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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMass Boston can do more for its immediate community

Photo+by+Junhao+Yu

Photo by Junhao Yu

“Be the change you want to see in the world”: a quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi and embodied by many University of Massachusetts Boston students. This campus is genuinely concerned with assuaging some of the world’s problems. Many clubs and organizations work tirelessly on social issues like hunger, war, socio-economic inequality and sexism. These problems are real and big, which makes it difficult for people to see the change they want. However, if that activist energy is focused on a local issue, on solving a small part of the larger problem, the change is much easier to see.

It will not be long before “commuter school” will no longer describe UMass Boston. It may be easy to feel isolated from our host city out here on the peninsula, but we are part of the Dorchester community. As UMass Boston grows and residency becomes commonplace for its students, that geographic fact will become more difficult to overlook.

The city we inhabit for at least a few hours each day is in flux. It is diverse and dynamic and troubled. There are many residents committed to improving the community. The city is receiving significant attention from the mayor’s office and it seems like a unique time for community action in terms of support from the local government. The UMass Boston community should take advantage of this and join residents in their grassroots efforts to make the city we are all a part of a better place to live.

This is not to say that UMass Boston totally ignores Dorchester. But our approach to dealing with community issues is too macro, which is causing us to miss opportunities for easily recognizable positive change. For example, public spaces in the city—parks and playgrounds—could be used to host events. Hosting a movie day or organizing volunteer clean-up efforts in area parks is a way of using positive activity to push out negative activity. This changes the perception of the area and engenders more positive activity and a greater feeling of safety.  

This type of change is easily recognizable and feels more personal. And really, we should begin to feel more responsibility for the city—not merely as neighbors but as members. We should care about it as if we live here and get involved in the same projects as people who do live here.

There are resident’s committees like the Codman Square Neighborhood Council pushing for everything from reduced violence to green building. We can address all of our pet passions by partnering with these community organizations. Our energy for this type of activity is amazing, and if we focused that energy on local issues it would be much easier to see how massive a force of positive change we are.