Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Marlboro Town Meeting addresses students’ concerns for future of campus

Head Selectperson Charlie Hickman addresses the Marlboro Town Meeting. Lizzie Heintz / Beacon Staff

MARLBORO, Vt.—Marlboro College President Kevin Quigley informed his community members Wednesday that it is not up to them to decide the fate of the campus—directly addressing concerns students raised about the future of the small liberal arts school on Potash Hill. 

“I want to be really clear with the community: This is a decision that is going to be made by the Board of Trustees,” Quigley said at a Marlboro Town Meeting. “This is their decision. This is not a community decision.”

The decision made by the Marlboro Board of Trustees must then be approved by the Emerson Board of Trustees.

The meeting follows the announcement last week of a proposed merger between Emerson and Marlboro where the Vermont institution will donate its $30 million endowment and $10 million worth of real estate to the Boston school. The deal is in its early stages with many pressing questions left unanswered. 

Town Meeting is a weekly forum of the Marlboro campus and the surrounding townspeople, where the community makes recommendations to the college through Selectboard, a group of Marlboro students and faculty who get elected to lead the meeting. Town Meeting Clerk Felix Bieneman, a junior at Marlboro, said Town Meeting started because Marlboro did not originally have staff. Instead, the faculty all had administrative roles and voted on college-wide decisions in Town Meeting.

To receive accreditation and federal aid, the college created a staff, which now takes recommendations from Town Meeting and attempts to act on them.

The meeting then went to their scheduled agenda, which included a transition update from Quigley. The update included an announcement that several senior administrators including President M. Lee Pelton from Emerson would be on the Marlboro campus Nov. 20 to attend Town Meeting and do a campus visit.

Quigley also announced an informal visit to Emerson on Nov. 24.

“[Marlboro] college will be organizing transportation for students and faculty—we’ll get buses, vans, whatever we need,” Quigley said. “The program will involve a lunch at 12:30 and a performance of a one-act play called Iliad and a discussion afterwards.”

Quigley said they are still working out logistics, but that he is discussing a tour of campus for Marlboro students visiting Emerson. 
Quigley then announced the establishment of five working groups on Marlboro’s side for the transition to Emerson. There will be groups for the future of the campus, student life, staff, finances, and faculty.

There will be nine positions on the working group for the future of the Marlboro campus. 

The positions include Dick Saudek, chair of the Board of Trustees at Marlboro; board member Phil Steckler; and one representative from the Marlboro student body, faculty, and staff. There will also be one alumni representative and one member of the town of Marlboro, elected by Selectboard. Former vice-chair of the Board of Trustees Sara Coffey and Marlboro alumnus Dean Nicyper will lead the working group as co-chairs. 

Quigley also said the Marlboro Music Festival would be invited to participate in the working group because of the 99-year lease the festival signed with Marlboro.

Selectboard opened online nominations for the student representative of the working group on Wednesday. The nomination process closes Thursday, and a vote on the nominees will take place next week.

Members of the community then repeatedly asked Quigley why there were not more spaces allocated on the working group for students, staff, and faculty. Quigley said that because of the pace at which the committees need to move, it is best for efficiency to have only one representative from each of those categories. 

Quigley said the other working groups are still being formed, but told attendees that there will be student, faculty, and staff representatives on all five committees.

Town Meeting then moved to pass a resolution to the Selectboard bylaws to allow the Head Selectperson to be paid. The money for the compensation would come out of the Marlboro Community Activity fund, and the Head Selectperson will be offered a stipend based on a ten-hour per week work-study position.

During the meeting, Head Selectperson Charlie Hickman started the meeting with an address to the community, which filled the college’s dining hall. They spoke about the compassion they saw last Wednesday. 

“There’s such a wide range of emotions—excitement, despair, fear—[and] I just want to acknowledge that those are all valid,” Hickman said. “Last Wednesday I was filled with so much love for this community … The amount of compassion and caring across this campus over the past week has been really astounding to me, and just reminds me why I came here, why I love this place.”

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About the Contributor
Jacob Seitz
Jacob Seitz, Staff Writer
Jacob Seitz is originally from Central Ohio and resides in Cambridge. He is currently a staff writer at The Beacon, having previously served as Assistant Express Editor. He was previously Assistant Editor of The Record, the student newspaper at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, OH. He has covered The Women’s March, The Straight Pride Parade, and has reported on the Massachusetts State House for the Beacon. He led The Beacon’s coverage of Emerson College’s acquisition of Marlboro College, and has been published in The Brattleboro Commons in Brattleboro, Vt.

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