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PHENOM to hold event describing effects of budget crisis on students

Students, staff and faculty at the University of Massachusetts will hold a teach-in this Thursday, Nov. 19, to discuss the context of the current budget crisis of public higher education in Massachusetts.  

According to a release, The Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts [PHENOM] encourages all to attend this teach-in in order to support and strengthen the organization’s efforts to win back funding for higher education. The teach-in, titled “Budget Crisis: UMass at the Tipping Point,” will take place from 12-1 p.m. in the Cape Cod Lounge of the UMass Student Union.

“For the first time ever, UMass students now contribute more to the campus budget than the state does?” said Outreach and Education Coordinator of the Student Government Association Sam Dreyfus in a release sent out on Nov. 17. “Can we even still call this public higher education?”

UMass, as well as other state and community colleges in Massachusetts, have lost $62 million in state funding since the Gov. Deval Patrick announced mid-year cuts on Oct. 29, 2009. While this funding is currently being replaced by federal fiscal stimulus funds, PHENOM anticipates the need to advocate for both state and additional federal resources for next year and beyond.

“UMass at the Tipping Point” will include personal statements from each speaker, several of whom are students at UMass, explaining how the budget cut is personally impacting him or her, coming from the perspectives of students, staff and faculty. Moderators will be present to put the stories in context and explain how the current budget trends are potentially leaving the campus administration with few and undesirable choices.

“One of our goals is to demonstrate that we are all in the same boat. Faculty and staff don’t benefit from fee increases, and students are harmed when staff and faculty are on the chopping block,” said Louise Antony, a professor in the philosophy department and member of the statewide board of PHENOM, in the same release sent out on Nov. 17.

Christa Romano can be reached at cromano@student.umass.edu.

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