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Key students and faculty involved in the USM protests


Phillip Shelley was still sitting in Hannaford Hall, listening to University of Southern Maine President Theodora Kalikow lay out millions in cuts - including laying off tenured faculty - when he knew he had to fight the cuts. He hadn't even left the building before he'd given one of the most heated comments in the public forum, and he and others have emerged as a core members of the USM student protests.


  • Philip Shelley, 51

    USM English graduate, December 2013.

    Career goal: Teach high school English.

    Previous activism: Limited to writing opinion editorials, does not see himself as an activist.

    Call to action: "We need to preserve higher education as a right, not a privilege. We're coming into an election year and this is a topic that deserves to be on the front burner."

    Photo: Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

  • Jules Purnell, 28

    Junior, sociology and women and gender studies. Small business owner, film production company./p>

    Career goals: Get a PhD and teach in the deaf community.

    Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio.

    Previous activism: Canvassing work with Equality Maine and work with Planned Parenthood.

    Call to action:: "I see the things happening at USM as part of the larger austerity movement around the globe and in the United States. Higher education is this bastion that shouldn't be messed with. It should be accessible to everyone."

    Photo: Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

  • Marpheen S. Chann-Berry, 22

    Senior, political science; attending UMaine School of Law in the fall; Vice-president, USM Student Government Association.

    Hometown: Naples, Maine.

    Previous activism: Helped establish the Queer-Straight Alliance at USM; campaigned for Christine Powers for State Representative in District 101 in 2012; interned for the Democratic Party.

    Call to action: "Our stake in the (University of Maine) system is large, larger even than the state's. We should have more of a say in these decisions. I hate it when the system refers to us as customers. I see us more as stakeholders."

    Photo: Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

  • Wendy Chapkis

    Professor of Sociology and Women and Gender Studies

    At USM: 14 years

    Degree: Ph.D., Sociology, University of California at Santa Cruz

    Call to action: "Ever since I was a kid I thought inequality and injustice was unbearable. There's a part of me that cannot look away and cannot survive the horrors of it without doing something."

    Activist roots: Recalls seeing the fires from the Watts riots in Los Angeles as a child; protested against the Vietnam War in high school and for anti-apartheid divestment in college. Over the years, she has been involved in various anti-war protests and the Occupy protests.

    Photo: Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

  • Susan Feiner

    Professor of Economics

    At USM: 19 years

    Degree: Ph.D. in economics from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

    Call to action: "I've always known that when I see injustice, when I see something that is wrong, it is a moral and ethical and patriotic obligation to bring that injustice into public awareness."

    Activist roots: Feiner said she's been "an activist all my life." Her late father, Irving Feiner, became central to the Constitutional debate over free speech when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld his conviction on charges of disorderly conduct for dangerously provoking a crowd as he spoke from a soapbox in Syracuse in 1949 when he was a student there. Feiner said her grandmother was a Freedom Rider and her mother marched in Washington, D.C., with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As an adult, she has been regularly involved in anti-war protests and other political activism.

    Photo: Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer