PHENOM Named “Community Partner of the Year” at Bristol CC

Join us at the #SaveUMB Action on Wednesday!

Photo: Colleen Avedikian, Zac Bears, Sydney Little, Andrew Lacouture, Amy Blanchette and Jennifer Dekkers at the Bristol Community College Awards Ceremony. (PHENOM)

Hey PHENOMenal community!

Thanks for joining us for our third PHENOM weekly update! We hope you enjoyed your Memorial Day weekend and can bear with us for getting this update out a little late.

We got more great feedback on last week’s update (which you can read here), so 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!

PHENOM Wins “Community Partner of The Year” Award at Bristol Community College

Bristol Community College held its annual celebration of Experiential Education last Tuesday where they honored the students, faculty, staff and community partners who did service-learning and cooperatives over the school year. PHENOM was honored to receive the “Community Partner of the Year” Award for service-learning!

In Fall 2017, PHENOM partnered with a marketing class taught by Professor Jennifer Dekkers to do a case study on PHENOM’s message and branding and how we appeal to students and youth. Through our work, we updated PHENOM’s branding and messaging and landed on the #DebtFreeFuture campaign we’ve been running for the past several months.

We teamed back up with Professor Dekkers and a different marketing class this spring to help market a #DebtFreeFuture Town Hall with local lawmakers that was well-attended, including by three local state reps who answered questions from students. We also met Andrew Lacouture in class, and he will be joining us as a student organizer in the fall!

Student Debt Salon with JALSA a Success!

In last week’s update, we mentioned that we were holding a Student Debt Salon with JALSA, and it was a huge success! Over 20 people joined us to discuss student debt and what PHENOM is doing to address it for students, families and borrowers in Massachusetts.

We went over some of the basics, including underfunding of public higher education in Massachusetts. We also talked about potential solutions like the Student Loan Bill of Rights, and campaign for a #DebtFreeFuture through the Fair Share Amendment in the fall.

Sadly, State Rep. Natalie Higgins couldn’t join us, but it was for a good cause–she was at the State House late into the night to vote on the “Red Flag” bill to help prevent gun violence. It passed!

We still plan to keep them involved through our alumni organizing work to reach people who are paying back student debt!

Further Reading and What’s Up This Week

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

Zac wrote a column in Southcoast Today and the New Bedford Standard-Times talking 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. Read more and share!

Major pushback on the UMass Boston campus led to the cancellation of the search for a new chancellor. While faculty are being blamed, the Save UMB Coalition—a large group of students, faculty, staff and community members—have been raising concerns about decision-making and cuts to the UMB campus for nearly two years.  Read more.

For a deep dive, another article in the Chronicle of Higher Education gets more in-depth into changes in higher education that led to the crisis at UMass Boston. “The widespread use of search consultants, the decline in shared governance, and the politicization of higher education have all contributed to the marginalization of faculty input in searches.” Read more.

The #SaveUMB Campaign has a major action at the UMass Board of Trustees meeting TOMORROW (Wednesday, 5/30) at 9AM at One Beacon Street. Please RSVP here.

Students, faculty and staff will be speaking to the trustees about the ongoing crisis at UMass Boston, and what the trustees need to do to engage the UMB community and work through these problems together.

We also have two big events on our calendars in June!

  • 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.
  • We also have the MEJA Statewide Convening on June 23rd to discuss our statewide campaigns to #FundOurSchools and provide a #DebtFreeFuture. Join us!