UMass CESL promotes learning for life-long, engaged citizenship, partnering with communities on and off campus to work collectively for a more just society.

Lindsay McCluskey

Lindsay McCluskey joined the Community for Social Progress in her sophomore year (2006). She graduated from UMass Amherst in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology.Lindsay lives in Washington, DC, where until August 2011 she served as president of the United States Student Association, the nation’s oldest and largest student organization ( The organization represents over 400 college campuses and 4.5 million students on many issues that concern students, most notably college access and affordability. Lindsay’s work in community engagement, education policy, and student equity began early at UMass Amherst. In her freshman year she enrolled in the UMass Alliance for Community Transformation ( alternative spring break class, where she explored how people mobilize social power. In the spring of her freshman year Lindsay participated in Tent State University, a week of encampments and teach-ins on the UMass Amherst campus to promote awareness of the challenges facing public higher education and to mobilize students in its support. In her sophomore year Lindsay helped to found the UMass chapter of PHENOM (the Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts). She was instrumental in helping to organize PHENOM’s first statewide lobby day—now an annual event. Lindsay helped to organize a delegation from UMass to attend the summer national meeting of the United States Student Association. At the meeting she was elected to their board of directors and served in that capacity in her junior and senior years.

At the end of her junior year, UMass students elected Lindsay to the post of Student Trustee, which is the student representative to the UMass System Board of Trustees. Lindsay’s classes and her political work during her time at UMass convinced her that higher education was a right that needed to be defended and that there was much work that could be done by students to promote equitable access to higher education. Lindsay saw a considerable need for students to be better organized both locally and nationally to protect their rights, and she saw the United States Student Association as a way to develop those capacities. During her time at the organization, she generated institutional campaigns that helped support higher education, and helped to register and mobilize voters around education issues. Lindsay notes that her time in Washington, DC, has been challenging and rewarding. She says that her organization is proud to be led by young people:

Folks who are directly affected ought to be involved. At the same time, at age 22 it’s a real challenge to lead a national organization representing over 4 million people. There’s so much going on right now. We were part of passing student financial aid reform last year and I was present when Pelosi and Obama signed their respective parts of the bill. Being part of this was huge and I am certain that without students being organized and vocal that the reform would not have happened. (L. McCluskey, personal communication, November 2010)