Natalie Higgins: What is your major at MassArt? Why did you choose a public arts school?
Alexander Nally: I’m a senior in the Studio for Interrelated Media program. I chose MassArt because it was the only college campus I’d visited where I could see myself succeeding as a queer person who’d never been in a big city before.
NH: What was your first introduction to PHENOM?
AN: I first heard of PHENOM as a freshman when I attended the 2013 Board of Higher Ed Annual Student Summit. I wanted to become more involved in Public Higher Education Advocacy Day, my favorite event of the year, and that’s when I first got in touch with Natalie.
NH: Tell me a little bit about your role on the MA Commission on LGBTQ Youth.
AN: I Co-Chair the Government Relations Committee and spearhead our Annual Agency Recommendations. Behind the scenes my committee meets with state agencies throughout the year to improve the quality of services and support for LGBTQ youth in the Commonwealth. Through our work with the Department of Higher Education we’ve been able to ensure that campus health insurance plans cover gender-affirming surgeries, and I’ve recently been appointed to serve on the Commissioner’s Campus Violence Prevention Task Force to represent the State University segment, ensuring that the DHE will do its best to keep LGBTQ students safe.
NH: What made you interested in joining PHENOM’s Board?
AN: I joined PHENOM’s board to try to foster more of a relationship between PHENOM and the BHE Student Advisory Council. I share the vision and dream of PHENOM to see free higher ed happen in Massachusetts and I wanted to contribute any skills I could to help achieve that.
NH: What are your hopes for the new MassArt Chapter?
AN: For the new MassArt Chapter I’m really excited to make a place for sustainable advocacy on the higher ed affordability front. MassArt has an incredible history of serving up some serious student activism up on the Hill, so I can’t imagine the revolutionary things this chapter will accomplish.
NH: What would free public higher ed mean to you?
AN: Free public higher ed would be a revolution to the wealth and social disparities in this country. If public higher ed were free, that would be one less barrier to students from adverse backgrounds trying to make a difference for their families’ and their own lives. Public higher ed would mean that no student should ever have to consider their education over their health, or their education over their family. It would mean that we as a society would have more faith in everyone’s ability to succeed rather than keeping opportunities locked away in the Ivory Tower.