Friday, June 10, 2016

Help Save UMass Boston

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Please join me in taking these critical actions to strengthen our campaign and influence key decision-makers.



UMass Boston faculty, staff and students led a protest outside a meeting of the University of Massachusetts trustees' Administration and Finance Committee Wednesday morning. [Photo: Katie Lannan/SHNS]



UMass Boston faculty, staff and students led a protest outside a meeting of the University of Massachusetts trustees' Administration and Finance Committee Wednesday morning. [Photo: Katie Lannan/SHNS]

Come aboard the 
"Stop the Hikes and Cuts" bus!

Join UMass Boston students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community allies on Wednesday, June 15 as we confront UMass system President Marty Meehan, the UMass Boston Board of Trustees, and the UMB administration to say a big and public "No!" to tuition hikes, increased class sizes, and cuts to faculty, staff, and essential services.

Departing: 7am, Wednesday, June 15 - UMass Boston


Destination: 8:30am, Board of Trustees Meeting - UMass Memorial Medical Center, 55 North Lake Ave, Worcester, MA

Returning: Noon - UMass Boston

Note: The "Stop the Hikes and Cuts" bus is free and all supporters are welcome! Those who want to drive separately can meet us there! 








SAMPLE MESSAGE: 

Please support the Senate allocation for the UMass budget. Adequate funding for public higher education in Massachusetts is essential to ensuring that the Commonwealth has the skilled workforce it needs, that its citizens can participate in the knowledge-based economy and for the growth of the Commonwealth.

Four hundred faculty at UMass Boston were recently given notices of non-reappointment. This hurts our students by limiting the choice of classes, increasing class size, and delaying graduation. 

As a UMass [student, alum, staff member, faculty member, ally] I have seen the decline in support from the state lead to higher tuition and fees and now fewer faculty. We must provide an education of the highest possible quality to our students, and that requires adequate funding to maintain the faculty and staffing levels we currently have at UMass without shifting even more of our burden to students and their families through tuition increases.

More than two dozen Umass Boston students and faculty protested potential tuition hikes and budget cuts, calling it a “crime against education” while the UMass Board of Trustees met feet away inside the University of Massachusetts Club this morning . Holding signs and chanting “They say cuts, we say fight back,” students and members of the Faculty Staff Union argued proposed cuts would detract from the educational experience on campus, including a close student to teacher relationship.



“I really love my school. It’s unique. It provides accessible high quality education to urban youth who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it,” said Phil O’Connor, 21 of Boston, who graduated this spring. 


“It’s taking that accessibility away from those who might not have the opportunity.”



In May, UMB administration announced their proposed plans to increase class sizes from a 14:1 student to teacher ratio to 17:1 and slice 400 non-tenure teacher jobs to close a projected budget gap of $22.3 million.

UMB Chancellor J. Keith Motley, however, said he has not approved any cuts on campus and that most staff who received pink slips would be called back for the fall.

Inside the University of Massachusetts Club on Beacon Street today, the Umass Board of Trustee’s Committee on Administration and Finance postponed a vote on tuition rates, opting to wait until the state finalizes its budget. The UMass system won’t know its final appropriation until July.

“I think it is important we have a better sense of what we have,” UMass President Marty Meehan said.

He said his talks with House and Senate leadership “informed the decision that we should really wait to see what’s going to happen.”

“Our goal is to arrive at the best possible appropriation,” Meehan added. “There’s a lot of uncertainty given the revenue numbers.”

The specter of looming tuition increases comes after UMass trustees approved a 5 percent hike in June 2015 after two years of tuition and fee freezes. Tuition for the 2015-2016 school year ranged from $12,588 at UMass Dartmouth to $14,171 at UMass Amherst.

UMass trustees said they wanted to wait to see how much money the state appropriates before making any decisions on raising tuition and fees.


Mass trustee David Fubini said the university’s potential for revenue is limited in two ways, bound on one side by the potential for tuition increases and on the other by “the realities of state funding.”
“We have to find a way to get out of that box,” Fubini said. “And one of the ways is to do more with our existing operations, and that means getting more leverage out of our existing faculty and administrative staff, and that means academic efficiencies.”

Faculty, alumni and students from UMass Boston and Lowell marched outside the downtown Boston building where university officials met, protesting against potential tuition hikes and faculty reductions.
Joe Ramsey, a lecturer in English and American studies at UMass Boston, said he was concerned higher costs would force financially struggling students to take on more debt or pick up extra work hours outside of class, taking away attention from their studies.

“I have students who are working 40 hours a week at the same time they’re going to school already,” Ramsey said. “The $600, $700 difference this tuition hike could make could mean that they’re not going to be able to come back, and that’s wrong. We should be going in the other direction. We should be making tuition more affordable.”

UMass trustees said they wanted to wait to see how much money the state appropriates before making any decisions on raising tuition and fees.


UMass administrators expect the state’s budget to be finalized in the coming weeks. After that, a special Board of Trustees meeting will be called to vote on the price hikes.

“We’re going to advocate for a higher level of funding from the state,” Connolly said of the delay. 
“We think this strengthens our position.”

For officials, the logic was simple, he said: “Why act before you have to?”

In May, the Massachusetts Senate unveiled its version of the budget, which included a 1.5 percent increase in funding for the UMass system, slightly higher than the recommendations of 1 percent from the House and governor. The three budget proposals — recommending appropriations between $500 million and $520 million — will provide a modest increase in appropriation to the university system, especially compared to increases in recent years.

The protesters outside the meeting and the administrators inside agreed on at least one matter: The state was not spending nearly enough money on UMass.


“Fundamentally, the bigger problem is that there is not enough funding from the state,” said Anneta Argyres, director of the Labor Extension Program at UMass Boston. “We think first that the Legislature should fully fund public education in Massachusetts.”

Trustee David Fubini said the five-college system and the board should be looking for ways to do more with less, rather than thinking about cuts. He suggested looking to other university systems, in California, New Jersey, and Texas, that have faced declining state support.

Hess, of UMass Boston, said that at the end of the day, he wants to see administrators act in students’ best interest.

“Graduates from UMass stay here,” he said. “We’re the people who will drive Boston’s future.”

Posted by Jai Krishna Ponnappan

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