The student-run community news site of Vermont State University - Johnson

Basement Medicine

The student-run community news site of Vermont State University - Johnson

Basement Medicine

The student-run community news site of Vermont State University - Johnson

Basement Medicine

First Month Madness

First+Month+Madness

The year began with a fire alarm. On the first day of classes, students at Johnson were put in a compromising situation when, in the middle of classes, a pipe burst in the entrance of the Willey Library. At the alarm, students made their way down the stairs to the first floor, where they were made aware that the doors had been shut and locked.
Evidence of this event is displayed by gaping holes in the ceiling of the entrance, the damage visible to all who enter the building. While no one was harmed, students nervously laughed at the situation, grateful it hadn’t been more serious.
Students, staff, and faculty all entered the semester with optimism. The wildness of the previous semesters seemed to have reached a head, and despite the obvious emptiness looming after the loss of many essential faces as a result, the unification process was underway. All that’s left to do is solidify cross-campus connections.
Said Julie Theoret, the standing chair of the Department of Computer Science, Mathematics, and Statistics, “I think we get along well, and we’re working to get the math placement system more equitable and clear.”
While there has been some difficulty communicating across campuses, professors expressed their perseverance through increasing workloads to make consolidation smooth and seamless.
“Even things like putting the schedule together for next semester takes so much work, because we’re trying to coordinate on different campuses,” said Lisa Zinn, Assistant Professor for the Science Department. “The number of professors on this campus has gone down enough that it’s just not that many of us … it’s been challenging.”
Theoret also expressed frustration with the speed at which staff and faculty have been asked to complete tasks, while higher administration has longer periods of time.
One of the biggest sources of frustration has been that no one has been able to answer student questions arising about the outcomes or processes of the unification procedures. Many of the staff members in charge of things like student concerns were let go during the previous semester, so it is unclear who is supposed to handle them now.
“I used to know who to go to, and now I don’t. A lot of things are still not on the VTSU Directory,” said Theoret. “I just wanted the phone number of a staff person who I know is on the Johnson campus. I typed their name into the directory, and they don’t exist.”
Though we’ve been dealing with them since the start of the pandemic, technological issues have still proven to be a difficulty for some classes. At the beginning of the year, we heard of more than one course, offered at multiple campuses via face-to-face-plus, being assigned to a room without the ability to host online students. Some professors still haven’t figured out the best ways to use Zoom for their classes, resulting in some unfavorable circumstances.
For other students, it is the high number of Zoom classes that are making their college experience less than desirable. Out-of-state students, like Alana Lewis, have become increasingly upset about having to sit through Zoom classes for most of the day.
“Many upper-level classes for my major are only offered over Zoom or asynchronously,” said Lewis. “It makes me feel stuck in getting a partially online degree that I didn’t ask for. I moved 1,300 miles away from home for a reason.”
“Everyone’s really tired on campus,” said Emerson Bemus, a senior in the Political Science degree program. “Every person I talk to is drained of energy, talking about how stressed they are, and even during the first few days of classes, people would talk about how they didn’t want to be there.”
But despite all the uncertainty, the campus community seems to be the driving force for everyone.
Said Zinn, “The students are always the highlight for me. Being in the classroom, feeling their energy, feeling like they care about what happens.”
Unsurprisingly, students have expressed feeling the same way about their faculty and staff.
“My professors have played such an important role in terms of my emotions this semester,” responded Bekkah Lambert, an English Secondary Education student, highlighting English Professor Jensen Beach as an example. “They bend over backwards to accommodate us and lend a helping hand to make sure we make it to the end, it’s something I appreciate more than they could ever know.”
Students are also excited for the change in season, blaming seasonal depression in conjunction with the transformation-related events of the last few semesters as the reason for the low energy. Said Bemis, he believes the warmer weather and sunshine will get students more excited and eager to participate in campus activities, especially as senior week nears.
Erin Lamotte, the President of the eSports Club, wrote, “Student involvement has been low, although we are getting more members slowly. I think once the seasons change it might help. I’m excited about running the club this semester because I’m more informed about running a club because I’ve had more experience now.”
It’s clear that the students, faculty, and staff at VTSU-Johnson are dedicated to making sure that the changes made on and around the institution are made for the better. The unwavering commitment to building a solid foundation and welcoming environment, and the eagerness to maintain them, is the light in the dark for all those remaining on the campus and the greater Johnson community.

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Dayne Bell, Editor in Chief
Dayne (he/they) is a creative writing student who has probably already told you where he's from. His zodiac sign is Pisces, which tells you everything you need to know.

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