By Colleen Avedikian, PHENOM Vice President
UMass Dartmouth’s PHENOM chapter has hosted weekly meetings and campus events since 2009. Its formula for success is close contact with student groups, support from the UMD Faculty Federation, and academic department recognition.
UMD PHENOM has been able to organize important events on campus, including teach-ins, Legislative Call-In Days, Student Debt Weeks, and movie nights. The group has also participated in community political events, such as the annual Legislative Breakfast sponsored by the Arnold M. Dubin Labor Education Center. PHENOM at UMD proudly sends a large contingent to Boston for Public Higher Education Advocacy Day each year.
The members of UMD PHENOM have established strong relationships with campus student groups including the Student Government Association, Greek Life, The Black Student Union, Frederick Douglass Unity House, the Multicultural Support Council, MassPIRG, and the Center for Women, Gender and Sexuality. Students from these organizations attend and participate in UMD PHENOM events and PHENOM members reciprocate in kind.
UMD PHENOM uses weekly meetings during Fall and Spring semesters to pursue its mission. The meetings are predominantly student-centered and always democratic—the agenda can be changed to reflect specific interests and concerns of the participants.
The Faculty Federation, or “Fac Fed,” represents faculty, librarians and professional staff at the university. This union has provided material resources for PHENOM in the form of buses (for Advocacy Day), free paper and printing materials, and email access for campus wide announcements. This has been particularly helpful in advertising PHENOM events.
The Fac Fed devotes space in its monthly newsletter to PHENOM activities, and invites members to make announcements at General Membership meetings. In 2012, the Executive Board of the Fac Fed voted to give a yearly stipend to the PHENOM Faculty Organizer, insuring continuity. The Faculty Senate of UMass Dartmouth has allowed UMD PHENOM members (including students) to make announcements to its monthly assembly as well.
Three academic departments, Political Science, Sociology and Anthropology, and Crime and Justice Studies, have also been supportive of PHENOM. They accept working with PHENOM as an appropriate placement for students in the major, who are required to fulfill an internship of 120 hours.
While the actual requirements can be negotiated, they include activities that develop community service and advocacy capabilities:
- increase membership in PHENOM
- organize and facilitate weekly meetings of the UMD PHENOM Campus Council
- act as liaison to other campus groups/student groups/centers
- contribute to PHENOM’s blog
- maintain the “UMD is PHENOMenal” Facebook page (or other social media)
- write a weekly column for the UMD Torch newspaper
- write letters to the editor (Standard Times, Fall River Herald, Boston Globe, Providence Journal) on issues related to public higher education in Massachusetts
- coordinate a major campus event during the semester
- establish connections to other SE Mass campuses
- attend meetings of the PHENOM board.
The persistence of PHENOM at UMD has been achieved thanks so a number of dedicated people, working collaboratively, in support of PHENOM’s mission.
Author’s note: As a faculty member in the Sociology and Anthropology department at UMD, I have had the pleasure of serving as direct supervisor for 16 interns since 2009.