Successful Annual Meeting, Poll Shows Huge Support for #DebtFreeFuture

82% of Massachusetts voters support debt-free public college!

Photo: Kim Selwitz, Sydney Little, James Cordero and others at our Annual Meeting. (Zac Bears/PHENOM)

Hey PHENOMenal community!

Thanks for joining us for our fifth 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!

Great Turnout for a Successful 2018 Annual Meeting

Thank you to everyone who joined us for an amazing 2018 Annual Meeting! We had over 40 people in attendance and got a lot of work done. We moved our #DebtFreeFuture campaign forward, with dozens of commitments for summer action! We also approved our FY19 budget, scheduled our 2018-19 General Assembly Meetings, and discussed our sustaining membership and fundraising plans.

Congratulations to our new board: President Amy Marie Blanchette, Vice President James Cordero, Treasurer Elizabeth Pellerito, Clerk Mickey Prout, Organizing Team Leaders Erika Civitarese and Charlotte Kelly, Communications Team Leader Vicki Dzindzichashvili, Fundraising Team Leader Gillian Mason, Legislative Team Leaders Kenneth Haar and Timmy Sullivan, and our MTA Representative, MTA Vice President-elect Max Page!

Thank you to Kim Selwitz and Colleen Avedikian for your many years of service on the Board. We’re glad you’re staying involved in other ways! Thank you to State Representative Natalie Higgins and candidates Chelsea Kline for State Senate and Eric Nakajima for State Rep for joining us!

Special thanks to the folks on Zoom for bearing with us through the technical difficulties.

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Poll Shows 82% of Massachusetts Voters Support Debt-Free College

A poll released last week by our friends at the Hildreth Institute shows that “82% of MA voters support zero-debt public college where students can get a degree without debt.”

We know that the people are on our side as we move forward with our #DebtFreeFuture campaign and collaborate with Hildreth on their #ZeroDebt advocacy work.

Additionally, the poll also showed that this is a bipartisan issue, with over 60% of Republicans and Independents saying the student debt financing system isn’t working.

Read more and share on Twitter.

Next Step for #DebtFreeFuture? MEJA Convening on June 23rd!

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

Further Reading and More News From Last Week

College used to be free. What happened? “Today’s average student debt is around $37,000. But in America’s largest state, it wasn’t that long ago that any student could get a world-class, debt-free education — regardless of their economic background.” Read more.

Why the AARP is worried about student loans. “Americans over 60 years old are the fastest-growing category of student loan borrowers.” Read more.

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

  • Zac attended the “Organizing to Resist High-Stakes Testing” meeting on June 3rd with over 30 parents and teachers from around the state. PHENOM is a partner in this fight because the high-stakes testing in our K-12 schools is deeply impacting students in higher education.
  • Sydney and Zac met with our new RUM fellows Mickey and Erika on Monday to help onboard them and get them ready to #FightFor15, demand #PaidLeave and win the #FairShare Amendment. We worked with our partners from JALSA and Jobs With Justice too!
  • Sydney met with Matt, the new organizing manager for the Hildreth Institute, to discuss plans for the upcoming year.
  • Sydney and Mickey canvassed for #FightFor15 and #PaidLeave at events in Greenfield on Wednesday, collecting hundreds of signatures to move our issues to the ballot!
  • PHENOM joined with national partners to fight back against the dangerous “PROSPER Act,” which Republicans have proposed to radically undermine higher education. Read more.
  • The student leaders of the March for Our Lives: Boston attended Boston Pride with Parkland student activist David Hogg. The MFOL:B youth collected #FightFor15 signatures in partnership with Charlotte and Graciela from MEJA! Read more and share.