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Letters to the Editor (4/14/21)


Published April 14, 2021 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated May 4, 2021 at 2:55 p.m.

Whither UVM?

[Re Off Message: "Amid Uproar Against Garimella, UVM Warns a Faculty Critic," March 29]: The president, the provost and other leaders at the University of Vermont are asking us to imagine new possibilities and approaches for UVM. They are doing this because they want our university — and its students and graduates — to thrive for the years, decades and centuries to come. And they are doing it now because we are at a pivotal moment for higher education in this nation and around the world.

We may disagree on the merits of some of the plans being proposed, but the commitment and the inclusive approach of our leadership are evident. We must hear and support one another as we move through this process. And we must ensure that our priorities — the education and well-being of our students, the knowledge we create and share, and a strong future for the University of Vermont — remain in place.

We are confident that these are priorities we all share. It is important that they remain front and center as we work together — as faculty, staff and administrators — to establish our path forward.

Deans: Noma Anderson, College of Nursing and Health Sciences; Cynthia Belliveau, Continuing and Distance Education; William Falls, College of Arts and Sciences; Cynthia Forehand, Graduate School; Bryn Geffert, Libraries; David Jenemann, Honors College; Nancy Mathews, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources; Richard Page, Larner College of Medicine; Leslie Parise, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Linda Schadler, College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences; Sanjay Sharma, Grossman School of Business; and Scott Thomas, College of Education and Social Services

Big Maple

[Re "A New Leaf," March 31]: Anne Wallace Allen's article on New Leaf Tree Syrups highlights a long-standing problem: the industrialization of Vermont's countryside. That industrialization takes many forms: big-time tree-tapping operations, wind farm factories on ridge lines, forest harvests for biomass and, not least, slime-mold-like real estate developments posing as ski areas.

The article reminded me of what Ernest Hemingway said good writers have: "a built-in, shockproof shit detector." The Vermont Natural Resource Council's Jon Groveman triggered mine, which sounded like the klaxon on a submarine. Though instead of a captain shouting, "Dive, dive," I heard the Bee Gees' song "Jive Talkin'" going off like a persistent ringtone in my soul.

My colleague Justin Lindholm has long warned of these massive sap operations, including those up in the Northeast Kingdom and down in the Chittenden-Mendon area. Now, when industrial sap appears in his backyard, Groveman finds religion. "They're exempt from everything because they're considered agriculture," he rightly claims, listing exemptions from zoning and wetlands laws.

Where has Groveman been? Might he and VNRC have been too busy conjuring Act 250 exemptions for their own favored projects? (See Kevin McCallum's "Housing Bill Advances Despite Water Pollution Concerns," March 26.) Seriously, I believe VNRC and its coterie of coconspirators want to do to Act 250 what right-wingers want to do to government: shrink it so they can drown it in a bathtub ... of polluted Lake Champlain water!

Bruce S. Post


Find and Prosecute Taggers

[Re Off Message: "Art Broken: A Mural Defaced, Then Cleaned Up, in the Old North End," March 30; "Tag Team," February 17]: The pandemic of graffiti in Burlington knows no bounds. Vandals have now defiled one of Tony Shull's beautiful murals in the Old North End. The city says it will start cleaning up graffiti now that the weather is warm enough to paint over defacements. But that's not enough. It needs to convene a task force with a mandate to seek, apprehend and prosecute taggers. Part and parcel of any punishment should be assignment to a public works crew tasked with cleaning up this malicious damage to public property.

Jack T. Scully


Short on Savings

Many thanks for Kevin McCallum's article on the state pension crisis ["Pension Pinch," March 31]. Things should never have gone this far. It is sad that the working people who labored for these pensions were slated to take the beating for the irresponsibility of past administrations and legislatures of both parties. Kudos to those brave administrators, such as state Treasurer Beth Pearce, for keeping it up front, and House Speaker Jill Krowinski for having the courage to see that she made a mistake.

This is just the beginning. A bigger crisis is coming, also caused by the profound irresponsibility of our federal and state leaders. It is the tens of thousands of working people in Vermont and the millions across America who have no pensions. Many of them, like me, will have to work into our seventies, eighties and even nineties. Social Security is not nearly enough for retirement. It might be if our national politicians would stop subsidizing their mania for corporate tax cuts with our Social Security Trust Fund.

A 401k, which now passes for most retirement pensions, is another abdication of responsibility. These simply leave the employee to the moods of Wall Street, where a life's savings could disappear in a moment and without any predictable benefits.

All these millions of us without pensions, too little Social Security and unpredictable 401ks are coming down the road to haunt federal and state budgets, and there is nothing to stop this from hitting us.

Walter Carpenter


More Diversity, Please

I was thoroughly disappointed that last week's issue did not cover the shooting in Atlanta. As national news, a hate crime and yet another mass shooting in the U.S., I find it unnerving that there was no article addressing the racial bias, gun violence and white supremacy involved. As a part of the BIPOC community here in Vermont, I think it is a disservice not to cover events such as this. There could be an entire column dedicated to BIPOC events, workshops, organizations, news, etc., preferably written by a member of the BIPOC community, that would bring a much-needed change to the content of the recent issues.

Lily Hammerling


Editor's note: Seven Days is a local newspaper that covers Vermont news, culture and events. We write about national tragedies as they relate to our state and the people who live here. To that end, last week's collection of stories, "Bracing for Impact," contained an essay, "Minor Anxiety," that directly addressed the shooting in Atlanta; author Stephanie Cuepo Wobby is Filipino American. The poem "Familiarity," by Devyn Thompson, touched on white supremacy. Thompson, who is Black, is a sophomore at Northern Vermont University. That same issue contained a story about a Vietnamese restaurant, an interview with a Chinese American children's book illustrator, and a review of the Ivory Coast film Night of the Kings. The previous issue of Seven Days, published on March 31, had four stories with BIPOC subjects.