Sunday, April 22nd, 2018

Fight back! Protect the gem that is USM

Posted on October 27, 2014 in Perspectives
By USM Free Press

Please, listen closely, especially those of you who are new to USM or new to this conflict, because you need to know what’s happening, and you need to know what’s at stake here.

When I first enrolled in USM four years ago I was, frankly, a punk, a hoodlum, a trouble-maker. When I enrolled, I little intention of ever even actually graduating, let alone going on to pursue a secondary degree. I came to USM to have fun and maybe get an okay job out of it.

And so, like the hoodlum I was, I enrolled as a business major. The very first classroom I stepped into (late, of course) was introduction to microeconomics with Rachel Bouvier. I did not know it at the time, but I would slowly find my passion in that classroom and the subsequent economics courses I would take as a business major. After taking a few more courses in economics, I had found my passion, and so declared a second major. Thoughts of quickly getting out of USM and finding some silly business job quickly dissipated as we analyzed topics like inequality, labor rights, and the environment.

Please, don’t get the wrong idea, I liked my business professors and courses a great deal, and learned a lot from them. But, unlike in business, where I got taught how to do, in economics I got taught how to think… how to write, how to analyze, and how to challenge the status quo and I was inspired– to actually do something with my life. My time with the economics department at USM gave me, the former hoodlum, who comes from a working class family like many of you, the opportunity to get an actual education, and the opportunity to pursue whatever dreams I wanted.

The Board of Trustees, President Flanagan, and Joseph McDonnell, don’t want USM to be that kind of school anymore. They don’t think that you, or your tuition, is worth a real education.

You can debate the reality of a financial crisis here at USM, in fact, a lot of people do, many of whom have PhDs in quantitative fields.

But, one thing you cannot debate, is that the so called budget crisis is being used to camouflage the true agenda: to drastically change the University of Southern Maine from a university at which you can get a transformative education like I did, to one in which you can only learn how to punch numbers into an Excel spreadsheet or administer vaccinations at the Maine Medical Center. The writing is on the walls. They are trying to whittle us down to just a business, nursing, and tech school: job training.

The vision the Board of Trustees has for USM is not one where students can be challenged and given the tools necessary to maybe someday get a PhD. In their eyes, if you want that, you should go to a private school like Bowden or Bates, something few people reading these words could ever hope to afford.

The vision the Board of Trustees, Flanagan, and McDonnell have is one where USM is simply an appendage to the corporate world. Year after year, turning out debt-ridden, standardized, workers to the business needs of southern Maine, much like the assembly lines that many of them supervised in their private careers.

Maine is better than this. Mainers who can’t afford places like Bates deserve a good education too. We all deserve an opportunity to reach our potential.

 

We have a true gem here at USM, and we need to protect it, not just for ourselves, but for the future middle class Mainers who want the same opportunity that I got, the same opportunity that you all so fleetingly have. If we don’t make a stand, USM’s future will be that of a glorified technical school.

Fight back, and please remember, I learned from personal experience that these people you are fighting against, the Board of Trustees, President Flanagan, Joseph McDonnell, the bulk of the Republican and Democratic parties are deceitful, strategic, and calculating in what they say and how they say it. Do not fall for their ruses and pretexts.

Protest. Write letters to the editor. Contact your legislature. Let people know that we will hold those accountable who let this happen under their watch.

And most importantly, get angry.

Thank you.

 

Michael Havlin graduated last May as a double major in business and economics. He is now attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst for a dual master’s degree.

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