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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Freezing of UMB ISO’s Funds by USG “Part of A Pattern Of Harassment”

The+ISO+is+unhappy+with+the+ruling+of+the+Undergraduate+Student+Government
The ISO is unhappy with the ruling of the Undergraduate Student Government

 

 

“This is not about ethics, it’s about policy.”

That’s what the student government told the UMB International Socialist Organization in a hearing regarding our club funds being frozen. This is an alarming statement in many regards—do we really want our next generation of politicians and leaders defending broken policies against ethical arguments?

A university should be a place to learn, inside and outside of the classroom. It should have an environment that fosters critical thinking and encourages student engagement in politics.

Rhetorically, there is an apparent consensus among the campus community that this is the way things should be.

The UMass Boston website states: “The University of Massachusetts Boston is an educational institution dedicated to rigorous, open, critical inquiry—a gateway to intellectual discovery in all branches of knowledge… Our campus culture fosters imagination, creativity, and intellectual vitality… we expect and welcome divergent views, honoring our shared commitment to expanding, creating, and disseminating knowledge.”

But as students in the International Socialist Organization, bureaucratic obstacles—which show deep contradictions between the universities policies and stated mission—have been thrown at us. We have been charged with “mismanagement of funds” and “posting violations” resulting in our funds being frozen and confiscated from November until the end of the semester.

At a time when the Board of Trustees and the administration are working in tandem to increase student fees, ignore mounting student debt, and make education less and less accessible, it is ridiculous that bureaucracy is being prioritized over the student community.

This situation brings to light a stark contrast between policy and rhetoric on campus. We are not the only group to have noticed this or to be dealt bureaucratic obstacles. A posting policy that only allows 55 flyers to be posted in limited designated space makes it incredibly challenging to publicize events on campus.

The funding system demands a student club to plan an entire semester’s schedule to exact details even before the semester starts. For a group like the ISO, which deals with ever-changing current events, this prohibits us from playing a dynamic role in responding to something we didn’t plan for three months in advance.

Why were we charged with “mismanaging” our funds? With a serious charge like that, one might think we were caught illegally embezzling money. Not so, in fact. According to USG, we wasted our club funds printing up flyers that would be later thrown away under those same restrictive poster policies. We were left in the dark about this charge until a November 28 appeals hearing, in an e-mail sent by the SEOC chair to the USG Chief Justice.This occurred almost a full month after we were charged, and two weeks after the initial hearing in which our funding was frozen. To be denied knowledge of the charges we are facing until after a decision has been made is to deny us due process and an opportunity to adequately defend ourselves.

The heavy-handed approach by USG is disconcerting, but it is not separate from the broader politics involved. This recent incident has been part of a pattern of increased harassment over the last two semesters, semesters where we have been involved in publicizing and challenging the administration’s fee hikes and parking fare increases.

The future of this university as a school for the ninety-nine percent depends on a vibrant culture of free speech and dissent—both against plans to price students out and in support of all kinds of student engagement.

The UMB ISO has shown commitment to encouraging student engagement, building a stronger student community, activism, and promoting the free flow of ideas, critical thought and discussion. We seek not to focus on the past but look to a more collaborative future. We call on the USG to be proactive and join us in creating policies that don’t punish student empowerment and community, but encourage it.