Concerns of last spring continue into September

Whether or not you can believe it, once again it’s September, once again we’re at Vassar, and once again it’s time to talk about the things that we’ll see making headlines this semester. By no means is this an expectation or prediction of the things that we’ll see come on (or off) the radar this semester. Instead, think of this as a piece that looks at some of the things that came up last year as concerns and will perhaps make a return this coming semester. For one, it’s important to remember that as you’ve probably already seen (and heard) Vassar’s science buildings are undergoing a serious makeover. This makeover includes renovations to such buildings as Sanders Physics and Olmstead, and also includes the construction of our new Integrated Science Building, or “The Bridge,” as it’s been referred to since, after all, it is going to be a bridge. Both of these projects are going to offer immense amounts of resources to students pursuing the sciences here at Vassar, as well offer more spaces for not just departments, but also lab spaces and even organization spaces for students. I sincerely think these projects will all collectively offer much for the college to benefit when the project completes in 2016, assuming everything stays on schedule. However, it’s worth noting that while we have seen much to gain from the renovation of many campus facilitations and construction of The Bridge, our long-term debt continues to rise and our endowment still stands on shaky ground in the wake from the recession. While we are finally (as of this year) finally seeing our endowment return to a level that is higher than pre-recession levels, fiscally the college still is hard at work trying to maintain its status of need-blind admissions and need-based financial aid while still trying to bring much-needed improvements to the campus with respect to our facilities, residential spaces, campus grounds, and more. Our Master Plans of course dictate all of these efforts and their on-going attempt to make a better campus, though this all continues to be a rather complicated can of worms that has indirectly affected those at Vassar ranging from students to faculty and employees of the college alike. President Hill nonetheless certainly deserves commendation for continuing to maintain a Need-blind institution like Vassar, handing out more than $50 million a year in scholarships, grants, and other offers of financial aid. I’m excited to see what our incoming VP of Finance and Administration plans to help Vassar navigate as we hopefully take advantage of the opportunity to grow despite these past few years of hardship. Socially, a lot of issues are likely to come in the coming months, though one worth noting that will return in the coming months is the concern of divestment. Divestment continues to be a hot topic among the students of many collegiate institutions including Vassar with respect to the Fossil Fuel Industry. One of the student organizations leading the divestment movement has been the Vassar Greens, who have been pushing for a sweeping end of investment in companies with connections to the Fossil Fuel Industry within the next four or five years. The Greens met with CIRC and had some discourse regarding this, though I hope the topic does not evaporate now that the summer has passed. Though the specifics of divestment are extremely complex, I sincerely hope discourse continues regarding this effort. If you’re a freshman here, I sincerely hope you will enjoy your time here. All of these topics are things that may or may not matter to you, and all I can say is that I always hope for a resolution that most greatly benefits the students of Vassar College. Still, the only way to have a resolution that most greatly benefits us as students is to be active in the projects that matter to you, and to start getting involved early on. Whether it’s within a campus organization, community service group, the Vassar Student Association, or some other means, getting involved is the only way to assure the potential for our voices to be heard. That all said, these are all very important issues and events that will likely (or have already) come back onto our radar as students. I look forward to seeing how each one is addressed by the Vassar Community as a whole.

—Joshua Sherman ‘16 is an English Major.

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