Hi folks, below (in alphabetical order) are all the candidates running for the 2 organizing committee positions we have open this year.
Voting will occur on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th of October, and will span most of the day (9am-7pm on the 4rd and 4th; 9am-5pm on the 5th) on each day. Voting must be done in person at the GEO office – Quinn – 02 – 081- and ballots will be provided by the GEO when you come in to vote.
Please read our candidates’ bios/platforms so you can cast your vote!
NAME: Michelle Ashley
PROGRAM: Counseling and School Psychology
PLATFORM: Graduate and professional student representation is imperative for a positive experience while pursuing a post-graduate degree. All too often, we can be forgotten due to a larger and more profitable undergraduate base. We need vocal advocates who can express to administration and faculty our needs as students and employees. I have previously served as a graduate student representative while attending Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville and Tufts University. I also have worked on the national level for the National Association for Graduate and Professional Students. I am confident that I have the skills and background to support our GEO.
One of the reasons I chose to attend UMass – Boston is because of the progressive relationship between the GEO and the administration. I want to further our progress by addressing issues that impact us directly, such as increased parking fees and the lack of dining options for evening class attendees. I will also propose a Graduate Student Research Symposium that would be open for students from all departments to showcase their research and learn about research in other departments. Please support me in beginning the next chapter for our GEO.
NAME: Drew Bevis
PROGRAM: MFA; Creative Writing
BIO: Drew Bevis is a second-year graduate student, writer, and organizer in the creative writing program at UMass Boston. Originally from Nashville, TN, he has worked in Boston for the last 3 years in international education, designing and implementing primary school curriculum for particularly impoverished communities in Africa and India. He continues to do that work while in graduate school full time. In addition to school work and “work work”, he has spent the last year politically organizing in Boston through Socialist Alternative, specifically focusing on campaigns to fight the affordable housing crisis in and around the city (learn more about it here!). If you are interested in getting involved with the struggle for working people all over the city, he’d love to talk.
PLATFORM: UMass Boston is a special, exciting place. But it is not special because of our new dorms or parking garages. Nor is it exciting because of its potential for development or corporate partnerships. What makes UMB special is what has always made it special: its diverse and driven student-body and its urban mission as Boston’s only public university. As graduate students and workers, we are in a unique position to recognize, appreciate, and defend the special character of our school’s student body, faculty, and staff.
As an active member of Socialist Alternative here in Boston, over the past year I have worked in organizing campaigns in and around the city of Boston on issues such as affordable housing and securing better working and living conditions for working class people in our communities. On campus, I have been witness to the amazing work of the Save UMB Coalition and have recently helped to organize around the parking struggle that so many members of the community have been affected by. As a result, I have come to understand that the key to organizing is not a well-crafted appeal to those in positions of power, but that the true power of our union, and our community at large, lies in the working people who fight for themselves, their colleagues, and their students.
As a member of the GEO organizing committee, my first priority will always be to respond to and fight for the members of our union. From the smallest frustration surrounding a contract question to important and delicate grievances, I promise to bring my whole self to this position.
Moreover, I recognize that the UMass Boston community is currently fighting against the forces of privatization that threaten its mission to serve the underserved by providing an excellent and affordable education for all. I believe that our union has the power and the responsibility to go beyond ourselves to help fight for the entire UMB community, and I’d be honored to continue the great work of those who’ve laid a foundation of cooperation to help fight for a fair and equal UMB for all.
NAME: Jimena Cascante Matamoros
PROGRAM: MS; Transnational, Cultural and Community, Studies
BIO: My undergrad experience was a mixture of many different worlds. I explored the world of science, humanities and in the way I found a place in the activism world fighting for -and with- women and the LGBTQ community for our rights in my country, learning to express and share myself through the arts of poetry, spoken word and even clowning. These are all the parts of the puzzle I’m trying to put together in this life, which just keeps getting bigger and more colorful as I find the communities to which I belong.
PLATFORM: I’m an international graduate student from Costa Rica. This past year attending UMass Boston has taught me a great deal about creating/working with/growing as communities, as well as facing the challenges of being, and working as, a graduate student of color in the U.S. I would like to take the opportunity to join the GEO to do my part in building a better university together. I also look forward to putting my experience to work from my backgrounds as a teaching assistant in chemistry while also holding a BA in gender equality and sustainable development.
NAME: Brian Fitzpatrick
PROGRAM: MA, Applied Economics
BIO: I was raised in Tewksbury Massachusetts and attended a charter school in Tyngsborough. The high turnover rate and constant pressure on my non-union high school teachers convinced me of the power of a union. For my undergraduate degree I studied English Literature and Philosophy. Before joining the economics department at Umass Boston, I worked several union and non-union jobs, including as a security guard, greens grocer, and high school English teacher. My experience at work has shown me that there is a huge difference in dignity when you belong to a union; the boss might try to bully you, but you don’t have to take it.
PLATFORM: In the wake of the Janus decision we need to internally organize GEO membership. I have participated in several union and contract campaigns as a member/worker. As a worker at La Montanita Coop in New Mexico I helped lead a card signing campaign that eventually led to union recognition. Later, as a member of the UFCW I helped organize a slowdown and information campaign in response to low wages and wage theft, eventually forcing management to make concessions before our contract was due to be renegotiated. As a student my research has focused on the union premium to wages and benefits. Last winter I was sent to Labor Notes 2018 and learned about the various ways unions are responding to the present climate.
UMass Boston graduate students must stick together to face down a government that does not care about livable working conditions or wages for state employees. We must fight now to consolidate our victories and prepare to fight for better conditions. I look forward to participating in that work.
NAME: Yaeli Foint
PROGRAM: Business Administration, Organizations and Social Change
BIO: Yaeli Foint is a third-year graduate student in the Organizations and Social Change PhD program in the College of Management. Prior to coming to UMass Boston, Yaeli worked at a nonprofit in western Massachusetts developing community engagement programming. She has degrees in criminal justice, psychology, and sociology from the University of Hartford, where she also served on the university board advocating for students. Yaeli’s research focuses on social innovation and population empowerment in international development efforts. She loves cardigans, authenticity, and the color blue.
PLATFORM: I love rooting for the underdog, and at UMass Boston, graduate students are the underdogs. As a member of the GEO Organizing Committee, I will advocate for better wages, increased healthcare coverage, formalized medical and parental leave policies, and reduced parking rates for grad students. Grad student labor is the fuel that powers UMass Boston, and we deserve to be compensated accordingly. Serving on the GEO Organizing Committee will allow me to put my passion for social justice, distaste for contract violations, and negotiation skills to work for you, my fellow UMass Boston graduate students.
NAME: Sharell Jacobs
PROGRAM: School for the Environment
BIO: My name is Sharell Jacobs and I am a 2018 graduate from UMass Boston’s Community Development bachelor’s degree program. I am currently a TA for environmental 187 working alongside Dr. Christian and Dr. Boyle, as well enrolled as a fulltime student looking to accomplish my master’s degree in the Urban Planning and Community Development program. I am also employed at College Bound Dorchester, a youth opportunity educational program for students living in the Dorchester community. I have most recently been nominated and won an international leadership recognition from NABFEME organization and will be presented with this award September 28, 2018 at the International House in Philadelphia PA.
PLATFORM: I am writing this letter in support of my 2018 nomination for the GEO organizing committee. Attaining this nomination will not just benefit me as an employee but benefit me as an employee assisting to create a change not just within the university but within the city of Boston. I feel that I am a perfect candidate to add some special effects to the GEO committee. Most recently I graduated in May 2018 from the School for environment with my bachelor’s in Community Development with a minor in economics, while also being presented with the economic development award of the year 2018. I was later offered a position as a TA as well as being enrolled fulltime student in Urban Planning and Development which have allowed me the opportunity such as this. I am also a College Readiness Advisor for College Bound Dorchester which allows me to demonstrate the importance of education to youth opportunity students in the Dorchester community. These accomplishments have positioned me to lead while being an example to students, showing them that anything is possible. With the diversity I will bring to the GEO department, I am hoping that more minority students become involved and with my position help demonstrate the unification amongst students and departments on campus.
NAME: Julia Lattimer
PROGRAM: MFA; Creative Writing
BIO: Julia Lattimer is a poet from Richmond, Virginia studying creative writing at UMass Boston’s MFA program. Entering her second year at UMB, and in Boston, she is looking for ways to cultivate creative spaces that sustain arts communities, literary communities, queer communities, and communities against violence. She seeks to challenge the problematic forces that hinder higher education and support underrepresented voices in academic and creative institutions. She runs a queer poetry night out of her living room once a month and is the Poetry Editor for UMB’s graduate literary publication, Breakwater Review. When she’s not caught smiling to herself over how much she loves the stuff she’s studying, she can be found frowning at whatever’s going on in the news or spilling coffee on everything.
PLATFORM: Since coming to UMass Boston I have been utterly transformed by its mission to provide institutional support for nontraditional students. Never have I seen a campus so proud to be diverse with so many first-generation college students (61% of undergraduates!) and a huge international student population. I cherish the opportunities I’ve had to step outside of my graduate department—either as a TA, a tutor, a poster-holder at a rally—because I find reasons to be proud of my school in the comradery of our joint-education. We are all learning to better our campus and city-wide communities using whatever tools we can offer.
As a graduate student, I have to be aware that Masters and PhD candidates are sustaining this growing university—doing much of the tedious work that allows the bureaucracy to function, teaching many, many of its brilliant undergraduates, and presenting research to conferences around the world in UMass Boston’s name. We’re happy to contribute to the undoubtedly growing reputation of UMB and only hope that our university continues to support the hard work we’re doing in our fields.
As a GEO Organizing Committee member, I pledge to always respond to emails. I want to be graduate students’ point-of-contact for the university, helping them find answers to their questions about scholarships and funding. I want to hear about their amazing projects and facilitate support for their work. And if things aren’t going the way they expected them to, I want to help them use the resources that the Graduate Employee Organization can provide to resolve the issue in their favor. I am proud to be a UMass Boston graduate student and look forward to providing direct assistance to the Masters and PhD candidates who are crucial to the everyday operations and skyrocketing reputation of this campus.
NAME: Steve Loren
PROGRAM: College of Management
BIO: Steve has been associated with the financial community in New York since the 1990s and has achieved both an MBA in Finance and Investments as well as the CFA Charter and Financial Risk Manager Designations. Prior to embarking on the path to Wall Street, Steve studied philosophy and psychology and developed a strong interest in social theory, which led him to take some doctoral classes in philosophy while still an undergraduate. Long active in environmental and consumer organizations, Steve has always thought and acted at the intersection of Business and Society. He has chaired the Sustainable Investing Committee of the New York Society of Securities Analysts and has worked to advance the use of Environmental, Social and Governance metrics and criteria into the investment management process, including asset selection and portfolio construction. In his role at NYSSA, Steve has organized conferences featuring world renowned financial practitioners and academics who are leading the way to creating a more just and sustainable society.
PLATFORM: My name is Steve Loren and I thank you for supporting my candidacy to represent you at the GEO. I have a strong interest in social justice and have seen what effective collective organizing can achieve, both here at UMB and elsewhere. The rising tide of unionism in the academic sphere, especially with respect to student organizing needs to continue in a manner that wins tangible gains in employment conditions and protections for Graduate Students. I am certain that I can achieve significant gains for UMB graduate workers. Part of an effective strategy will be to form alliances with Unions in other academic institutions to create the kind of political momentum necessary to win over administration and governmental officials on the importance of a secure and protected academic workforce that is the backbone of the infrastructure and talent that leads to path-breaking advances in all fields of inquiry. Our workforce lays the foundation for the future of our educated young in terms of the intangible aspects of civic mindedness, historical understanding and the development of character. Our workforce also underpins the advances, both social, scientific and technical, that leads to improving lives and society. Underscoring and communicating our central role in promoting ‘the good society’ will be a key political aspect of effectively securing improving working conditions and protections for all graduate students. As a government funded entity we must rely on convincing our political leaders of our importance and the necessity of funding our work and well being. We must also make this clear to our administration so that priorities reflect the importance of our role.
In terms of experience, I have significant experience working with a number of environmental and social justice organizations including a large Union that has worked primarily in the healthcare sector. I will bring passion and commitment to this role and I am motivated by personal life experiences, including being raised in a single parent household which scrapped by at the poverty level for decades. I know first-hand the meaning and importance of a Union like ours, both from seeing what the lack of such protections can mean to those who have been close to me both as family and friends. I will be honored to have the opportunity to serve.
NAME: Katsyris Rivera-Kientz
BIO: Katsyris Rivera Kientz is a Ph.D. student in the Sociology Department at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Her research interests include transnationalism, the Puerto Rican diasporic community, race and gender issues, education and the United States-Puerto Rico political relationship. She graduated from the University of Puerto Rico in Cayey in 2016 with a major in Psychology and Mental Health. She completed a Master in Science at UMB’s Transnational, Cultural and Community Studies program in 2018. She has worked with access to education projects, the failing student-financial aid system, issues concerning underrepresented minorities at UMass Boston, animal welfare, among others. She is very motivated into becoming part of the GEO committee, continue building community and fighting for fair labor conditions as graduate employees.
PLATFORM: I have been part of the UMass Boston community since Fall 2016, when I started a master’s program in TCCS. I graduated on May 2018 and I just began a PhD program in Sociology. Therefore, I plan to spend at least four more years in this great community. I am a Puerto Rican young female, who is politically active and has a strong belief in social justice. I have been active in different social justice-related collective advocacy efforts on and off campus – also while in Puerto Rico. I have been involved in the University of Puerto Rico’s student movement, which advocated against local and systemic budget cuts, fee increases, resources, infrastructure and often supported the UPR worker’s and teachers’ unions in P.R. I have also been involved in efforts that advocate for a sustainable higher education financing system and end massive student debts.
I am devoted to actively contribute to the UMB community and being part of the GEO committee will give me the opportunity to use my organizing and negotiating skills to work collectively towards attaining the best graduate employee conditions as possible. Under the current atrocious political, economic and social atmospheres, collective action and bargaining becomes crucial for advocating for our – and everyone’s – rights. That is why I feel the call for serving on the UMass Boston’s GEO committee. I commit to dedicate time to the discussion of 100% health insurance coverage, as well as dental and vision insurances, and the implementation of different austerity measures but also, support graduate students that might be having difficulties solving disputes within their work environment. I recognize the positive impact that us, graduate students, bring to the UMass Boston student body and the importance of our labor conditions and rights. I would like to continue my graduate career while representing our graduate student community on improving our experiences and actively addressing different existing and upcoming situations concerning our community.
NAME: Wes Smith
PROGRAM: MFA; Creative Writing
BIO: Wes Smith is a fifteen year Army Veteran. He received his BA and MA, both in English from Indian University. He is currently enrolled in the MFA Poetry program. After the Army, one of his jobs was working for a grocery chain that benefited from the employees belonging to a union. He is new to the Boston area but loves the area and UMass Boston was his top pick of MFA programs. He has worked as a TA and as an Adjunct professor at Indiana University where he was active in Writer’s Club, the President of Sigma Tau Delta, and helped start a veteran’s writing workshop.
PLATFORM: I want to serve on the GEO because over half of my adult life has been working and serving others. I served in the Army for 15 years, and I have also served my community by working as Construction Coordinator for Habitat for Humanity for 2 years and as a Weekend Supervisor for 3 years. I enjoy being active and through my past work as well as through what I have developed in my degree programs, I communicate effectively and work to see other people’s positions before responding, in order to make a well-formed and appropriate decision. I enjoy working to help others and by working with the GEO, I can continue what has become a major aspect of my life, by making a difference and serving for you.
NAME: Ashley Torres
PROGRAM: MS; Transnational, Cultural, and Community Studies
BIO: Ashley Torres (she/her/hers) is an Afro-puertorriqueña first-generation graduate. In 2018 she received the Women’s Gender and Sexualities studies founders’ Award for Academic Excellence and Social Activism. She has been involved in different organizations such as Strong Women Strong Girls, Casa Latinx, and has been an active social participant for the Beacon Voyages for Service. She currently works for a non-profit, Wayside Youth and Family Networks, working with youth experiencing housing insecurities. Ashley’s passion is to work with girls, women and LGBTQ people on empowerment through education which have lead her to combine her social justice activism with several research projects, through the Latino Leadership Opportunity Program and the Gaston Institute.
PLATFORM: I would like to be part of the GEO committee because I believe in the efforts of the organization, representation is important and needed for change. I think as a team we can let our voices be heard and mobilized for lower parking rates tuition fees and, more access to minorities, undocumented and students who are parents.
NAME: Andria Warren
PROGRAM: MFA; Creative Writing
BIO: Andria Warren is a native east Tennessean, a first generation college student, and nature lover. Dedicated to making the world a better place one microcosm at a time, she thrives most when helping others. Your success is her success!
PLATFORM: As a graduate student who has been personally, devastatingly affected by the financial practices of the university, I am empathetic to the needs and concerns of my peers. Grad school is difficult enough without having to navigate the system to get your needs met—getting your paycheck on time, feeling safe and secure acting in your assistantships, and overall gaining an education without overextending yourself. I want to make the world a better place, and I want my fellow students to enjoy the benefits and peace of that better world, even if that world is within the microcosm of UMass Boston.