PHENOM Board, November 14, 2011

Meeting held at Quinsigamond Community College

Attendance:  Ken Haar, Marie Hedrick, Travis Henderson, Alex Kulenovic, Stasha Lampert, Ryan Manita, Max Page, Craig Slatin, Ferd Wulkan

1.            Finances

a) The Board reviewed and discussed the IRS 990 form.  A motion was made to accept it.  The motion passed unanimously.

b) A motion was made to replace former Treasurer Ken Haar with current Treasurer Marie Hedrick as a signatory on our bank account.  The motion passed unanimously.

c) A discussion on Fundraising touched on COMECC, house parties, grants, and diversity.  The Board voted to set up a Fundraising Committee.  Initial volunteers to serve on the committee are Ryan Manita, Marie Hedrick, Max Page and Craig Slatin.  Marie will convene the committee.

2.            PHENOM Activity since Last Board Meeting

The Board heard reports and had discussion about campus events, legislative visits, the Nov. 2 street action, activity at UMass Boston, the casino legislation, the work of the Summit group, work toward a statewide student association, and research related to barriers to access faced by parents.  There was a sense that while the Board has not been as well organized as it might be, PHENOM has done a lot of good work this fall.  The street action may have been PHENOM’s best ever, in part because of the issue and in part because of a strong coalition effort.  The legislative visits to campuses did not meet our goals which were different from those of the Higher Ed. Caucus.

The Summit group, with Ken’s leadership, has united around a proposed supplemental budget that would address critical needs of our campuses: $12 million in emergency financial aid, $50 million for deferred maintenance, and $25 million to fund union contracts.  This would free up campus funds  for other purposes.  Ken is working with key legislators on this.  Once it is filed, we will want to generate a lot of phone calls/letters to support it.

Following outreach to various SGAs, there will be an initial meeting toward a statewide student association on December 1.


3.            Spring Board Meeting Schedule

There was support for having each meeting at a different campus and in a different part of the state.  There was disagreement about whether weekends of weekday evenings would see larger attendance.  Alex will coordinate a process of surveying Board members and other PHENOM activists.


4.            Board Composition

Matt Costello has never attended a meeting or responded to emails.  He was not present when he was nominated and elected to the Board.  A motion was made to remove him from the Board.  The motion passed unanimously.

It was stressed that there are Board vacancies and that there is a need for increased representation from among staff, people of color, women and the central region.


5.            Vision Project

The Commissioner of Higher Education’s Vision Project is important because it is the major initiative from his office.  He is eager for a PHENOM endorsement.  There was agreement that although we may have major criticisms, we should understand it better and should meet with the Commissioner to discuss it.  Ferd will set up a meeting for December or January.  We will want to have good attendance at this meeting.


6.            Newsletter

Dale LaBonte and Ferd will coordinate a new issue of the newsletter to appear in January.  The Board reviewed a list of possible articles and made suggestions.


7.            Campus Organizing

The Board had a broad discussion about campus organizing which, it was acknowledged, is our most important work.  The discussion included suggestions about activist training, bringing newer activists along wherever we go, and the need to simultaneously expand the number of active campuses while building strong  “anchor” campuses.


8.            Advocacy Campaigns

We expect to launch the “Top 10 Reasons to Invest in Public Higher Education” PR/organizing campaign in January.

We want to continue focusing on student debt, possibly via the Finish Line Grant proposal or additional financial aid.  But we will also look to what other groups around the country are doing for other possible ideas/targets.

We expect to follow other groups’ leads on In-State Tuition and Student Health Insurance.

This semester, we will focus on trying to pass a supplemental budget to address critical needs of the campuses (see 2. above).  We will try to generate lots of phone calls/letters to the Governor, asking him to include such funds for higher ed in a supplemental budget and in his submission of the House 1 budget for 2013.

We want to continue work on the Finish Line proposal.  Max and Marie will set up a meeting with Clantha McCurdy at the Office of Financial Assistance to iron out details.

The Board put off discussion of a major spring campaign pending more input from activists on campuses.


9.            November 17 Nationwide Occupy Actions

The Board voted unanimously to endorse this set of actions focusing on inequality.