mtg 4 tasks,,, <>,, <>, Rebecca Bender <>

Howdy folks,

A few notes from our #4 meeting (Tue, 2.12.13):

1.  Sorry for the hierarchical talk/top-down directions at our last meeting.  Too much instructor talk – not enough dialogue and sharing.  Thanks for Lauren’s suggestion as to a regular meeting protocol:  start with a go-round check-ins/updates and then planning.

2.  Needs to be fun.  Not that I know much about that.  The subject we’re addressing is oh so serious.  Thanks to Maggie and Gemma for lightening it all with twittering sharp comedic play.  A regular pleasure (and art form) to peruse.

3.  If you haven’t seen the latest posts, check out Lauren’s the debtor games — you are not a loan tumblr site.  Among others, the “Scumbag University MemeMake Your Own and send them to us or tag #studentagainstdebt so we can see your creations!!” is rather incredible.  It seems the issue of outrageous college costs and debt is triggering action all over the place.

4. Draft individual learning goals/contract:  By Monday (2.18), write out semester learning contract to include:

  • Particular focus  — how it fits the groups project goals:  debt fence, get E.Warren
  • Weekly assignment expectations:  bi-weekly blog post, signage
  • Semester timetable
  • What do you hope to learn?  Knowledge, skills.

5.  Review blog posts

  • What’s the focus?  I want people to be open in writing about the issues that come to you based on the particular focus, tactics (social media, IRL connections) and questions you’re facing.  As with any creative art project, let the material emerge as it will; follow your intuition; these posts are not be for the grade, but a means of sharing, making sense of the engaging material we’re developing.
  • Review the blog post you’ve thus far drafted.  Consider whether it needs revision to sharpen focus.
  • Follow-up – next post in two weeks.

6.  Debt Fence Planning-timetable group:  Erika, Lauren, Gemma, Maggie, Rebecca

  • Plan overall campaign strategy/timetable that includes outreach to potential partners, leafleting/table tents, tabling, video, Dept. of Comm. dialogue, etc., debt fence kick-off (3.30/31), E. Warren forum, etc.
  • As part of this planning, brainstorm potential partners – faculty, grad. students, organizations, departments, programs, campus businesses including student-run coops, Greeks, etc.  Even off-campus.  Pasted at very bottom are some groups I thought would be purposeful to approach.
  • Create campaign flyer and 1-page project description that includes ways to participate.
  • EVERYONE – ID 3-5 faculty/grad. students who might be willing to participate (Comm., otherwise);  3 campus groups to start with that you will seek to engage.
  • We should be ready to begin outreach next week and have outreach materials ready to go.
  • I’ve added a few sentences to the project description (below) that includes information to instructions asking them to consider integrating aspects of this project in their curriculum.

A Debt Fence for Community Dialogue on the Economic Squeeze

To generate a community dialogue around the severity of student debt and the economic squeeze so many are facing, we are creating a grassroots signage campaign around campus, including a “debt fence” outside the Student Union.  We want students to understand that they are not alone in facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

Beginning with mug shots that display the debt load a student faces, we hope to post other first-person testimonials, photos, information, articles, artwork, quotes, and more to grab the attention of students, faculty, and campus employees as they pass by.

To make this a grassroots process that engages a wide range of people, we seek to enlist various classes, departments, groups and organizations around campus to help support and expand this dialogue.

For students, faculty, and teaching assistants, we ask you to consider how you might work some project assignment related to your class topic into varied issues this touches:  the larger social burden of indebtedness, economic justice, a fair economy, visioning alternative futures, sustainability, social change, grassroots communication strategies, social media activism, political art, civic engagement, community dialogue, etc.

The project is being organized by an independent study cohort in the Department of Communication.  The group is focused on mobilizing campus support through a combination of online and in-real-life activist strategies.  Some of the social media that’s part of this campaign include:


2.  the debtor games,  you are not a-loan, at

3.  for a comedic take, check out PoorUmassStudent@UMass@UMassDebtPrblmz at

Coalition building for Debt Fence – possible partner orgs: 

    • SU coops – Earthfoods, Peoples Market, Bike Coop
    • Student Union Gallery
    • CEPA – Center for Educational Policy and Advocacy, Jen Healy Student Trustee
    • GEO/MSP (graduate instructors/faculty union)
    • PHEOM – Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts
    • Dept of Communication faculty/grad/unergrad students, Women’s Studies, Art Dept.
    • Grassroots organizing class
    • Food for Thought Books
    • Stonewall Center

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