What fossil free means to me

I am a non-traditional student and have been lucky enough to call myself a part of the VSC for the last eight years, first at CCV and now as a senior at Castleton University. When I began college at 22, I was daunted by the pressures of a college environment but found the VSC to be warm, welcoming, and deeply respectful. They have encouraged my individuality, my education, and my dreams at every turn, and have offered me a sense of belonging. This was undeniably true at CCV and is even more apparent in the two years I have spent at Castleton.

I believe that the VSC system believes in their students. As a VSC student, I have felt valued, supported, and listened to whenever I have had concerns. I have been taught lessons of respect, of inclusivity, and of long-term sustainability in both living and learning. During my time in the VSC system, I have been encouraged to pursue my passions, challenge my assumptions, and to make my mark on the wider world.

I would like to believe that this caring and concerned attitude that the VSC show to their students extends into the wider community of Vermonters, and human beings in general. I would like to believe that the love and support I have felt here reflects the attitude of the entire VSC system. I would like to know that the system I am proud to call myself a part of is actively practicing the values it teaches its students.

Students in the VSC today face all of the standard college challenges and do so in a time of great political and planetary shift. We are continually taught the importance of critical thinking about current events and concerns. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the lessons we receive on civil rights and on ways to imagine a peaceful and sustainable future for all humankind. These issues of human rights and climate justice are invaluable. They are also inseparable from both the mission of the VSC and the responsibility that VSC students will one day inherit.

These are some of the reasons that I find myself involved in with Fossil Free VSC, a group that is deeply concerned with seeing the VSC align their banking and investment practices with the model of ethics and sustainability that these colleges teach. Vermont is known for its commitment to sustainable living. We are ahead of the game in clean energy. We are invested in a cleaner and greener future. In the midst of the challenges that our people and our planet are facing, the entire VSC system has the chance to make history by taking the steps to separate from climate harming endeavors, honoring the rights and wishes of Indigenous peoples, and showing a commitment to the safety and security of our students, planet, and future. Working together, we can proudly imagine a Vermont State Colleges system that:

  • Stays consistent in their role as listeners, as mentors, and architects of a better future.
  • Hears and responds to the concerns of the students, faculty and other members of the community.
  • Understands the urgency of acting now to work towards climate justice and racial justice.



Arielle Ferrell


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