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Letters to the Editor (8/27/14) 

Better Days at Burlington College

I chose Burlington College because of the smaller campus ["Pass or Fail," August 20]. Like many students, I was in my early twenties and wanted to continue my education. A week after I started classes, my father passed away from a heart attack. I was despondent, yet I knew the minute the staff and students embraced me that I was in the appropriate school. The professors alleviated my concerns and kept me focused on my education yet allowed me the freedom to grieve when necessary.

There are many reasons that I enjoyed Burlington College. The courses allowed one to not only work on required subjects but within each of them, to journey to oneself. Office doors were always open. The relationship among students, faculty and staff was one of a family. They would encourage you, laugh with you and challenged you endlessly. Your voice mattered.

I have read about, heard about and witnessed many changes at the college. Perhaps what is most discouraging is the lack of communication with the alumni. I want students to matriculate into Burlington College and have the same experience we did. One of my fondest memories was at graduation. After receiving our degrees, faculty and staff stood along the sides, and graduates shook hands with each of them. These were the faces that were there when the road seemed endless. Now many are gone. It's time for alumni to get together and take back their college.

I am proud to have graduated from Burlington. In a commencement speech, I challenged my fellow graduates to take the lessons they learned and use them to better their communities. We were also a community, and I have no doubt that we will become one once again.

Carol Ann Wooster

Burlington

Too Many Suicides

When I read about the news of Cheryl Hanna's suicide, I wanted to share my opinion about several aspects of the article ["Cheryl Hanna's Suicide Confirms Mental Health Problems in Vermont," August 6]. I support her husband's feelings that suicide and depression need to be less taboo and receive more public attention and support, especially due to the high rate of suicide in Vermont. Perhaps there is research that can be done in Vermont to determine why there is such a high suicide rate compared with other states, so we can determine how to decrease them.

Depression can attack anyone, regardless of race, gender, wealth or profession. All too often people with episodes of depression become experts in hiding their feelings from their loved ones and health care workers due to the stigma of mental illness. It is clearly not due to a weak character, but is an illness like any other that can result in death.

When smart, driven people like Cheryl commit suicide in the midst of a depression, it should lead to increased awareness of the prevalence of mental illnesses and suicide both in Vermont and around the world. It is time to focus our efforts on this area of health care that is often neglected and filled with myths.

Monica Alborg, M.D.

Portland, Maine

Mixed Messages from ANR

You have to wonder about how policy priorities are established by our regulatory masters [Off Message: "State Won't Ban Recreation on Berlin Pond," August 14]. On one hand, there's a bunch of state agencies on a jihad to force utilities to expend money and resources to demonstrate that their preservative-treated telephone poles aren't a source of water contamination — a self-evident fact. On the other hand, the secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources has no problem permitting human activity on a Class A water supply — Berlin Pond — which supplies thousands of people with drinking water. Odd.

J. Paul Giuliani

Montpelier

Ladies Who Launch

I really appreciate L.E. Smith's fine review of my book The Hour of Parade [Quick Lit: "Love and Death in the Age of Revolutions," August 13]. Smith praised my attention to historic detail but then found certain elements of the plot hard to believe, particularly one of the female characters dressing as a male soldier and fighting. It is surprising, but accurate. There are a number of accounts of women dressing as men and fighting as soldiers, including in our own Civil War. A relevant example is chronicled in the book The Cavalry Maiden, which is described on my website, thehourofparade.com.

Alan Bray

Etna, N.H.

Schools Need a Watchdog

I, for one, find it refreshing and downright democratic to hear that politics is crossing party lines [Off Message: "Conservative Support in School Board Race Stirs Debate," August 21]. And, frankly, I am annoyed and baffled that Scot Shumski is characterized in the article as "outspoken." He's a person who asks questions and requests information — that last I knew was public record — to explain school budget vagaries and irregularities. Rather than suggesting there are subversives among us, or wait, perhaps it's a conservative conspiracy, how about this: Scot is doing the job I voted him or any other school commissioner to do. Breath of fresh air and so forth. I am still of the mind, too, that we need a forensic audit of school finances.

Elise Eaton

Burlington

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