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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

At the Board of Trustees Meeting: Staff Unions Protest and Talk of Student Debt

On September 16, the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees held its meeting at the Alumni Lounge of UMass Boston. Members of the Faculty and Professional Staff Union (FSU and PSU, respectively) used the meeting to give public comment on their displeasure with the recent financial decisions the Board has made. These decisions include a fee increase for students and a continued lack of settlement with Faculty and Staff over bonuses.
As members of the board and audience came into the meeting room, Union members and students lined the hallway holding signs that read, “Imagine a Debt Free College Education.” When the public meeting began, Union members and students lined the back of the room, still holding up their signs. The first person to speak for public comment was Marlene Kim, president of the FSU. She urged the board to “Keep the dream of college a reality. Let’s keep our mission.” In her address to the Board she also described students who were hungry, without heat, and without many resources because of the financial strain attending UMass Boston has put on them.
Following Ms. Kim was Tom Goodkind, president of PSU.  During his public comment he mentioned that: “Our campus Union does not support tuition and fee increases.” Goodkind also asserted he felt that the UMass system is slowly being privatized and that students are bearing the burden for the increased privatization. He also added that Board decisions have unfairly pitted the financial constraints of students against the financial needs of staff and faculty. Following Goodkind was undergraduate nursing student Jillian Brelsford who stated that: “We also believe that our Commonwealth’s future front-line healthcare professionals should be able to complete their studies without the burden of undue financial stressors and significant debt.”
In response to the public comment, Chairman Woolridge stated that the Board is concerned with student debt. He also added “The legislature plays a role in this too.” Voting student member and UMass Boston undergraduate Nolan O’Bryan made it clear that he is not in support of the tuition and fee increases. At one moment he spoke into the mic: “I am not happy about this, at all.”