Slade students to relocate downtown

The meeting on Hungerford for Slade’s off-campus housing began atypically; before introductions – name, pronouns, years you’ve lived in Slade, spirit vegetable – students joined hands, enjoying a moment of complete quiet, peace and togetherness.

The goal of the meeting: “To figure out what Slade’s going to look like next year,” junior Halsey Payne said, “one step of many.”

“Right now we’re looking for [two] houses,” sophomore Kiki Kane Owens said. “We think one would be too small for all that we’re trying to accomplish.”

“I’m here looking for communal space, a sweet kitchen, a yard,” junior Sarah Feigelman said. “Also, ideally, I’m looking for a music space. I think it’s important to have place for musical growth and activity.”

The group shared their visions of the following years and what they had loved about Slade in the past, like mismatched silverware and family meals, as well as what they could do to help the movement.

Ousted from their long-time home on 420 South Prospect St. in 2015, the program moved to on-campus housing in Trinity campus’s Cottages for the 2015-2016 school year.slade_color

This effectively made them part of UVM’s housing structure, which includes a meal plan, age limits for who could live on campus and ResLife’s conditions.

“Save Slade” was a movement ignited by these changes that fought to preserve what made their structure so unique.

Once unbound by a meal plan, Slade originally had members contribute money to buy food from local farmers, creating a bond with local, sustainable agriculture.  

Once they moved to the cottages, the University proposed that students go on the meal plan, giving up the autonomy they had living off-campus in the original Slade Hall.

While Slade’s campaign was effective and found a compromise with ResLife, the co-op is looking for more of a permanent solution, one with the same independence Slade once enjoyed.

“Slade thrives by being unique and being an outlier,” Payne said, “and we need something that’s structured and can last. This is our 46th year, and we’re hoping for another 50. We want to build a lasting institution.”

Payne, an environmental studies major, is making this his culminating project, one that brings together academia and a cause dear to him.

Guiding the meeting and conversation, he spoke with a certainty that reflected deep care, with other Sladers there referring to him as “Dad” nearly as often as his name.

“The University offered us 420 South Prospect back possibly by next year. We decided not to take that,” Payne said. “It comes with the meal plan, and we’d have to be part of the wellness program. So we decided to move off campus, get exemptions for freshmen and sophomores to live with us, modeled after fraternities and sororities, and get exempted from the meal plan by doing that.”

He also spoke to a much larger idea: “I think we’ll incorporate as a non-profit, or maybe a socially-oriented for-profit,” he said.

The goals and visions talked about for Slade were boundless. Leases were discussed as well as, location and the possibility of a garden; a future. The energy and determination grew as the evening passed.

“We have a lot to figure out, and it’s going to be so fun,” Owens said in regards to the next chapter of Slade.