Thursday, October 28, 2021

Town Hall Condemns Appalachian State’s Unresponsiveness to Local Concerns


What impact is Appalachian State having on Boone? 

This was the question explored by a town hall held last night in the Evelyn Johnson Room of the Watauga County Public Library. The event was sponsored by the Appalachian State chapter of the American Association of University Professors and ClimAct, a local environmental group. The room was packed, with over forty citizens in attendance and that many more joining via Zoom.

The town hall left little doubt that there is a lot of concern—from community members, students, and faculty—that the university may be adversely impacting Boone and the surrounding area. Kellie Reed Ashcraft of the Watauga Compassionate Care Initiative noted that Boone’s poverty rate is significantly higher than the state average. There was a lot of worry expressed about the university’s aggressive enrollment growth goals. Many noted that the town is increasingly full of shoddy housing and that it is expensive, too, forcing many people who work in Boone to seek housing elsewhere. Some students bemoaned that App State is becoming a degree mill, and that reckless growth is resulting in lower quality of students, diminishing the quality of an Appalachian degree. One participant quoted Edward Abbey to chastise the university’s priorities: “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.”

Frustration was also expressed about the university’s lack of responsiveness to the Boone community, even to answer questions. At one point, the question was asked: “Who has even met Sheri Everts [the App State Chancellor]?” Only a few hands were raised. Many noted that the core problem is that Everts owes her $375,000 annual salary to the UNC Board of Governors in Chapel Hill—and that the Board is the only constituency she really cares about. Needless to say, the Board is appointed entirely by the Republican majority in the General Assembly.

Finally, some attendees pointed out that, on top of everything else, the recent revelations about App Pac and the lavish donations by two members of the App State Board of Trustees suggest that the university is now trying to buy the Boone Town Council. What a convenient way to get land owned by the university rezoned to meet its interests—and those of wealthy real estate developers.

Enough is enough, it was decided. App State used to be the pride of Boone. But, as one resident pointed out in one of the evening’s most moving testimonials, the university is now exploiting the local population, forcing out people who have lived in the region for generations.

The event’s organizers promised that more was soon to come.


Anonymous said...

Hey what if we just changed the name of Boone to B-ASU-Ne. Basune....Pronounced Basoon.

Red Hornet said...

I attended ASU in the 1980s and could see that the quality and proper focus of higher education there were already on the way down.
The elevation of the business department, and all the business degrees, made getting a real education increasingly difficult over decades.
Growth for growth's sake was also destructive. There is a role in this society for a little teacher's college that emphasizes the classics and the humanities, but I can't think of one that has survived.
Boone (the town) has gone from a quaint oasis to a strip mall. I know I got a much better education than is possible now.

Nancy said...

My name is Nancy and I am on the current Boone Town council. By profession I am a regulatory policy consultant, i.e. an energy and electricity policy nerd. For the past 15 years, I've fought stupidity ranging from "clean" coal (no such thing) and CCS or Carbon Capture and Sequestration (also doesn't work, but we keep throwing billions at it), and raising the alarm on the risk of drastically increasing our use of natural/fossil gas for electricity. NRLP, starting 1/1/22, will be 85-100% natural gas. Here's the problem: natural gas is FAR WORSE for the climate than coal! And where does that gas come from? Fracking done out of state. Fracking is very harmful, and folks now know it. Why do I bring this up? Because NRLP is dragging its feet on getting utility-scale clean energy, and they have been dragging their feet for over a decade. OK, what about rooftop solar, i.e. locally sited solar we can put on our homes and businesses? LOOK AROUND, you will see NONE. GO TO ASHEVILLE and you will see a LOT. Why? Because NRLP's rules around rooftop solar are so bad that hardly anyone will put it up. So NRLP has ~8,000 meters in Boone, and many people, including me, would love to put up solar, but NRLP makes it prohibitively expensive and complicated. SOLAR WORKS! Vermont is over 15% solar TODAY, much of it on rooftops. Just Google it -- you will find hundreds of articles about how solar is a major clean energy solution...just not in Boone.

Anonymous said...

I, and many others in the county, would like to see a nice wide bypass around Boone and Asu.

Maybe with a 12' high electric fence and mine field as well.

Then you all can squabble in your leftist wonderland and while the rest of the county lives in peace and prosperity.