73°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Dateline: Downtown

“What Do We Want? Who Knows? When Do We Want It? NOW!”

I generally cast a fish eye toward demonstrations, find them a generally ineffective means of enacting social change outside perhaps making the world a bit of a noisier place. Think about it: when is the last time a demonstration changed anything? They’re essentially self-aggrandizing gestures: see how many people we can group into a mass, and how loud they can yell. No decision maker that I’m aware of has changed policy simply due to how many people are holding signs outside the office.”…But these people have their chants syncopated, Boss!””You’re right, We’d better reconsider our entire project.”It just doesn’t happen. The only thing that gets accomplished is that maybe an ego or two gets cuddled, and maybe some people get rained on when otherwise they’d be inside attending class or working. So I didn’t really stop on April 1st for the “March for UMass Boston Students’ Rights!” It doesn’t mean I didn’t consider their points, just that I didn’t see the effectiveness in hanging around and chanting with them. Let’s explore these points, culled from an email I received the night before the rally. I feel that each of them independently merit consideration:

* No Transparency or Accountability in Use of Student Fees If you enter the school’s website and go to the Bursar’s Office section, it provides an extensive breakdown of what the fees are that we pay each semester, but little about how they are dispersed. Short of heading to the Office itself and requesting an account of expenditures, how are we to know whether our fees are being used in an effective and useful manner? This is Massachusetts, remember; one has to assume public money is being misspent until it is proven otherwise. And if the email’s claim that student fees have doubled since 2002 is true, one must wonder why that is.

* No Autonomy For the Student GovernmentThe argument for an independent student government to my mind is that no administration, no matter how sensitive it is, can have the same perspective on what is important to the student body as the students themselves. The problem is that even granting complete independence to the Senate can only do so much. Short of granting it the ability to pass binding legislation, all it can really do is suggest directions for the Chancellor and the Provost to take. So I’m not entirely sure what this “autonomy” means. To my understanding, the Senate mostly sees to things like how student activity funds are disbursed. Does autonomy mean “less oversight”?

* Student Spaces Taken AwayThis might be one way in which “autonomy” can be exercised. After the mess last semester involving Casa Latina and the other student groups, maybe it would be nice if Student Affairs weren’t making decisions so unilaterally. Someone somewhere is going to want to yell at me for saying this, but I don’t care. Someone from one of the student groups yelled at me a few months ago for suggesting that maybe SA was working under considerations the student groups hadn’t considered. But recently, when a Professor suggested I opine about the closing of the Wit’s End café, I started thinking differently. The Wit’s End is a complex issue: the coffee was terrible. The space, however, was wonderful. And when it was closed, where did the student jobs go? It is rather difficult to land a job on-campus, and this ties into the complaint.

* Censorship of Student-run EventsI’m assuming this refers to the Annie Sprinkle controversy-in-a-box at the Harbor Arts Gallery. My take here is that a school should have an art gallery if and only if it is granted full decision-making power in what it chooses to run. Otherwise, it’s just going to be full of boring junk. Administrators should administrate, not make aesthetic or moralistic judgments. Executive decisions should perhaps be signed off on by Student Affairs, but short of work that is baldly offensive to the huge majority of reasonable people, nothing should be nixed for any reason, saving public safety.

* Inadequate Handicap AccessibilityYeah. I’m able-bodied, and even I have trouble with the doors to the Campus Center. Sheesh.Anyway, it took precisely one Campus Police officer to break the April 1st rally up. No firehoses. The point, it seems, wasn’t necessarily to voice outrage. Things, after all, aren’t that bad here. And it’s precisely that not that bad-ness that probably keeps people from engaging in the political process of the school, among other things. All the 70 or so assembled students wanted was to bring attention to a few salient points. In this, I suppose, they succeeded, in that Chancellor Motley extended an invitation to meet with people to listen to their concerns. But he already has open office hours. The same message could have been relayed with less expenditure of time and energy. But that’s just what I think: “I ain’t talkin’, I’m just sayin’.”

ADDENDA: Tenured CPCS faculty have formally asked Dean Adrenele Awotona to step down. Look for a full news piece in next week’s issue. Can’t say much about it right now, story still developing… Congratulations to our Amherst counterparts, whose basketball five advanced to the NIT finals before being taken out by Ohio State 92 – 85… It’s Spring! A’ight… From the Chancellor, this seems important, so I thought I’d reprint. “Signups on the Campus Center Terrace will continue next week at the following times: Tuesday, April 8, from 11am to 3pm; Wednesday, April 9, from 12 to 4pm, and Thursday, April 10, from 3 to 6pm. If you prefer to register from home, just visit http://alert.umb.edu and enter your information. For more information about the system, visit http://safety.umb.edu, our new safety web site.”

About the Contributor
Michael Hogan served as the following positions at The Mass Media for the following years: Editor-in-Chief: Spring 2008; Fall 2008 Arts Editor: Spring 2007; Fall 2007