Students for #USMFuture launch #NoMoreNice campaign with $10,000 crowdfunding goal

Students for #USMFuture organizers Jules Purnell (left), Meaghan LaSala (front right) and Caroline O'Connor (front back) after leading a march throughout the streets of Portland to protest USM budget cuts in April. The group announced their new #NoMoreNice campaign last week.
Sam Hill | The Free Press
Students for #USMFuture organizers Jules Purnell (left), Meaghan LaSala (front right) and Caroline O'Connor (front back) after leading a march throughout the streets of Portland to protest USM budget cuts in April. The group announced their new #NoMoreNice campaign last week.

Posted on June 24, 2014 in News
By Sam Hill

Students for #USMFuture have launched a new campaign called #NoMoreNice in response to recent measures taken by the administration to balance the university’s budget.

In a statement released to Bangor Daily News blogger Chris Schorr, the group announced that they would be launching a crowdfunding campaign with a goal of $10,000 to finance an independent audit of System and USM finances, investigating conflicts of interest, nepotism, waste, and lack of oversight in system operations and engaging legal counsel to investigate potential class-action lawsuits, or other similar legal remedies.

“We’re stepping our game up in response to the new budget,” said Philip Shelley, a member of the group and recent USM graduate. “The administration is dismantling this place and we need to do the opposite and start fighting to preserve USM.”

Shelley and other members of the group are use the word ‘dismantle’ deliberately, referring the recent decision by the administration to fire Chris O’Connor, who was the director of Portland Student Life, and plans to sell the Stone House, which serves as headquarters for USM’s Stonecoast Master of Fine Arts in creative writing program.

“When they’re done, this will no longer be a comprehensive liberal arts university,” said Shelley.

The group will be hosting a rally outside of the Maine Law Building tomorrow morning in attempt preserve the three programs that have been slated for elimination. Geosciences, American and New England Studies and the Arts and Humanities program at the Lewiston Auburn campus have been targeted for elimination since March and President Kalikow confirmed in her announcement that she would still suggest they be cut.

“We wanted to provide another floor for directly affected people to share their stories,” said Meaghan LaSala, a group member and senior women and gender studies major. The group hosted a similar event for staff who were threatened with cuts in late April.

“Along with many stakeholders in the USM community and across the state, we feel that the program cuts make no sense and have no coherent economic rationale,” said student organizer Caroline O’Connor in a press release sent out by the group this afternoon. O’Connor recently enrolled in the American New England Studies program. “This program is profitable for the university, many of its graduates stay and work in Maine, and it’s one of only two of its kind in the country.”

The group also announced  the creation of a USMFuture Presidential Search Committee. Their goal is to form a search committee comprised of students, staff and faculty to find a presidential candidate who will preserve USM as a comprehensive liberal arts university, focus on  transparency and shared governance, critically examine USM’s budget in the context of national public higher education funding and acknowledges a student’s education as a human right.

A search committee has already  been formed by the USM administration to search for Kalikow’s replacement, as she will be retiring after the next academic year.

“We would love to be a part of the search,” said Shelley. “Students deserve to have a say in the future executive direction of their university.”

The rally is set to take place tomorrow at 10:30 a.m.