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

“Just push ’em all together.”

Frankensteins Paper
Dayne Bell
Frankenstein’s Paper

In order to support the concept of “One University,” all VSTU publications, Johnson’s Basement Medicine, Castleton’s Castleton Spartan, and Lyndon’s The Critic are to be merged into one, unified, undesigned publication. At least, that’s what university administrators told Basement Medicine last week. At the time of writing, after all interviews for this article were completed, we were informed that the discussions surrounding these changes had been shelved. We have no additional information about when or if the conversation will continue, but chances are this idea will be back, sooner or later.
According to English Professor Jensen Beach, he was made aware of this announcement when, after submitting his class recommendations for the upcoming semester, he was told that the two courses that included the publishing of Basement Medicine were not approved, because they would not be offered at Johnson. Instead, students would be able to participate in the joint publication that would be housed at the Castleton campus. This was very confusing information for the BM staff and faculty, as the information provided in interviews suggested that there was no solid decision made about where, or how, the new VTSU publication was to be operated.
Said Nolan Atkins, the Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost, “We’re trying to thread the needle between preserving history and culture at the legacy institutions while we create a new culture, a unified culture, as a unified, singly accredited institution … The question naturally is, with these three publications, how do we move forward?”
Because each campus operates their publication a little differently, coming up with a plan for a single, joint paper across the VTSU system would be an extremely difficult process.
Said Atkins, “We’ll know the answer after the programs complete their optimization work. The programs at Lyndon and Castleton have been tasked with revising their program to meet the optimization goals.”
The “goals” of the Final Optimization 2.0 Report, released on October 31, states that the plan is to “Make major revisions to the program that ensures consolidation, differentiation between campuses, and relevance.” The draft released earlier that month also included a consolidation of “programming and curriculum related to film theory, analysis, and production and print journalism to Castleton,” and the earlier assumptions about the future of journalism for VTSU were that the higher administrators were working towards that vision.
The students, staff, and faculty interviewed during this time also shared concerns about the preservation of each publication’s identity, as they each focus on local issues and news within the communities they inhabit.
“Student papers are part of campus identities,” said Meaghan Meachem, a Professor at Lyndon and faculty advisor for The Critic. “To assume that merging them is a solution doesn’t acknowledge the student voice, and is inappropriate.”
Said Talbott, “My hope is that the paper would reflect the fact that we have five different campuses, and they are in five different geographic locations, and they’re by five different sets of towns or urban centers … and that we’ll be able to attract students from each of those campuses who want to contribute and want to be the voice.”
“I share your concerns, trust me. And so do the Spartan students,” said David Blow, the faculty advisor for Castleton Spartan. “I think it can work. I think people need to want to make it work. If you give me a little bit of effort, I promise you I’m giving it back more.”
Currently, The Critic is published online only, and Castleton Spartan and Basement Medicine are published both online and in print. Multiple ideas have been thrown around about how to best go about this proposed unification, and while operations online may be as simple as designing a new website (not very simple at all), figuring out the best way to print and distribute the new paper among all campuses will prove to be even more challenging.
Said Blow, “We get printed up near Lake Placid. I drive there at 7:30 to pick up the papers,” and he and the practicum students deliver the papers in town and around the campus. And while the printing location is different, the same is true for Basement Medicine. The papers are printed out of state, and they must be picked up in the morning and brought to Johnson for distribution.
“The logistics of delivering to Lyndon, Johnson, VTC, that’s got to be figured out,” said Blow.
In response to the news, Pearl Bellomo, the Managing Editor of the Castleton Spartan, said, “I can say I do feel disheartened, along with other members of our team. The longstanding history of the Castleton Spartan and significance to our campus being the key reason. We have other concerns as well, such as the feasibility of distributing physical copies to multiple campuses. However, we agree that our own personal feelings would not interfere with positive contribution to a new publication.”
Bellomo continued, “This past year has been difficult – from library upset, administrative and program cuts, to merging of extracurriculars such as student government and the student newspaper, I urge higher administrators to view the full picture of all the changes taking place. To many students, it feels as though we are being strewn about with changes. Regardless of where you stand on the issues, it’s incredibly stressful. We need to evaluate where to best put our efforts – what can change, and what is OK as it is.”
The consensus among all three affected publications seems to be that there are no objections to working together. The Critic, Basement Medicine, and Castleton Spartan have always been happy to collaborate, share resources, and uplift each other’s voices. The teams for each stand united, supporting their desires to stay individual, community-centered publications, and are disappointed, once again, by having been left out of conversations that directly affect their campus identities and community experiences.

View Comments (1)
More to Discover
About the Contributor
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.

Comments (1)

All Basement Medicine Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • W

    Winston SmithMar 11, 2024 at 3:52 pm

    One publication is easier to “control” than three. Obvious payback for that recent op-ed that called for balanced cuts that **include** those in central service/chancellors!

    Reply