Alum distressed by name change

I grew up in Castleton. I attended the local schools and attended Scamp Camp over the summers at the community center. In high school, I attended Upward Bound and stayed in Babcock Hall at then-Castleton State College. I think I still have a VHS tape checked out from the library that’s several years overdue. After completing my associate’s degree at the Community College of Vermont, I decided to finish my degree in the town, and at the campus, that had been such a large part of my life.
Shortly before graduation, I moved to Columbus, Ohio. Despite the distance, Castleton is home, and I’m still a very proud Spartan. As I write this, I’m drinking coffee from the 343 mug that bears Castleton’s logo.
I, like many students, faculty, and alumni, found myself saddened at the decision by the Vermont State College board to combine all three schools. Even though I’m sad, I can understand the decision, and the need to make the decision. The coronavirus pandemic has made such decisions necessary, and if we’re honest with ourselves, it’s not hard to see why the decision to combine the three schools was made.
What angers me, however, is the name change. Anyone who spends time at Castleton understands that it’s a special place. We all bleed 343 green. We are all devoted to “the Castleton way.” To trade all of that in for a generic rebranding feels like both a waste of funds and a betrayal to those who have called Castleton home.
Castleton’s name has a lot of pull, not just on the national level, but internationally as well. According to Castleton’s website, 19 countries are represented in the student body. The Castleton brand has been cultivated and developed for years. That’s not something that’s easy to change.
I can’t say I was surprised by the decision to change the name. When I read the article written by Jasmin Gomez and Sophia Buckley-Clement entitled “VSC Chancellor visits Castleton,” it was made clear to me that the town hall was a dog and pony show, and that the new branding was going to be ramrodded through without attention paid to dissenting voices. In the hopes that the VSC board would at least consider alternative measures, I signed the letter, along with other alumni, in protest of their decision.
We, the Castleton community, were ignored. The decision for rebranding was made by people, in my opinion, who don’t understand the unique culture of each individual school that makes up the Vermont State College system. It feels like they are throwing away 234 years of history and like it or not, we’re along for the ride.
They have wasted an opportunity to capitalize on the Castleton name, and it breaks my heart. To the Vermont State College Board, I say this: on your own heads, be it.
Forever Castleton.

Photo courtesy of Castleton University.

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