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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMASS Students Fight Rising Costs of Higher Education

Massachusetts Students Uniting (MSU) brought together students, faculty, and staff at UMB to fight for affordability and access to higher education in Massachusetts. On Wednesday, December 9, from 3:30 to 5pm in the UMB game room, members of UMB will be voicing concern and opening a dialogue on combating the rising price of higher ed.

In the past 30 years, Massachusetts has seen decreasing funds in state colleges and universities. In the last 5 years alone, state appropriations have decreased by 14%. Only 6 other states have higher fees in public higher education schools than Massachusetts. The past year has been especially tragic, where it marked the first time in Massachusetts history that students paid as much as the state for their education.

As far as keeping public higher education affordable, an alarming trend has been developing.

Christopher Pond, President of MSU at UMB, has been carefully watching the growing problem and shifted his energies outside of class and work to address these problems facing students.

“We want to hold administration and trustees accountable but we know the real problem lies on Beacon Hill. We want to channel our voices with students, faculty, and staff all across the state to reinvestment in Massachusetts public higher ed,” he said.

With the recent crisis of the economy, UMB has faced hard choices. Last year Governor Deval Patrick allocated some of President Obama’s stimulus money towards public higher education, which helped fill in some of the gaps, and froze the fee hikes.

However, the holes still exist and there are no more stimulus funds.

Moving into next semester, the work the MSU plans on finding solutions to this ongoing problem.

At the teach-in, MSU will discuss alternatives to fee hikes. Budget cuts, however, affect faculty programs, classroom sizes and student activity money, to list a few.

All UMB students are welcome to attend the teach-in.

The purpose of the teach-in is to bring together members of UMB to talk about these issues, and create solidarity. The agenda makes room for sharing stories on how fee hikes and cuts affect members at UMB, and includes a discussion of how to stop this in the future.

Says Pond on the teach-in, “We want to harness the anger and energy of frustration of students and other folks her at UMB, and focus that in the right direction.”

Pond notes that MSU recognizes the financial crisis, however, notes that higher education should be a priority in Massachusetts.

“Boston is the academic capital in the world.” Yet, in supporting public higher education, “the numbers say different,” he said.

The numbers also show that there is an economic incentive to invest.

$1 in direct state investment in UMASS schools generates more than $8 in economic activity. For every 100 UMASS jobs, over 90 additional private jobs are created.

MSU is a growing state wide student association that advocates for affordability and access to higher ed. Their goal is to make sure the state truly provides affordability to higher ed.

Issues worked on include (but not limited to) fighting fee hikes, pressuring for state based financial aid, and fighting for legislation for children of undocumented citizens to have access to higher ed.

MSU evolved from PHENON, (Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts). MSU, however, it is student based. It has one common interest that developed in response to the trend to disinvestment in higher education in Massachusetts.