Student group isn’t giving up

The Board of Trustees’ meeting held Feb. 7 went uninterrupted until its end when students began to protest.

Present for the duration of the meeting, members of Student Climate Culture (SCC) waited until the end to voice their demands that the University divest from fossil fuels.

The meeting was held in the Silver Maple Ballroom in the Davis Center, and was followed by the budget, finance and investment committee. 

SCC members entered the meeting holding up small orange sheets of paper that read, “UVM said NO to divestment.”

Two SCC leaders, one being senior Ian Goodnow, proceeded to walk up to the group of trustees.

“UVM must divest from fossil fuels. The legacy that your board has set is not one that we or this University are prepared to leave,” Goodnow said. “We want fossil fuels out of the endowment.” 

The SCC members left the trustees singing the song “We Shall Overcome” repeatedly. 

The meeting was then adjourned. 

“It was great that SCC had a small demonstration to show that they are still passionate about their movement,” Connor Daley, SGA president, said.

“In general, demonstrations at the board have their value in informing members of pressing issues for the UVM community.

“But I don’t believe they have much weight in the actual decision-making process,” Daley said.

Prior to this occurrence, students and faculty members alike filed into the seating area as the meeting began at 8 a.m. 

Robert Cioffi, outgoing chair of the board of trustees, began the meeting with a reflection on what the university looked like 12 years ago. 

Specifically, there was no honors college, student applications were down and the overall mood on campus was not great at that time, he said.

Fast forward to 2014 and “things are looking great around here,” Cioffi said.  

“We have a thriving honors college, 24,000 applications, and a $420 million endowment,” he said. 

He then expressed his concern about what he stated as the prevalent myth that UVM is expensive for in-state students. 

President Tom Sullivan spoke next and praised the University community for its selectivity in regard to applicants. 

The University has achieved an “86 percent retention rate from freshman to sophomore year,” Sullivan said. 

Later in the meeting, Daley presented his quarterly report to the board which addressed SGA’s budget and student body issues. 

Following Daley others were able to speak. 

The discussion suddenly became centered around a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) project update. 

This was presented by David Rosowsky, provost and senior vice president and Bob Vaughn, director of capital planning and management. 

The project plans to replace the Cook Science building and construct a new building for Votey  Hall.

The new building will include laboratories for organic chemistry and other classes, Rosowsky said.

Cook will need to replace all of its equipment in order to be up to par with other universities, he said.

 The Universities include the University of New Hampshire and Holy Cross, which were two of the schools that UVM looked to for inspiration and comparison, Rosowsky said.

The project will cost upwards of $100 million, he said.

However, it will “benefit all students at UVM because of new opportunities and claim its place among top research universities,” Rosowsky said.