PHENOMenal News- Fall 2013

Read the fall-winter issue of the PHENOM newsletter on your screen, and then let us know if you would like a batch to distribute.  It includes interesting material on student fees and student debt, State House advocacy, the Quebec student uprising, and more. Please write to us at  if you would like copies to use in your organizing.

PHENOM Helps Win State Funding and Fee Freeze

By Ken Haar, Westfield State University

PHENOM’s multi-year, multi-prong strategy of providing research and data, mobilizing at the grassroots, and building unity of a broad coalition paid off. Our campuses will have additional funds; students will get at least some relief from ever-rising fees next year.

Legislature Takes on Student Debt

By Anastasia Wilson

In June, the Massachusetts legislature took a step to investigate student debt by creating a Subcommittee on Student Debt as part of the Joint Committee on Higher Education.

Celebrating a Sea Change

By Alex Kulenovic

Whenever I see a victory in a campaign, small or large, I flash back to those early meetings where we first started talking about the issue. You know the kind: usually 5-10 people doing somewhat unfocused brainstorming, coming up with slogans and organization names. I remember these because in many ways they’re just as pivotal as the large actions near the turning point. I’ve had the privilege of having a lot of these meetings with a lot of amazing people and watching these efforts grow into strong coalitions and winning campaigns, and of working with and learning from some amazing organizers.


Neil MacInnes-Barker has been a busy guy since he served as Student Government President at UMass Boston. All those speakers on Advocacy Day 2013 were flanked by a poster based on the info-cards he designed and distributed at the program in 2012.

It’s all part of “EducateMA,” founded in 2012 to bridge the gap between the Massachusetts state government and the students, faculty, and staff from all 29 Public Higher Educations institutions in the commonwealth.

Road Trip: PHENOM goes to Montreal

Last year, hundreds of thousands of students throughout Quebec were on strike for much of the year in a fight against tuition increases. The strike succeeded in reversing the increase, and even brought down the provincial government.

When PHENOM helped to host two visiting strikers last year, it inspired members to see for themselves.

PHENOM Reframed

With the June 2013 annual meeting, PHENOM reorganized its structure to encourage more organizing on campuses and in communities, while continuing to be effective in our statewide work.

Membership now requires active involvement in PHENOM’s work at a chapter or the statewide level, rather than a dues payment.


As we go to press, PHENOM is engaged in a campaign for the reinstatement of Ellen Martins, president of the Union of Adjunct Faculty (UAW) at UMass Lowell. She was terminated and replaced by someone in a temporary, non-union position. The position was not advertised. Ellen has an exemplary 28-year teaching record, is an outspoken advocate for her colleagues, and is a leader of the effort to unionize adjuncts. This has the appearance of retaliation for her union activity—a clear violation of one of PHENOM’s core principles. Please follow the PHENOM website for updates.