Quinebaug Valley Community College has been on Main Street in Willimantic since 1999.  While Quinebaug Valley Community College may not be centerfold on Main Street; it is the heart that keeps Main Street thriving. Just up the street is Eastern Connecticut State University – which, while more affordable compared to UConn, still may be too much for some incoming or transferring students.

That’s why Quinebaug Valley Community College is an excellent start for someone to begin their college career. Unfortunately, though; there are plans to shut down the Willimantic center after the spring 2017 semester. That should not be allowed to happen.

As a former Quinebaug Valley Community College student who specifically attended classes in Willimantic, I believe closing down the campus would do far more harm than good. The Willimantic Center, unlike its companion in Danielson, makes you feel welcomed, no matter your ethnicity, GPA, or fashion style.

When I walked into the doors of that center for the first time it felt like I knew everyone. Eventually, the longer you were there, you did. QVCC in Willimantic, unlike in Danielson, – feels like a family. College can be intimidating for a post-high school graduate, but at the Willimantic Center it did not.

I fear that if the Willimantic Center is closed it will leave others aimless as well.  Even if an incoming student only attends for a semester and realizes that college is not for them – at least they were given that opportunity. By shutting down the Willimantic Center the college is denying opportunities while promoting on its website “Your future starts here.” It would not.

At the time of attending Quinebaug Valley Community College, I was without a license or car. That was my own doing, yes. But for those in town, specifically, students graduating Windham High or ACT – attending QVCC in Willimantic is the next logical step. It is close to where they attend school and transportation would be no issue. By closing down the Willimantic Center you leave those who could or want to attend hard pressed to find a way to the “main” campus in Danielson.

The language of how QVCC differs between the two campuses tells us a story as well. Danielson was and has always been considered the “main” campus. Willimantic is simply just a “center” which sounds underwhelming compared to its Danielson counterpart. For a year, I was Student Government Association President at QVCC. It was an amazing experience and I learned to loathe bureaucracy because of it. My goal as president was to attempt to get Willimantic more resources. I advocated for a fairer distribution of resources that would provide the Willimantic students with the same opportunities given to those in Danielson.

I understand that the Connecticut community college system has budgetary problems. Trying to compromise on a budget that pleases all can be challenging. Low-income minority students, though, should not have to shoulder that burden. They, just like I do, hope to develop and sharpen skills that will help us in the future. The Willimantic Center did just that for me as I know it has others. With the skills developed at Quinebaug Valley; friends of mine are excelling in engineering, math, human rights, and other magnificent things.

There is a Board of Regents meeting at Eastern Connecticut State University in the Betty Tipton Room on April 6 at 10 a.m. Sign upd to speak at the meeting will be made available at 8:30 a.m.. Let your voice be heard.

Zachary Watson is a student at Eastern Connecticut State University and lives in Tolland.

Leave a comment