The members of Castleton University’s Student Government Association recently sent out a survey to Castleton students to hear their honest opinions and reactions on the Vermont State College merger.
The survey ran from Oct. 19 through Nov. 3, and got 303 responses. It asked questions like why students chose Castleton, and where students stand on their understanding of the merger.
“We did the survey to learn what students truly feel about the merger, because we got so much negative feedback about the one that the Chancellor’s office put out,” said Kayla Laurie, senior and executive vice president of SGA who helped spearhead the survey. “We wanted a survey that was more understandable and straightforward.”
The SGA enlisted the help of political science professor Rich Clark to carefully craft the survey and best analyze the results.
“I was happy to help SGA with their student perception survey because the merger process, in my opinion, has progressed too far without any sufficient data on what students want from the system,” Clark said. “The VSCS has a public mission to benefit the state of Vermont. But as state support has declined, the system is almost entirely dependent on student tuition to keep the VSCS afloat. If students are paying the bills, their voices should be prominent. We give more voice to the legislature than to students despite the fact that the latter pays about 82% of the system’s expenses.”
Clark also said that he believes student voices should be primary because “we are only here to serve our students.”
According to Clark, the SGA survey may be the best data we have about what students who have chosen Castleton actually want.
The survey suggests that 58.3% of students that took the survey are completely against the merger as they understand it today.
“The biggest thing we saw from that, was freshman, sophomore, it doesn’t matter what grade level, the numbers were the same,” said senior and SGA President Ryan Boeke. “That is kind of the biggest thing we want to take away from this survey. It’s not just one grade, it’s not just two grades, the entire student body is feeling uncomfortable about the merger, and misinformed.”
Boeke said that SGA is going to send the survey results to state legislature, the Board of Trustees and various media and news outlets in Vermont. And, of course, to students.
“We want people to be aware of this information, so that other people know how to improve what they are doing,” said Boeke. “And really the biggest thing is having this be the thing that the VSC looks at when making decisions, so students have a better understanding and can be more comfortable.”