Connor Daley, the current president of UVM’s Student Government Association, is a busy man. Besides being the chief representative for over ten thousand UVM undergraduates, Mr. Daley is one of the many faces of the university in the greater Burlington community. His responsibilities range from overseeing the allocation of an estimated $1.3 million (all of which comes from student fees) to sitting in on over eighteen university-wide committees. Let us not forget that Mr. Daley is also a junior, and along with all of his presidential duties, he has to complete his homework like any other student at UVM.
I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Daley, and hear about the SGA’s involvement in veterans’ issues on campus. Since his time is so valuable, I would like to heartily thank Mr. Daley for making time to speak about the UVM Student Veterans Organization.
SVO: What role do you think the SGA should play in regards to veterans’ affairs on campus?
Daley: In the past, we (the SGA) have worked closely with the VCO [now SVO] and former presidents Shanna Shushereba and Ryan Little, and now we are happy to work with Randi Diabo and D.J. Westley (the President and Vice President, respectively, of the rebranded SVO). We have and continue to advocate for an Office of Veterans Affairs and a dedicated Veterans Coordinator on campus, and since 2011 we have sponsored the UVM Veterans’ Day celebration.
Conversations are important, so we must continue the ongoing conversation in regards to student veterans on campus. The establishment of a Veterans Coordinator would provide support and good public relations on the issue. So far, that office has been difficult to achieve (financially speaking). In the meantime, SGA will continue to provide support and public relations for UVM’s student veterans.
SVO: What do you think the university’s obligations are for its student veterans? How do you think it is doing in regards to issues involving veterans?
Daley: Overall, the school is doing very poorly. There hasn’t been much institutional support for veterans on campus. I disagree with President Sullivan’s decentralized system model [in response to the PCDI recommendation].* That is the biggest problem at UVM: we are too decentralized, which creates progress problems. ** We are starting to go in the right direction, but we are below where we need to be. UVM institutionally needs to recognize, support, and celebrate its student veterans. We should recognize that student veterans have different experiences and different perspectives. Veterans have needs that are different from the traditional undergraduate student. They don’t need to go to the big concert every year; they need academic and logistical support. Celebration is natural, but we also need to celebrate and talk to veterans about their lives, issues, and experiences in a professional and academic manner.
SVO: Are there any last comments that you would like to make?
Daley: I have been amazed by how many student veterans are actively involved on campus. They can easily choose not to be, but many of them do it anyway. I am happy to continue advocating for them.
*The Presidential Commission on Diversity and Inclusion (PCDI) recommended the creation of a Veterans Affairs Office.
**President Sullivan’s October 2012 response was:
The University greatly values the contributions of our University community members who are veterans. Vice President Chris Lucier has created a website that provides a range of services and information specific to veterans. Additionally, staff in various offices have been indentified as points-of-contact for veterans. We believe that the current model of central coordination with decentralized services is meeting the needs of our veterans, but we commit to continuing to assess resources for veterans on campus.
Article by Benjamin Welton