Alyssa Slaimen of Wolcott, a political science junior at Johnson State College, has been elected to a one-year term on the Vermont State Colleges (VSC) Board of Trustees.
Slaimen will serve as the sole student trustee of the 15-member board, which oversees the five state colleges serving more than 12,000 students. She was elected by the VSC Student Government Association for the 2014-15 school year.
“A student trustee is a student advocate for social issues and concerns,” Slaimen said. “I will be the mediator between the students and the Board of Trustees to bring the student perspective to the policies they will be discussing.”
Slaimen already is a familiar face in Vermont’s State House. She spent the 2014 spring semester as a legislative assistant to JSC Political Science Professor William Doyle and Richard Westman, both Republican senators from Lamoille County. She also serves as a delegate on the Lamoille County Democratic Committee.
She already is reaching out to legislators, trustees and others with whom she will be working.
She hopes to focus on attraction and retention of college students, including offering incentives to keep them in Vermont. She recognizes that college affordability is an issue – especially after this year’s tuition increase for the VSC – but she knows there is no quick or simple fix.
Thus, Slaimen plans to explore ideas that bring more immediate results. For instance, she believes that JSC and the other VSC campuses could attract more students by continuing to showcase the colleges’ rural settings.
“I also plan reach out to Vermont seniors who are in high school to talk about the possibilities they could have at a VSC institution, considering Vermont is in the bottom 10 states for high school seniors that continue with their education after graduating,” she said.
Slaimen also looks forward to having a say in who will be the next JSC president. In August, President Barbara E. Murphy announced she would retire on June 30, 2015. Slaimen is one of five VSC trustees on the search committee for hiring a new JSC president. She also had a vote in the September appointment of Jeb Spaulding as VSC’s new chancellor. Spaulding begins in mid-January.
“I am going to be a student advocate,” she said. “If people are frustrated, I want to hear about it, because I want people to feel like they have a stake in the system so they don’t feel like they need to go somewhere else to get their voice heard.”