An Education in Public Service
Will Greer ’25 spoke with Paige Colby ’25 on his work in local politics and his time at Bennington.
Will Greer is currently a second-year student at Bennington College. Originally from McAllen, Texas, Greer has found his home in Bennington, Vermont. Greer is studying politics at Bennington, but he spends most of his time off-campus engaging directly with Vermont politics; it’s something, he says, that is not only possible but encouraged at Bennington.
Greer was recently elected to be the Secretary of the Vermont Democratic Party; he is one of the youngest people to ever serve in the position. Previously, Greer has served the Democratic Party at the town and county levels. He also ran in the last primary election for Bennington County High Bailiff. Additionally, Greer is a Justice of the Peace for Bennington and serves on the Bennington Community Policing Advisory Review Board (CPARB).
How did you first get involved in local politics?
Back in Fall 2021, I realized that I was not going to be involved with Texas politics in the way I wanted to be. I also knew I wanted to stay wherever I went to college because Texas—as much as it is my home—never felt like home. Having come to Vermont my whole life during the summers, I realized how special it was. I was able to be myself, I was able to have an authentic place to live, to be part of a community. So I knew that I wanted to get involved with the town party and that we had a lot to cherish and protect about Vermont.
How did you become the Secretary of the Vermont Democratic Party?
When I first got involved, I was asking, “where am I needed?” and that’s what I view a community as—what do people need you to do?
Then, in October 2022, the Secretary for the Bennington County Democrats was stepping down. Jim Ramsey, my county chair, said “If you feel like you want to do this, let me know. It would be a great opportunity, and we would all love your energy.”
The following December, someone with a lot of influence, compassion, and admiration in the state party called me to ask if I would consider running for secretary of the party. This person said, “It’s not just that you’re young, but you’re energetic, you show up to things, and you make yourself present.” Hearing someone say that out loud made me realize my presence does make a difference. So, I thought about it and put in my nomination. When I learned another candidate put in their nomination, I started calling people, emailing people, and drawing maps. Where do I have support, where do I need support, and what’s the best way to navigate this map? I strategized for two straight weeks on the third floor of Commons, and it paid off.
What do you do as Secretary?
The official responsibilities are taking minutes and establishing quorums (both a majority of voting members and a majority of counties). While everyone's talking during the meetings, if I have questions or want to interject, I still have to document the minutes. It can be a lot, but it keeps me on track.
My unofficial goal as a member of state party leadership is to travel around the state. It's not mandated, but I want to meet the people in our counties. I also go to Democratic Party events, which I’ve already been going to for over a year. I'm also looking forward to more events in Southern Vermont. It’s what we need to make the Southern part of the state feel included and not lose our unity as a party.
What made you decide to attend Bennington?
My two choices for college were Dartmouth and Bennington. Those are two very different colleges in terms of what they have to offer. Making my decision, I thought about what the average Dartmouth student would do. If I went to Dartmouth, I could intern for a senator in Rhode Island and work on an agriculture committee, and then I’d get a six-figure job in Washington DC. Then I thought, “What would someone from Bennington say?” I didn’t know what someone from Bennington would say because there’s no determined path for you here. Everything I’ve done is because of Bennington but also because Bennington did not tell me what to do. Bennington supported me with the resources to help me do it. I always say that people don’t want to be helped, they want to help themselves. Dartmouth would’ve simply helped me become the next U.S. government employee. At Bennington, that’s not all that we do. That’s why I chose Bennington; it stood out because you have to be unique.
How has your Bennington education allowed you to be politically active?
Bennington itself is so unique. The curriculum. The Field Work Term. Having faculty members like Rotimi Suberu, Susan Sgorbati, and [Vermont State Senator] Brian Campion who are involved in local politics. I can design my courses and tutorials around what will help me with my political work. That’s unique to Bennington. In most places, I’d still be doing my general education requirements. I couldn’t name another place where I could actively do what I’m doing and make it part of my schoolwork.
When do you feel most connected to the larger Bennington community?
I love to be at the voting booth and at the polls: being there on voting day, seeing all those people, saying hi, and giving hugs. On a regular basis, I like to go to the diners or coffee places in the area. I also love going to the county courthouse. The other day we had our big county inauguration, and it was good to be there. I’m nerdy when it comes to that sort of thing.
What advice would you give to other young people interested in politics?
There is a culture among young people that there’s a certain way to work up, but sometimes it’s not good to blend in that way. If you have passion and energy, chart your own path. Show that there is a totally different way to do it. I’m sure you may think doing XYZ is going to lead you to that final result, but I’m over here doing QWR and L, and I’m ending up in the same place.
What’s the best way to get involved in your community?
There’s a difference between offering help and planting roots. While you’re in your college community, I would say go to the fairs and events, volunteer, run booths, and just help out. What’s important is finding those things that will be of the most value to you. As for me, I’ve made a commitment—I’m moving off-campus now so people will trust that I’m staying here long after graduation. When I go home to see family, all I think is, “I’m ready to get back to Vermont, I’m ready to get back home.”