Phi Beta Cons

Jane Sanders and the Demise of Burlington College

Small, private colleges are facing a difficult time these days. One has recently had to close — Burlington College. In Vermont. Home of Bernie Sanders and his wife Jane, who used to be the school’s president.

In this article on the home page by Franciscan University sociology professor Anne Hendershott, we learn a great deal about the college’s demise, brought about by the bad financial judgment of Jane Sanders, but also apparently involving legally dubious conduct and favoritism. Hendershott writes, “Questions remain about how Jane Sanders was able to convince creditors — including the diocese, the State of Vermont Educational and Health Buildings Finance Agency, and a federally insured bank — that the school qualified for the $10 million loan. The complaint filed by the ‘aggrieved Vermont parishioners’ suggests that Sanders’s privileged status as the wife of a powerful U.S. Senator ‘inoculated her from the robust underwriting that would have uncovered the apparent fraudulent donation claims she made.’”

After presenting the facts about the case, Hendershott connects it to the fairy-dust rhetoric about socialism we hear from Senator Sanders all the time. Rather than helping the poor, as he claims, we know that the poor are its greatest victims and that’s evidently so here: “While real estate developers who purchased the diocesan land from Burlington College have gained a great deal in their ability to develop the once-pristine land along Lake Champlain, the losses incurred will probably hurt the poor — those in Vermont who have been well served by Catholic charities and other direct-service programs. Students enrolled at Burlington College have been harmed and faculty and staff will be fired. That is the real scandal of socialism.”

Read the whole thing.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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