The President of the University of Southern Maine is putting the brakes on a course that would have given students a college credit for protesting Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Women’s Studies Professor Susan Feiner attempted to offer a “pop-up course” that would allow USM undergraduate students to take a free bus trip to Washington D.C. Wednesday night. They would have been traveling with protesters and sexual assault survivors asking Senator Susan Collins to oppose Kavanaugh.
“This is an opportunity for students to see history in the making,” said Feiner.
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It’s not clear how many students received the email advertising the trip, but one former student posted screen shots to social media this week. The email included a link to a survey which asked if participants would be willing to be arrested during protests.
The Maine GOP posted the screen shots to its Facebook page, and urged people to call USM President Glenn Cummings.
“Tell him you don’t approve of how he’s spending your tax dollars,” read the post, which has been shared more than 700 times.
President Cummings issued a statement Wednesday evening saying the pop-up course was cancelled.
“This pop-up course was hastily arranged in the past 24 hours, without the knowledge of the Provost or myself. It was not appropriately reviewed nor went through proper channels,” the President’s statement read.
"University policy makes it absolutely clear that our public, taxpayer-funded institutions must be non-partisan in terms of political activity and institutionally impartial in all political, religious and social matters that are unrelated to our universities' core mission of education, research, and public service."
Professor Feiner insists this was not meant to be a partisan exercise. She says if students wanting to support the nomination wanted to enroll in the course and take the trip, they would have been welcome. “We were not dictating what students do once they get to DC,” she said.
Some students said they supported the concept of the course – even if it broke university policy.
“Every college should take a stand,” said student Mustfa Kadhim. “We have to support women.”
Others felt it was a step too far.
“I feel like there’s a time and a place for protesting,” said Ian Trumpler. “I feel like it shouldn’t be run through the school. That’s an easy credit for the kids, but kind of crazy for a professor to offer.”