I would usually consider myself an impartial person. Not in a bad way, but I can usually see both sides of an argument, making it a bit harder for me to side with one.
It’s often a good thing.
It’s why I like journalism.
So, upon hearing about Vermont State University, while it was still in the works, I didn’t feel too strongly about it. Maybe that’s because it hadn’t happened yet.
It wasn’t tangible. Just some vague idea.
But now that it’s past July 1 and I worked at the Admissions Department all summer – giving tours to prospective students and their families, answering questions about Castleton, and assisting with the many tasks and renovations needed to be completed by that deadline – I can say I have a few thoughts.
While on tour, I always felt a bit lost for words describing Vermont State University.
I could speak about Castleton – an overview of its history, the student experience, the appeal of coming here – but I couldn’t speak much for how VTSU fits into our established understanding of the school.
It felt like a conflicting message when coming from the Old Chapel or walking down the walking history sidewalk leading to Stafford, appealing to Castleton’s rich history, only to end with, “And now we’re Vermont State University.”
I would usually throw in a good-willed joke: “Maybe we’ll get a ‘VTSU at Castleton’ stone at the end there.”
But will we? I asked myself.
And does that even make sense? Because that would imply that Vermont State University is tying into our identity, when I’m afraid it’s the other way around.
I’ve pondered the fact that Castleton has been through numerous transitions. I think that’s a great point. But the difference to me is that the term “Castleton” is now a sub-set of another term: “Vermont State University.”
That’s not to say I don’t see the positive in the schools coming together. As technology advances, it makes sense that people want and need online learning opportunities. And I appreciate that VTSU aims to be more affordable, which is incredibly useful in a world that is more expensive and often requires at least an associate’s or bachelor’s degree for a good paying job.
I’m currently part of a face-to-face plus class as well, and I take no issue with it. I do not feel it inhibits the class experience at all. I actually think it adds to it, because a few of our online students are of a different age range and they add their own unique perspective to the material.
Most students at Castleton still feel the school is as it was, at least in the ways that matter to them.
And that’s great. I’m an advocate for being positive, and for “being the change you wish to see,” to quote Ghandi.
But I do think we need to acknowledge that something happened. Maybe the effects won’t take place immediately, but the future is different. At least to people who weren’t aware of Castleton before it became VTSU Castleton.