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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMass Boston, along with its student body, will soon be unrecognizable


Over the years, UMass Boston has gained some recognition for its dedication to serving the urban, middle income, and lower income population of Boston and its surrounding areas. The UMass Boston website states, “The University of Massachusetts Boston is a public research university with a dynamic culture of teaching and learning, and a special commitment to urban and global engagement.”

As part of its urban commitment, the website also states “We are proud to provide an excellent and accessible university education.” Even the 750 million (or more) dollar Master Plan asserts that UMass Boston’s “teaching research and service programs will serve the public.”

I want to focus on UMass Boston’s “special commitment to urban engagement.” This phrase, and the promise it implies of the provision of affordability, is what drew me to UMass Boston. I joined the university hoping that it would all continue to be committed to providing affordable education to urban students. After all, there is no better way to engage your city than to provide a quality, affordable education to urban students.

With numerous bumps in tuition taking place recently, UMass Boston could be accused of turning its back on its goal of affordability. It seems as though the entire UMass system, not just Boston, is attempting to maneuver its way into higher tiers of the public university system. However, in attempting to do so, UMass Boston is drifting away from at least one aspect of its mission: its commitment to urban students.

Is our university’s stalwart commitment to moving “…forward as the increasingly sophisticated research university that we are and continue to become.” pulling UMass Boston away from its roots as an affordable urban university? It’s sad to say, but I’m of the opinion that the future of urban education at UMass Boston might as well be strapped to an electric chair.

One sign of change is an annually recurring increase in fees. At the start of the 2011-2012 session there was a 9 percent increase in fees. At the start of the 2012-2013 session, there’s been another 4.5 percent increase in fees, coinciding with an overall decrease in the amount of financial aid award money. Thankfully, this session did not see another rise in tuition.

Every time the board votes to pump up the cost to students, I’m losing money. Eventually, I will be unable to afford an education, no matter how “sophisticated” or “evolved” that education is, at UMass Boston. What’s the point of creating an excellent university if your core demographic cannot afford it? 

UMass Boston is changing in an attempt to emulate and contend with the likes of Northeastern and Boston University, two schools with student bodies suggesting a commitment to the upper-middle class. By raising the price to pay for the new buildings, the university is reaching out to students who would normally choose to attend private schools.

According to a Boston.com article, Professor Rajini Srikanth, director of the UMass Boston honors program, said when speaking about the university’s goals, “An honors program signals an institution’s commitment to serving its best students and it holds up a pinnacle of excellence for every student to aspire to. We want those students who now would normally just go to a private school without even considering UMass Boston.’’

Another obvious sign that UMass Boston is changing is the construction of dorms. Plans are being set in motion to open two resident halls, with the first slew of beds scheduled to be available as soon as next year (2015). I genuinely believe that although the building of dorms has certain advantages and perks, it is yet another indication that Umass Boston has a new target demographic: middle class students.

In addition to all this, several new programs and facilities are springing up around campus. A brand new state-of-the-art science building is currently being constructed; other developments are in place as well, as is evidenced by the extreme lack of parking spaces all over campus. 

Don’t get me wrong, new and improved facilities will probably lead to an improved learning experience, but at what cost? According to Boston.com, sixty percent of the students surveyed by the university would like to have dorms on campus . It seems more and more like these proposed dorms are going to be inhabited by students who simply view the school as an option, students who simply don’t have the UMass Boston urban soul.

Meanwhile, students who have placed all their eggs in UMass Boston’s basket will be phased out.

A commitment was made to serve the hardworking urban person working two jobs and doubling as a full-time student. That commitment should be honored. A promise was made to serve us and our successors, and promises aren’t made to be broken.Description: https://mail.google.com/mail/images/cleardot.gif