Letter in Boston Globe, Successful Save UMB Speakout, and More!

PHENOM’s Annual Meeting is this Sunday, June 10th!

Photo: A sign reads “Public Higher Ed Needs Public $$” at the Save UMB Speakout. (Zac Bears/PHENOM)

Hey PHENOMenal community!

Thanks for joining us for our fourth PHENOM weekly update! We had an amazing week working on statewide and campus-level issues. You can read last week’s update here, and I hope that you’ll keep reading and keep building our movement for a #DebtFreeFuture on the road to free public higher education for all!

Growing Number of Out-of-State Students Can Be Traced Back to Funding Cuts

Last week, the conservative Pioneer Institute put out a report showing that UMass is recruiting more and more out-of-state students, who pay more than MA residents. What they failed to note is that is a direct result of massive cuts in state funding for public higher education.

We pointed this out in the Boston Globe, noting that state government used to provide 80% of the UMass budget and now they only provide about 20%. Who’s paying that 60% gap? Students and families like you and me.

“The state has abandoned its promise to provide an affordable higher education to Massachusetts residents. If lawmakers won’t step up and increase funding, we can’t complain when our public colleges look outside the state to find another solution.” Click to read more.

UMass Boston Students and Staff Speak Out at Board of Trustees Meeting

Members of PHENOM’s UMass Boston chapter joined the Save UMass Boston campaign to speak out against cuts and fee increases that are deeply impacting the UMB community at a Board of Trustees meeting on Wednesday.

#SaveUMB had three asks of the Trustees: (1) endorse the UMB Debt Commission, (2) commit not to close centers, institutes or programs at UMB, and (3) create shared governance at UMB through collaboration with all members of the UMB community. Share on Twitter.

“Every day we come in, winding through taped-off stretches of broken concrete, into overcrowded classrooms and we do creative, insightful, and important work. We do this not because we love the crumbling buildings,” said Maddi Walker, a UMass Boston undergraduate and student organizer with PHENOM. “We continue to come to UMass Boston because there is a community that is so powerful and passionate that they continue to do their work… despite the absence of adequate resources and facilities.”

“While we are a campus which knows its true worth and will settle for nothing less, we also want peace.  For that to happen, we must be respected and heard by the UMass President and Board, and our trust in this administration has to be earned back,” said Karyn Aiello, a UMass Boston staff member, graduate student and staff organizer with PHENOM.

PHENOM’s Annual Meeting on Sunday, June 10th!

Join us on Sunday, June 10th for our 2018 PHENOM Annual Meeting at UMass Amherst or via Zoom videoconference. The event is free and open, and we’ll be electing our Board for the next year, discussing our budget and working on our #DebtFreeFuture campaign. Click here to RSVP.

Further Reading and What’s Up This Week

And that’s just some of what did last week.

  • Zac met with State Senator Karen Spilka to discuss public higher education funding and how we can build a #DebtFreeFuture for students and families.
  • Mickey Prout, our student organizer at Westfield State, will be joining the Raise Up Massachusetts team as a summer fellow working with PHENOM and JALSA!
  • Erika Civitarese, PHENOM board member for organizing, will also be joining Raise Up as a summer fellow working with Gillian and our friends at Massachusetts Jobs With Justice.
  • Sydney and Zac met with our friends at the Hildreth Institute to plan a summer event to engage alumni around our #DebtFreeFuture campaign and Hildreth’s #ZeroDebt work.
  • Zac joined Rep. Natalie Higgins, Rep. Aaron Vega, students and community activists for the signing ceremony on the House resolution supporting National Gun Violence Awareness Day. See the photo.
  • Vicki, Amy, Zac and Rep. Natalie Higgins spent some time together at the Democratic State Convention! PHENOM tabled with MEJA and over 50 new folks signed up to join PHENOM.
  • Zac’s column about how a proposed sales tax cut would hurt our public colleges and universities and why now is the time to invest in a #DebtFreeFuture through the Fair Share Amendment was published in the Berkshire Eagle. Read more and share!

We also have another big event on our calendar in June!

We will be co-hosting the MEJA Statewide Convening on June 23rd at Worcester State University to discuss our statewide campaigns to #FundOurSchools and provide a #DebtFreeFuture. Join us!