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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

11/27/23 pdf
November 27, 2023

New UMass Boston Center Advocates for You

The Student Educational Research and Advocacy Center, or SERAC, operates for the purpose of ensuring that UMass Boston students have a political voice in the larger Massachusetts arena. The center’s director, Michael Herbert, makes it his daily job to “plug himself into state agencies” and speak with specific legislators who are stakeholders in the Boston community.

Through meetings with student government and informal discussions with students, SERAC gets the student take on the campus issues that are much debated. At statewide conferences, hearings and special meetings, the center acts as the voice of UMass Boston students. SERAC is a medium by which often-neglected student concerns are able to reach a higher platform and ignite public attention.

A topic of controversy between the UMass Boston student body and the administration is over residence halls. “The majority of students who I have spoken to want to see that option,” Herbert offered, as he spoke about the development of better ways to measure how students feel about dorms.

Until an assessment tool is developed and used, it is going to be difficult to discuss what the student perspective is with more consistency. Colleen McKiernan, Student Senate Chair of the Community Campus Affairs Committee, made it clear that people generally seem to know what the administration’s thoughts are on the matter, but “what about the students?”

Affordability is another topic, in which students seem to feel strongly. Although increases in parking costs, tuition and fees are all up for debate, McKiernan pointed to the fact that fees have been “raised a lot” in the past few years – “up by 60 percent” just between the 1999-2000 to the 2005-2006 school years. To SERAC, UMass Boston affordability is a major concern because the higher it costs to go here, the higher the institutional risk of quality students “pricing out” because they just cannot afford to pay these fees.

SERAC is also advocating for broader issues. They are working with the Public Higher Education Network, which operates at UMass Amherst, to discuss concerns such as University funding.

“There is no steady political component for student life,” Herbert said. Although his role as director is currently the only position for the project, both him and McKiernan see the potential for more in the future.

The Senate passed the proposal that created SERAC in October 2006. So far, the center has been focused on logistics and project set up. The 2006-2007 school year is considered the project’s pilot run. From there, it will be decided whether SERAC should remain a part of the university on a permanent basis.

SERAC wants UMass Boston students to know that they are here and ready to listen to the issues that you feel are important. For more information, contact McKiernan at Colleen.[email protected] or Herbert at [email protected].