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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMB Administration’s Must Lead by Example

If UMass Boston’s goal is to promote success thereby molding future leaders, UMB has a responsibility to its students to lead by example. Encouraging others to pursue leadership initiatives requires that university administration consider how their own practices influence the impressions and ultimately the success of their students.

Umass Boston is a publicly owned university, funded by our tax dollars. UMass Boston, in fact, is the only publicly owned university in Boston. This is a unique circumstance, an opportunity to stand out in the collegiate community as the potential model for public universities nationwide. This unique circumstance demands a didactic relationship between administration and students to more deeply involve students in decisions that affect them academically and financially.

Recently UMB has undertaken several initiatives to improve the campus. However, some of these initiatives have confused students as to administration’s priorities and caused them to question administration’s responsibility to lead by example. For instance, the construction of the new $80M campus center as well as recent proposals to raise UMB’s budget to build dormitories seem misguided in light of the immediate need for repairs on the neglected parking garage. The necessity for repairs on the garage has become not only a pressing issue of safety, but ultimately one of increased financial burden on students, faculty, and staff that requires, if not precedence before any other projects are undertaken, at least an explanation for the seemingly incongruous policy to expand a campus before maintaining it.

UMB has recently taken conservation measures to use less water and improve energy efficiency. However, currently unable to fund proper repair of the campus water filtration system, UMB has substituted a temporary water decontamination process whereby 2 million gallons of unused drinking water, (over $15,000 worth) have been dumped into the sewer since February, and which continue to flow at a rate of over 6,000 gallons per day.

With the arrival of Chancellor Gora, UMB has seen substantial investment to revamp the university’s appearance. Wheatley Hall was repainted last summer. Potholes in the garage as well as the cracked and broken cement blocks that compose the outdoor walkways have been repaired, while a new parking lot has been paved adjacent to the old north lot. Sculptures have been rearranged and new ones have been brought in which have provided the campus a fresh artistic element. Yet while these aesthetic improvements have been funded, UMB’s administration claims the university must increase parking fees because they lack funding to do repairs.

Such inconsistencies force us to reassess administration’s priority to the students and overshadow the positive initiatives they have undertaken to improve UMB. It is this issue that must be engaged further by UMB students, faculty and staff. It is now that increased discourse concerning these issues can evoke constructive, positive alternatives to current policy. For example, concerning the parking garage dilemma, fees will increase to $5 a day beginning January 1st. Since it is administration’s position that the fees must be increased, perhaps they could subsidize better deals on T-passes, (currently only 11%) to promote public transportation as a viable alternative to those drivers that cannot afford the increased financial burden.

UMB has the opportunity to set a precedent as a premiere public university by making responsible, consistent administrative decisions, and by encouraging student engagement in university politics and initiatives. Student considerations and opinions must be emphasized, as maximizing student potential is as large an investment to the university and the future of our country as the investment students make in UMB to enhance their future career success.

Erik Foley

CAS 2002