Burlington, VT– The Burlington College Community was notified of a series of restructuring decisions on the part of the current administration including the gutting of many of the art programs. A fixture of the Burlington College experience for many years, the school’s Film and Cinema Studies department is being reduced to less than one third of its current full time size. Also targeted are the Fine Arts department and the innovative Media Activism program.
Without transparency, this information was leaked to Burlington College students and alumni who immediately began organizing to secure their beloved identity, community values, and faculty. In response, the administration held meetings to discourage students from protesting including directly threatening multiple students with dismissal from their Burlington College employment. Holding a private meeting on Friday, students gathered to discuss the future of the school. They decided to dissolve the existing student government in favor a student union that operates with direct democracy.
Former Student Government President, David Littlefield said, “I have resigned from student government in favor of a more democratic Student Union. Our voice has not been reflected in these controversial changes. We do not consent to our tuition dollars being used to fund poverty wages and real estate development rather than “fostering the just, humane society,” outlined in the mission statement of the Burlington College we used to know.”
Athena Pepe, a first year Media Activism student said “I came to Burlington College specifically for the media activism program. I feel as though I have been sold a future that is no longer available to me. These unfair firings show that the administration is not acting in the best interest of the students and betraying the fundamental values and character of the school.”
Widely condemned among the student body, faculty members were offered the impossible decision of suddenly being demoted to poverty wages or being terminated outright. When asked about the decision being made at the administration level, several faculty members described the rapidly unfolding situation as “an absolutely horrible direction for the school to go in.” A climate of fear has cast faculty members of the progressive college as hesitant to directly discuss the restructuring process, often looking over their shoulders before engaging in discussions about the departure of their long time coworkers.
Ned McEleney said, “The school is at an ideological crossroads. Either we allow the Plunkett administration to take us towards a corporate model where administrators make decisions with our money behind closed doors and push faculty downwards to poverty wages, or the students organize and create the just, humane college we were promised.”