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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMass Boston should get more credit for its efforts

Looking at the several constructions propping up around the university, I cannot help but ask, “What is University of Massachusetts Boston going for?”
While new buildings are a great idea, the burden on commuters — almost 90 percent of the school’s population — is greatly increased. Drivers now have to both park farther and walk farther. And while walking is not such an extraneous task, the late months of this winter have not been so kind to us.
Student drivers are not the only sufferers though; the shuttle buses now take longer to skirt around the road work and all the traffic on campus.
So what is the objective of all this construction? Some speculate that it’s simply just a beautification and space creation project, which is nice, seeing as the university (sans the Campus Center) currently looks like a ragtag collection of old factories.
However, the most probable long-term result of all the on campus construction projects are price and fee increases. Despite the university’s mission statement, which preaches precisely the opposite, many believe UMass Boston is becoming less affordable for the urban lower and middle class students.
For every hard working student holding down a job of some sort whilst putting themselves through university, every dollar increase makes it that much more difficult to attain a complete education. Most believe that the school is turning its back on its urban roots in order to chase a “wealthier” demographic of students and to project a more traditional university image.
In other words, UMass Boston is now trying to compete with the likes of Northeastern University, Boston University, Boston College, and their sister school, UMass Amherst.
As a working student myself, the idea that the university is weeding out students with price increases as to attract different clientele is very upsetting.
However, recent events have caused me to see it from a different perspective.
While having a discussion with some friends in Philadelphia, I was asked what school I attend.
I’ve never dreaded this question — I know picking UMass Boston was the right choice. Nonetheless, it’s never an easy one to answer. I was raised to believe that the top schools of Massachusetts, which incidentally are some of the best schools in the country, were my only choices. Nothing else was good enough.
UMass Boston is often looked down upon in Massachusetts since it is surrounded by some of the best educational institutions in the world. When members of your high school cohort who were fortunate enough to be able to attend the “elite” schools of Boston taunt schools like UMass Boston by looking down on its description as a commuter school with no dorms, you start to question the actual value of your education.
However, my revelation of what school I attended was received in a very different manner in Philadelphia. Responses to me being a UMass Boston student were more along the lines of, “Wow, good for you.”
The proximity to and intense competition with so many other top schools, has caused people in Massachusetts do devalue UMass Boston. Perhaps it does not have quite the same caliber of infrastructure and resources as the other universities in the Greater Boston area, but it more than makes up for that in other ways. UMass Boston has some of the best professors in the nation, with a huge majority being holders of Ivy League degrees.
Tuition, even though it’s on the rise, is still relatively affordable.
With that said, I believe that the tuition increase is just a cross we have to bear for now. It would not hurt to have kids living in affordable dorms on campus rather than the apartments at Harbor Point or Peninsula, or to have parents throw money at this school’s construction projects like at UMass Amherst.
Beautiful new buildings would not only be very practical but it would improve students’ morale. When this construction phase is over, we may well develop a different view of the university.
The school should be seen in the respected light it deserves.