Matt Vogel

A Quiet Moment on Campus

Andrew Harris Commons, University of Vermont
Andrew Harris Commons, University of Vermont

A quiet moment on campus.

An unchained purple bike leaning against a no longer dormant tree, trusting Vermont students and neighbors to leave it be.

The trampled remnants of the protest encampment and the hours of conversation and action that took place in our UVM community as we figured out what kind of university we want to be in real time.

The chilled air hushed and empty of the hateful rhetoric that made students of all kinds of beliefs feel unsafe and unheard and oppressed by omnipresent threats of language and implications of violence.

The concrete sidewalks brushed with rain have washed out the chalkings that reflected half-legible slogans of hope and peace and symbology and facts and figures and names and flags and pain.

The literal and figurative squares of scorched earth from the impact of tents and boots and shoes and tarps echo the impact this week had on my heart as the grass begins to peek out again from the mud.

The single empty chair one of a few here and 130 at our Hillel last week. Who sat here? Who was allowed to sit here? What voices were represented here and what voices were silenced? What voices need to rise up next semester and what voices need more time to and support to call out?

The phone I used to take this photo…every time it rings I’m triggered in wondering what trauma waits on the other side. Every ding from WhatsApp, every chime from iMessage, every tone another unread Gmail cascading into a torrent of well-wishes and people seeking information and parents and students seeking to be understood.

It’s said a picture is worth 1,000 words.

It’s been a week of thousands and thousands of words.

A few more…

My heart the grass.

My soul the tree.

My prayers the sky.

My awareness the clouds.

My hope the light.

My hope, the light.

About the Author
Matt Vogel is the Executive Director of Hillel at the University of Vermont and has spent his career supporting Jewish students on campus.
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