To the editor: Keep Vermont State Colleges independent

Closing NVU-Lyndon, NVU-Johnson, and Vermont Technical College’s Randolph campus would migrate Vermont’s higher educational engine to the Champlain Valley. The Burlington metropolitan area already exerts economic and political dominance over the rest of the state, especially the Northeast Kingdom and southern Vermont. Depriving Vermonters of access to educational and cultural resources in this manner would be unfair and inequitable.

The Vermont State College system deserves to maintain its autonomy and identity independent of the Burlington-based University of Vermont. The free exchange of ideas and speech has fallen under attack on American college campuses. VSC can and should meet the real and unmet need for intellectual diversity in higher education. We will attract intellectually curious and hungry young people from across the nation by positioning our institutions as bastions of free speech.

Hire intellectually diverse faculty in the humanities and social sciences. Offer select trade specialties on each campus and strive to make these programs the best in the nation.

We are in this predicament for three reasons.

First, declining student enrollments follow the general abandonment of Vermont by middle class families. Why? Because of the lack of upwardly mobile careers, punishing taxes, heavy-handed regulations in every aspect of the economy, and the inability of younger people to create wealth or own property in this state.

Second, decades of financial malpractice characterized by spending billions on first-in-the-nation projects (e.g. OneCare VT’s All-Payer), which consistently fail to achieve their goals but are continually forgiven and funded by those in power.

Third, the state does not equitably fund our public educational institutions (K-12 to post-secondary), for which pressure from the VT-NEA and the legislature’s Chittenden County-centric politics are to blame.

Unless Vermonters elect leaders who will correct these systemic wrongs and implement policies of pro-economic growth, the VSC system will be the first of many dominoes to fall.

Meg Hansen

Meg Hansen is a candidate for lieutenant governor.

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