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75 Protestors Spent Two and a Half Hours Inside the Massachusetts State House

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Occupy UMass Boston participated in a nationwide protest for publicly funded higher education on March 1. In Boston, an estimated 75 protestors spent two and a half hours inside the Massachusetts State House before briefly taking to the streets. About 20 of the demonstrators were UMass Boston students, joining students from Northeastern University, Tufts University and Bunker Hill Community College.

Similar demonstrations were held across the nation, with University of California campuses showing the greatest turnout.

Stephanie Fail, UMass Boston anthropology major and occupier, was present at the event. “We were coming out in support of students’ rights and increased public funding for all education,” Fail said. She described the protest as “the first of many steps we will take to strengthen the political voice of students in the legislature.”

The Undergraduate Student Government (USG) was not a part of this protest, although it has been supportive of the national Occupy movements in the past. USG President Travis Henderson participated in the Oct. 8 protest, at which 15 UMass Boston students were arrested.

Dan McDowell, USG vice president, explained the absence: “We were not given much notice of the event,” but added, “We are focused on March 8, [when] we will be participating in a statewide lobbying day.”

On March 8, representatives from the USG will join lobbying groups like the Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts (PHENOM) and the Student Advisory Council, as well as union representatives and concerned citizens, in a meeting with legislators to stress the importance of public funding for higher education.

According to Fail, the Occupy UMass Boston group is also planning to have representation at the statewide lobbying day.

McDowell expects hundreds of people to be at the State House then, including student groups from all the UMass campuses.