The University of Southern Maine is being criticized for having briefly offered a tuition-free “pop-up” credit to students enrolled there to be transported to Washington, D.C. to call on Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) to vote against confirming Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Two employees at the university discussed in an email the academic credit for what was called an “Engaged Citizenship” course. The email was exposed on Facebook by the Republican Party of Maine. To earn the credit, students would have been required to take a bus overnight to Washington and rendezvous with activists meeting with Collins. The stated goal of the trip was to “Rally up around the FBI investigation of the Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh.”

Transportation was to be provided by the publicly-funded university. The email provided a link to a Google survey where students could identify themselves and tell how they planned to be involved. Prospective student attendees were instructed to check options such as “I am a survivor and willing to share my story to the public (Livestream, rally, press)” and “I am interested in civil disobedience/willing to get arrested (Bail is about $50/arrest. Please have a plan.)”

It was also revealed, in another related conversation, that a student who asked if he could participate but protest in support of Kavanaugh’s candidacy was allegedly told that he would have to find his own transportation.

University of Southern Maine President Glenn Cummings released a statement on Wednesday that the pop-up credit protest was “hastily arranged, without the knowledge of the Provost or myself.”

“As soon as the Provost and I were apprised of the course, we immediately pulled the one-credit offering. We also made sure that no USM monies were being used for the trip,” the statement said. It went on to say, “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.”

titution Wednesday night, saying a retired professor acted in a “rogue manner” when she offered students a “pop-up” course and college credit to take a bus to Washington, D.C., with demonstrators planning to urge Sen. Susan Collins to oppose confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Cummings told the Press-Herald newspaper that Dr. Susan Feiner -- a retired former professor of economics and womens studies -- had “acted in a very rogue manner” by offering the course. He added that her "behavior was inappropriate. It was unacceptable.”

Actress/activist Alyssa Milano showed up at the office of Sen. Collins, along with other members of the #MeToo movement, to share her account of being sexually assaulted. Using the technique that has come to be known as the “human microphone,” a group of women accompanying Milano repeat in unison her account of the assault she claims occurred when she was 19 years old. Similar protests were held across the country by the groups aligned with University of Southern Maine.



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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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