A note from the Editor…

I wrote last issue about the tremendous uproar that is to come here in Northern Vermont, and the fallout that might occur. I want to delve further into an area that I feel very strongly about– the culture of Johnson moving forward.
Johnson State College had been, for a long time, the weird little campus on the hill. It was a haven for freakazoids and weirdoes, those that didn’t fit in elsewhere. We welcomed people like Margo Warden and Emily Neilsen, who engaged thousands of students in critical, creative discussions about real-world, important work. Johnson was square-peg-in-round-hole utopia. It produced incredible groups of artists, musicians, scientists, thinkers and lovers who are spending their days making the world a better place. It fostered the Pizza Club, Humans vs Zombies and all kinds of other weird get-togethers!
It was nerdy and awesome and we LOVED it that way. That was the Johnson I applied to.
In the effort for NVU, we thought less about our individual strengths and more about unification– somewhat rightfully so. NVU didn’t have a predecessor to follow footsteps; we had a vision and a dream and a legislature behind us. We made, as a cartoon skunk once said, “beautiful muzic togezzer!”
But we felt frustrated by the Lyndonification of Johnson, and vice versa. Lots of my cohort, along with those above, felt that while Elaine Collins maintained her presidency, the floor fell out from underneath us. As Basement Medicine, we suddenly started hearing the phrase, “Oh, I’m at Lyndon that day…” when asking for interviews… a lot. We got fewer answers as to whys and hows and whens, and President Collins’ emails started sounding less like her and more like press releases.
Then the pandemic, and the closure crisis and Zoom college full-time. We are being stonewalled through every possible avenue. In the case of several stories we attempted to run this issue, we were simply met with total radio silence from one or more sources.
This shift in attitude has reflected the culture shift here at Johnson, where we have become a closed-off community rather than the open-armed one we were before. We allowed ourselves to get caught up in the wave of NVU without realizing that we’d lost our identity entirely.
With the advent of Vermont State Whatever, we have some soul-searching to do. Do we plant our freak flag and let it fly once more? Do we sound our barbaric YAWP across the rooftops of the sky? If we want to see that for our future, we need to enact it today.
I see that old Johnson energy being revitalized in our new hires in Student Services, and reignited in those who work alongside them. I see people like Jonathan Davis, our Dean of Students and coordinator of all things COVID-19, working harder than was thought previously possible to make sure that our students can get the testing, vaccinations and health care they need.
I want to be very clear: I am immensely grateful for the people at this university who make it what it is– faculty, staff, students, administrators. You are all incredible human beings with immense power to steer this place right– towards equity, social justice and respect for all.
We are more than a University that serves Vermonters. We are an organization that changes lives by way of harnessing the most untapped resource in the state- its people. Those people, who came before us, who are among us and who will come after us, deserve the opportunity to experience this institution as it was meant to be: a haven of higher learning on a wacky little hill in wacky little Johnson.
I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for us and Lyndon– they are in a unique position to recapture their campus culture and welcome their own gang of misfits.
The sun will come out eventually, friends, and we will skateboard and sunbathe and hug each other on the quad til we’re breathless.
Until then, Johnson, stay weird.

-Rebecca Flieder
Editor in Chief