UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

UMass Boston Student Speaks at Bernie Sanders’ Visit to Boston


UMass Boston nursing student Jillian Breslford gave a speech about student debt at the Bernie Sanders rally in Boston on Oct. 3.

On October 3rd, Bernie Sanders visited Boston as part of his presidential campaign. Around 26,000 people, including University of Massachusetts Boston students were able to attend the rally at the Boston Convention Center which was at full capacity.

In his speech to the crowd, Bernie Sanders addressed several of his main campaign topics, such as plans to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour and counter the mass incarceration of African Americans, as well as warning of the dangers of Super PACs. Furthermore, he spoke about his support for introducing tuition-free colleges to the American educational system.

On that topic, UMass Boston nursing student Jillian Breslford talked about the issues of modern day student debt, and the consequences it has on the lives of young people. In a statement for The Mass Media, Breslford explained that, although this topic is mentioned in the various presidential campaigns, it does not receive an adequate media coverage. She also explained that she is aware that it is not for the president alone to resolve this issue. Rather, as she suggests, “We need to organize our campuses and communities to shift the balance of power between us, and our administrators; the state legislature, and the millionaires in Massachusetts.”

It is well known that Bernie Sanders strongly encourages the idea of making all public colleges and universities tuition-free. Furthermore, Sanders states on his official campaign website that his plan is to “eliminate the federal ‘profit’ from student debt and allow students to refinance at significantly more favorable rates.”

To visualize the life-changing advantages this plan would bring, Breslford mentioned at the rally that she herself is in a high amount of debt. Therefore, Sanders’ plan would make it possible for her and other students in the same position to graduate without the heavy weight of student debt. As she states in the interview with The Mass Media, “Leaders like Sanders are an inspiration and a rallying point for the work we need to do ourselves.”

According to the “Project on Student Debt” at The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS), the average student graduates with a total debt of $26,000. However, what many experts find truly alarming is that the federal student loan debt is gradually increasing and has exceeded the $1 trillion. A Forbes article also stated that many students are often not able to pay back their loan right after graduating because they have trouble finding employment. Then, due to interest rates and increasing tuition fees, their debt builds up even more. Also UMass Boston has raised their fees by 8% this year.

There are many groups and projects that are actively working towards raising funds for public education. For example, projects such as the  “Fair Share Amendment” are calling for more financial support for public education and are collecting signatures to close a tax loophole that allows companies to avoid taxation, as well as raising taxes for the top earners of the nation.

As Breslford points out, “Our democracy begins with education for all. The cost of education will continue to rise if we don’t stop it. This is definitely a fight for the future of our country.”