The VSC merger has recently been a main topic of conversation, fueling students, faculty, and onlookers to share their opinions regarding this pivotal and controversial change. In addition to the many students and faculty who have shared their perspectives, alums have taken to sharing their abundance of reactions through the CU Alumni page on Facebook.
The CU Alumni Facebook page has existed since 2008, a perfect outlet for alumni to communicate, share, and reminisce with other post-graduates. However, recently the page has been a hot spot for unbridled opinions, and even moderate acts of protest, surrounding the merger.
Take for example, one post with the caption “Don’t even bother sending me a new degree,” followed by multiple school-spirited hashtags. The comments were flooded with support, exhibited by statements such as “It will ALWAYS be Castleton State College to me—just like that diploma says,” and “That’s equivalent to Harvard changing its name and sending alumni a new diploma.”
Alum Bob Ferrero even went above and beyond to create, sell, and distribute t-shirts with the phrase “FU VSC” proudly plastered on the front, with “#CastletonForever” on the back. A selling point in the description is “impress your friends and let the powers that be know how you feel.”
The T-shirts were a hit among many, however, it also aroused a handful of constructive criticism, from people who argued that responding to the Transformation in such a manner was “not the Castleton way.”
One alumni and current professor at Castleton who requested to remain anonymous described these types of reactions to the merger as “finger pointing” and “immature.” The source sympathized with the shock, disappointment, and hesitancy that the decision evokes, but urged the importance of maturity and receptivity to the benefits it aims to provide.
From their perspective, it’s all about optimizing education, a valuable goal that the three institutions will be able to accomplish together. At the end of the day, regardless of various opinions and challenges that will inevitably accompany the merger, “We still do what we need to do to get the job done,” the source said.
They went on to explain that Castleton has encountered and adapted to numerous name changes in the past, all whilst upholding the same essential identity. They firmly concluded, “We don’t have much to worry about,” because the community will always hold on to its core values, just as it did in the past.
Erica Machia, CU graduate and current Admissions personnel, shared her viewpoint in a recent interview via Facebook messenger. At first, she was “disappointed to learn about the merger,” but is now “excited to be a part of the change” because of all the positive changes it plans to accomplish.
“A positive thing I see coming out of the merger is the opportunity for increased access to programs, activities, and learning environments (in-person, online, hybrid, weekends) that meet the needs of everyone,” Erica explained. “I believe we will be better able to serve not only our traditional students but also non-traditional students as well. I hope that the merger retains what is best of each institution so that we can offer a really impressive education and experience for years to come.”
Though feelings of fear, helplessness, and resistance have been expressed by many in the Castleton community regarding the merger, Machia is optimistic that the school will still be
Castleton, “whether it be ‘Castleton, A Vermont State University’ or ‘Vermont State University at Castleton.’”
She described the transformation as the responsibility of “students, employees, and alumni to make sure that the qualities and things we love about Castleton now continue on into the new institution.”
Machia concluded her opinions with a few sincere hopes for those affected by the merger, especially members of the community who are strongly opposed to or apprehensive of changes yet to come.
“I hope that people will provide their opinions and feedback when given the opportunity to do so through surveys, forums, and conversations,” Machia said. “Although the project has been approved and initiated on the executive level, members of the community should still take part and express their concerns and suggestions in a constructive way.”
Machia also stressed the importance of reading transformation updates and staying informed on the process, because lack of information and assumptions are the recipe for miscommunication.
“Once people have had time to process their anger over the decision, they begin to respond in a way that starts to support the merger so the ‘Castleton Experience’ can be continued on for many years to come.”