Thank you for giving a voice to the voiceless. Thank you for filling my niece’s life with opportunity and light.

  Most of all, thank you for being the legend who changed the world.

  May your legacy continue to spark empowerment throughout the world. We will keep your legacy alive.

    We will persist.

Victoria Zambello is the Executive Editor for The Defender. She is a Senior Media Studies, Journalism, and Digital Arts major with a minor in Sociology. She is a captain on the DII Varsity Women’s soccer team and involved in a variety of campus initiatives such as: TBC, SAAC, and HerCampus. You can most likely find her picking up a Starbucks cold brew for her jam packed days!

“My parents sent me pictures from outside of our house in Seattle, WA, and you couldn’t see farther than a couple feet in front of you because of the smoke. It just rained so the smoke has mostly cleared, but when it was bad they were more afraid of the smoke at the time than COVID” –Maggie Taylor ’22

“The fires in my town, Tahoe Ca., have been closing in on us. Although my family and friends have yet to be evacuated, they have been instructed to stay inside due to air quality reaching up to air quality worse than 200 AQI. The Lake Tahoe basin received a small amount of rain over the weekend which made visibility and breathable air a little better,” Magnolia Neu ’22 

“It just rained there a few days ago so the smoke has kind of cleared up. But they are getting more smoke this week because there are still new fires. I know that Whitworth University in Spokane canceled all sport practices last week because of the smoke. Every September is like this now and it’s kind of starting to look like Mad Max out there…we are lucky to be going to a school here where evacuations are not regular this time of year. We thought this summer was going to be better because last summer was so bad, there was nothing left to burn”  Otto VanDerhouef ’22

By Sean McGurn

Staff Writer

As Saint Michael’s students power through their fourth week on campus following a successful first round of completely negative covid tests, many begin to worry about the student’s mindsets involving signs of overconfidence, and reduced personal concern towards the virus.

When the first batch of results on all on-campus students were reported back there was definitive joy and relief from many but also some speculation that the all negative results were simply too good to be true and concerns that students aren’t following the rules “It is disappointing that people are not fully listening to the rules,” said Nate Imbergamo ’22. “We need to see the bigger picture here,” he added, noting that students could all suddenly be sent home for good.

The state of Vermont is doing exceptionally well in comparison to the rest of the nation and at a recent press conference the governor welcomed Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert on the White House Covid task force. He warned that we cannot let our guards down now.  The University of Vermont has reported less than 10 cases  and Champlain College  just a single case. By comparison, some colleges in other states have high incidence: Outside of the state, The University of Alabama and Georgia have more than 2,300 cases each as students returned for this Fall semester.

Coach Hall, head coach of the swimming and diving team, said we must take a step back to see what it is that we are here for. She suggests students should be “making a list of all the things that they value”. 

From a psychological standpoint, students on campus may be starting to act in ways that are influenced by arrogance and feelings of invincibility. “There are things we can do to prevent falling into the overconfidence ‘trap’,” said psychology professor Sarah Nosek. Her tips include avoiding relying on ‘word of mouth’ and avoiding  the tendency to listen to things that confirm our belief systems–a concept known as confirmation bias. Nosek as well as many professors that have been asked are extremely happy to be back on campus “Being on campus together this fall is a privilege and one that can change very quickly if people start to get sick,” said Nosek.

One professional in particular who reiterates this point is Covid Action Network (CAN!) advisor and political science professor Patricia Siplon. She works with a student led program helping to prevent covid-19 on campus. Siplon emphasizes harm reduction which will allow for students to still interact with each other in acceptable ways but make sure that the risks are limited for certain behaviors. “The campus will continue to operate on the lower level of risk,” said Siplon.

Students should simply continue to follow the same respectful and worthwhile practice that they have been since Covid-19 was classified as a pandemic back in March of 2020. If we come together (not physically) as a student body we have the power to encourage our peers to make the right choices and to take those down off their pedestals if they begin to show signs of overconfidence, and letting their much needed pandemic guard down.

Illustrated by Ashley DeLeon
Deputy Editor

Six months ago, worldwide depression had struck. People died and goodbyes were distant. Jobs were lost and financial securities went scarce. People living alone experienced the true feeling of loneliness. Nonetheless, there are silver linings embedded within tragedy. This first feature of The Defender’s new illustrated news series highlights stories of grief, loss, and silver linings uncovered by sophomores and juniors.


Ben Soulard ‘23– I count myself lucky that the people I care about have remained in good health. It can be tough to think of a silver lining during COVID, but there are some. I grew more in touch with myself. As much as I missed my people at Saint Mike’s, it made me value the time that I had spent with them so much more. I’m so thankful to be back with the people who I consider family.
Bree Cotroneo ‘23– Tennis plays an important role in my life. COVID-19 bred a loss in my life by taking away my normal tennis season. We’re supposed to have a competitive season in the spring, but this is uncertain, and it surely won’t be the same.
Felicity Rodriguez ‘22– During the pandemic, I transformed into a new person. COVID-19 affected members of my family, and with protests surrounding Black Lives Matter and my difficulties with mental health, I had a hard time. However, the pandemic pushed me to stay home, and I got the opportunity to tend to myself, something I had never done before. Learning to be self-aware, set healthy boundaries, incorporate self-care into my busy schedule, and simply learn about myself was key in my self discovery. Time allowed me to grow and become a person I am proud of.
Oliver Hogan ‘22– My mom has been living in the hospital with my dad while he is being treated for cancer. No one can come in and visit him. I haven’t been able to talk to him for three weeks.
Ly Altine ‘22- During the first three months of the pandemic, I fell into a deep depression. There was a range of emotions actually but all negatively impacting my mental health. The state of the world and the state of black Americans were critical. I felt like there was no way out and everywhere I turned, I was inundated with traumatic new images. Therefore, I took a social media break and was able to focus on my talents. I got into writing and even worked a little on my drawing skills.
Kelechi Onuoha ‘23– The pandemic left me in a state of hopelessness and devastation. I had to let go of toxicities that I depended on. At the same time, I grew as a person. The pandemic allowed me to examine who I really am. I discovered my identities as a Black woman, student, daughter, and friend. I discovered my faith in God. I discovered the kind of people I want to surround myself with. And now, I am on the path to discovering who I want to be.
 

Alex Tracanna ‘23– I didn’t have a job due to COVID, and I was unable to visit my family and friends. While quarantining, I was able to renovate my bedroom, clean out the basement, and work on my car. My room has been the same forever. Renovating was refreshing and made me happy.

By Ashley DeLeon

Deputy Editor

  I connect with people through the art of storytelling. I create stories during the silent moments of conversations when words don’t need to be said, and in the sweet moments of happiness that we can’t let go. Though the pandemic has written a bleak narrative of grief and tragedy for many of us, there is always an opportunity to add color to the story. A digital media class I took this past spring taught me just that. 

     On the first day of class, I walked in with an open mind and an open heart. We often don’t recognize the power of openness to opportunity in our lives, but it has a tremendous impact in the way we view ourselves and the world around us. I became open to the stories that can be told through images, even though I hadn’t been familiar with this mode of storytelling before. Time progressed, and I developed a strong appetite for learning more about digital media and artistry. To satisfy this hunger, I committed to learning two lessons independently for each lesson taught in class. Two grew into three, four, five, then six. However, it was not enough to satiate my curiosity. 

     I was inspired by my professor to pursue digital artistry more seriously after the semester ended, so I ventured to explore what my potential could be if I dedicated every ounce of effort and passion into my work. When we are devoted, passionate, and optimistic, we can surprise ourselves in what we’re capable of. 

     In the midst of worldwide turmoil, it could be difficult to stay motivated. However, motivation is what pushes us forward. Many of us were presented with two options– venture in finding a pastime or new craft, or search endlessly for control over the uncontrollable. My exploration started during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, but that didn’t stop me in the least bit.

Illustration by Ashley DeLeon

     Over time, the happiness and fulfillment that digital media brought into my life had bloomed. While honing my craft into the wee hours of the night, I learned about my love for color. Color can powerfully convey any emotion and intermediary imaginable, and by exploring different hues, contrasts, and tonal values, I learned how to manipulate a viewer’s emotional response to an art piece based on a variety of color palettes and combinations. Even though the state of the world would point to a grim color palette, there were hopeful prospects worth highlighting through bright, vibrant colors. Within the crevices of grief and tragedy, there is hope. 

     When illustrating, I characterize myself into the artwork. I jump from corner to corner and slide within curves and into corners, being careful not to bump into sharp edges or fall off of the artboard. I can tap into different emotional minds with the swipe of a digital paintbrush, bringing memories back to life in the ways I best remember them. Though the nature of the pandemic made me shelter at home, in my artwork, I could be anywhere at any time doing anything I wanted. When we discover a mindspace where we can lose ourselves for hours and days, sheltering in place doesn’t seem so bad.

     Discovering my potential as a digital artist wasn’t always easy. Minor intricacies spawned dilemmas that couldn’t be solved by a YouTube video. Hours were spent solving the most minute issues that seemingly made no difference. I found myself wasting time by taking the long haul, without even knowing there were simpler and more effective ways to achieve my artistic goals. When hours and days were spent on an nonviable piece, it hurt the most. Frustration is part of any journey in life, but on the other end is serenity. 

     It’s easy to imagine ourselves in a position where we can supersede the expectations we set for ourselves, but nothing is more worthwhile than turning this into a reality. All this time, I had the tools in front of me. All it took was openness, optimism, and inspiration to open my eyes and see. I am in a place of fulfillment and happiness, always searching for ways to continue expanding the creative possibilities of my mind. 

     With a notebook beside me and newfound passion in my heart, ideas beam through my mind and flow through my hands with ease. For the first time in my life, I know what it really means to be an artist. Now, I can share stories and cherish memories using more than just words.

Illustration by Ashley DeLeon

By Sarah Knikerbocker

Design Editor

PHOTOS BY SARAH KNICKERBOCKER
On September 20, protesters continue to join The Black Perspective at their camp in Battery Park next to the police station in Burlington, VT.

“We’ve never as a nation, reconciled with race relations and that is one of the biggest obstacles that we have right now.”
-Dr. Kathryn Dungy, professor of history

This sign was painted by a young student at Champlain Elementary School and
it easily catches your eye on Pine St. in Burlington, Vt., taken on September 9.

“It’s not always going to feel like we’re making progress. But it’s really important that we always continue to use our voices.”
-Aisha Naverette, ‘23

Protesters gathered at Roosevelt Park in Winooski, Vt. on Saturday, September 12, to
honor black and people of color’s lives that have been lost because of police brutality or
mistreatment, and to watch the inspiring movie, “Black is King”, as a community
.

“The Black Lives Matter movement isn’t politics, it’s human rights.” -Vanessa Bonebo, ‘21

By Grace Filloramo
Online Editor

Around 6 p.m. every night, the quiet Battery Park overlooking Lake Champlain in Burlington floods with hundreds of people. “No justice, no peace” shout  protestors as they peacefully march from the park to City Hall on Church Street. And that is exactly the plan, no peace until there is justice.  On any given night, the protests can have anywhere from 100 to 500 protesters. 

The focus is on three officers within the Burlington Police Department, officers Cory Campbell, Joseph Corrow and Jason Bellavance. All of them are under scrutiny for  excessive use-of-force cases. The chants and cheers of protestors can be heard blocks away from the South end of Burlington to the Old North End. Protest rules state all protesters must wear masks or they are not allowed to participate. Everyone tries to stay 6 feet apart from one another and stay within the group they are there with.

PHOTO BY GRACE FILLORAMO
Black Lives Matter Protest on Sept. 2, 2020. Protestors march down Church Street from Battery Park in Burlington. Protestors raise their fists and wear all black to show solidarity.

 On “Blackout Tuesdays and Thursdays” protestors get ready for the march by assembling into rows of threes at Battery Park. One row holds white cardboard signs with splatters of red paint signifying splattered blood, and written boldly in black are the names of black victims of police brutality within this country. The following row of three holds a bland cardboard sign with the names of the officers under fire, this pattern continues throughout the rows. Protestors raise their signs with one hand and with the other they raise a clenched fist high in the air, a universal symbol of black power, expressing strength, unity, defiance and resistance. 

As protesters gather outside of City Hall, silhouettes of the leaders can be seen standing atop the steps of City Hall as the sun sets behind them. For the next hour or so the young leaders take turns passionately speaking on the racial injustices seen in the Burlington area before they start the march back to Battery Park.

These protests began on August 25 and have continued every night since. As the protests have sparked a strong sense of community amongst protestors, it has also exposed hatred and racism in Burlington. 

“My roommate and I were blocking traffic at the Pearl Street intersection during a protest when a large black truck attempted to drive through the crowd, he was revving his engine and kept approaching the crowd slowly, he was shouting out his window to ‘get out of the way’” said University of Vermont student Caitlyn Kutash ‘22 . “As volunteers, we’re told to move out of the way if you ever sense a real threat, so we did. The man ended up getting by and luckily there were no injuries.”

“ We know that blocking traffic in Vermont is illegal and obviously with the country being as divided as it is, situations like this are bound to happen. I think there are certain circumstances where breaking the law is doing the right thing, it’s imperative as a white person to put your body on the line to protect the BIPOC (black, indegenious and people of color) community.”

Although Burlington is not Saint Michael’s direct community, the marches and encampment at Battery Park are open to anyone who wants to join the fight to dismantle systemic racism. For those who can’t march, there are plenty of other ways to help and get involved.

On campus, there are several opportunities to engage in social justice issues. “The MLK 

Junior Society, Diversity Coalition, Common Ground, the Peace and Justice club and even SGA are just a handful of the student organizations that work on various social issues, engage in advocacy work, and create opportunities for educational dialogue.” said Sarah Childs, Assistant Dean of Students and Director for the Center for Multicultural Affairs & Services.

 “I want to be a guiding hand for students, if they feel the school needs to do something differently on a social justice issue, I am here to enable them and help them figure out what their next steps could be.” As well as helping the fight for social change on campus, Childs shared one of several programming plans in the works that was developed to benefit students of color.  “I am developing some affinity based programming with students of color in mind where they can come and just have space with one another, share experiences and work on healing in an affirming and supportive environment.”

The Black Perspective Vermont was created locally by Winooski High School student activists after the murder of George Floyd. “This is an activist organization which is really working to uplift the BIPOC voices in Vermont especially because there are so few of them.” said Danielle Schiestle* “The Black Perspective VT has been really good about posting on social media and cross promoting with other local non-profits and organizations, so following them on social media is really important, especially just to stay in the know about protests and other activities happening surrounding racial justice.”

On Sept. 21, a proposal that city council approved was put forth where Jason Bellevance would be let go by Oct. 5.  “The removal of all three officers that are publicly known to be violent from the Department is the very least of what should be done to protect all people in our community and signal a serious change in standards.” said a public statement on behalf of The Black Perspective VT. On and off Saint Michael’s campus there’s opportunity to get involved with racial justice issues. Protests are still happening downtown and welcome anyone. Clubs and other organizations are a great way to be pushing for racial justice on campus.