Slade still working to keep local food

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(Left) Junior Shiona Heidrich-Klein and sophomore Kiki Kane-Ow- ens cook in the Slade community at Trinity Cottages April 4. RYAN THORNTON/The Vermont Cynic
(Left) Junior Shiona Heidrich-Klein and sophomore Kiki Kane-Ow-
ens cook in the Slade community at Trinity Cottages April 4.
RYAN THORNTON/The Vermont Cynic

In response to mounting outcry from Slade residents, ResLife proposed a compromise that would no longer mean the end of Slade as an independent community.

Instead of absorbing Slade into the GreenHouse program, which is housed in University Heights South, ResLife announced Slade will remain a separate environmental co-op in the cottages on Trinity Campus.

However, not all of the Slade community’s demands, spelled out in their formal petition and resolution on change.org, have been met. Their request to remain off the traditional meal plan has been denied, and met with compromise from ResLife which  “will allow them to maintain some of their traditions, as well as closeness and access to local food.”

“They can participate and have a regular plan, or we’ve provided them additional options that allow them access to quality food, local food,”  co-director of ResLife Rafael Rodriguez said.

As a past residence director of the Slade community when it was originally housed on 420 South Prospect Street, Rodriguez said he has a unique understanding of and relationship to the community.

“I was involved with the process of them being moved to the cottages on Trinity,” he said. “I’ve helped navigate challenging times between Slade and ResLife.”

While the announcement that Slade will remain in the cottages for another year has been well-received, not all residents find the compromises appealing. .

“It’s kind of frustrating,” junior Slade resident Shiona Heidrich-Klein said. “I don’t think they fully understand why some aspects of what Slade means are so critical to the community staying exactly as it is, and as it has been for years now.”

She cited the meal plan change as an important issue.  “ResLife now says next year’s Sladers need to be on the points meal plan for $1900 per semester. That plan includes normally about 1400 points and 25 meal swipes.

“What they’re saying is Sladers would keep 25 meal swipes and 400 points, and the other 1,000 points are going to be returned to us for the conversion rate of $400 that we can use toward farmers.

“That’s a $600 overhead that they claim is the conversion of points to dollars, when the conversion rate of points to dollars is actually 1 to 1, or I’d argue it’s even less,” Heidrich-Klein said.

Currently, they buy their food locally from farmers and co-ops. Heidrich-Klein estimates that each Slader pays only $400 per semester to do that.

“That is exponentially cheaper than any meal plan,” she said.

Some Slade residents said they feel it’s odd they should fight for this meal plan in a school so focused on the environment.

“Our classes are saying we need to preserve diversity, community organizing, local food systems,” Heidrich-Klein said. “Slade represents everything that we’ve been taught about the environment at UVM, these ideas that university claims to support.”

Though their housing in the cottages for an additional year is confirmed, important debate remains regarding just how autonomous Slade will continue to be in coming years.