Around New England

No Free College and We Can’t Conduct A Sit-In at the House Speaker’s Office?

May 25, 2019

Massachusetts public college students who threatened a sit-in at the Massachusetts House Speaker’s office earlier this week are expressing outrage that they were threatened with being arrested if they did.

The students, members of Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts, which calls itself “PHENOM” for short, were demanding free college from state legislators. Frustrated with the lack of acquiescence to their demands, the students later said they were surprised by the reaction when they announced they planned to occupy a portion of the office of Robert DeLeo, the Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

“On Tuesday afternoon after sitting outside the Speaker’s office for multiple days, we decided to sit directly inside the office and were immediately threatened with arrest,” three University of Massachusetts at Amherst students said in a press release. “…The Speaker himself didn’t threaten arrest, yet as an authority in the Speaker’s office, this court officer’s threat sent a clear message: the Speaker would rather have students arrested than meet with them.”

Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo offered a significantly different interpretation of events:

Here’s a major policy statement from the student group PHENOM, taken from the organization’s web site: