An Open Letter to Deval

Stephanie Fail

Dear Governor Patrick,

It is my duty as an engaged citizen in this commonwealth to stand for what I believe in. At the beginning of your term as governor, one of your many pledges was to make higher education more affordable for all. As governor, you are entrusted with the power to choose 17 of the 19 trustees for one of the heaviest expenses within your economy- the University of Massachusetts. Over the past 3 years my fellow students and I at UMass Boston have greatly appreciated the 16.6 percent increase in our university’s funding. Due to falling tax revenues from the economic crunch, the whole UMass system will be short 102 million of state money- almost as much as the 109 million budget of state funds for UMB. The stimulus plan from President Obama designated 1 billion in emergency funds for public education. This money is intended for both K-12 students and higher ed. This injection of federal money can potentially buffer the majority of cuts coming. However, the final amount and distribution of these funds will not be clear until late spring or early summer. In response to this year’s cut- UMass President Wilson and the Board of Trustees elected to raise our student fees $1,500 per student. Though 28% of the money raised from the fees will be sent directly to financial aid, there are many students on this campus who do not qualify for these funds due to the financial or immigration status of their parents. The assumption that all students whom are under 24 have access to their parent’s pocketbooks is blind! There are many independent students struggling at UMB to balance full time jobs with a full time education. In this state we have one of the highest per capita income in the country, yet rank 48th in the nation for funding of higher education. Does that seem proportional? I understand we have to not irck the many private institutions within this state, but UMass fills a much needed niche by allowing people whom would not normally be able to attend school to go. Most of us wouldn’t be in school if there wasn’t UMass. These fees are going to push a multitude of students whom are barely making it right off the campus. Keeping the tuition and fees low is the only way to reach students whom are not reached by adequate financial aid. However, the relative cost of attending UMass has nearly doubled in the last ten years. The ones whom cannot afford this are being squeezed out of an education. Without a bachelors degree, it is increasingly impossible to survive in this competative world.

There is a serious problem with a society whom values its military more than its minds. Fot if we become a nation of ignorant people, we are going to keep causing discord in this fragile world, and thus need more war! If countries much poorer than us can afford to subsidize the cost of their youth’s higher education, why are the youth of this wealthy one not a priority? We the students are uniting all over the country to be our own biggest lobbyists on the state and federal levels. Our education should not rely on casino funding, or cigarette taxes, or whatever vice we consider it morally right to tax this month, but instead we feel it is our right as the future leaders of this country to have our education subsized instead of sold to Sally Mae for profit. Our education deserves a serious increase in federal funding, and considering we poured over 14 billion into the bottomless dig- a mere billion from the White House at a time where not even the school bus is free anymore is a slap in the face. Governor Patrick, I implore you to stand with the students of Massachusetts as we take this struggle for our right to an affordable education into the legislature of the state and country.

Sincerely,Stephanie Fail