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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

An Interview with Our Student Trustee, Gray Milkowski

Recently, I was afforded the opportunity to sit down for a one-on-one interview with our Student Trustee, Gray Milkowski.
As Gray is now in the home stretch of his term, he reflected on the things he has accomplished during his tenure, as well as challenges he faced.
This past year has been a turbulent one for UMass Boston. As the voice for all students on campus, Gray has tried to view everything through the lens of whether it would be beneficial to our student body.
In this interview, I asked Gray his opinion on campus issues, as well as what he hopes for UMass Boston as we finally start to see the light at the end of the tunnel with all this construction.
MM: What does your position as Student Trustee entail?
GM: The Student Trustee position is one that exists at all the UMass campuses. It is an elected position by the entire undergraduate and graduate student body, and the responsibilities are to sit on the board of trustees for the UMass System, which is a 22-member board that acts in a legislative way for the University. We work on big things like Title IX policy, code of conduct, approving new academic programs. My role is to give perspective on how certain decisions might affect students. Basically, I get to give my opinion on whether something is good or bad for the UMass Boston student population.
MM: What are some of the more controversial issues you have had to deal with as student trustee?
GM: Parking, as of late. Parking is a huge one. The fees just went up, so obviously, people come and express their complaints, and rightly so. We are a working class, commuter school. I know a lot of students with kids, and even I work 30-40 hours a week myself so I know how tough it is. A lot of students have jobs, and need time to sleep, so that means that not all your time is going to working, and you’re a full-time student. We are increasing fees on a community that can’t afford it. That is one huge issue, but Bayside is another one. I’m not really involved in that one, but I think it should be a bigger issue. UMass Boston has the biggest piece of property left on the Boston Waterfront. It’s up for sale, it’s been quoted as being worth 200 million dollars by industry experts. It’s gone back and forth from the idea of building a soccer stadium, which I’m happy didn’t happen. I think it would have been a really bad thing for the community. I think you could use that land to expand the university. I also deal with tuition, which rose. The President’s Office projects it to rise at a steady rate for the next few years—another big issue for working students. So, I try to speak to students about their concerns, as well as convey those to the board. I also listen to student issues such as when courses get cancelled. Other than that, though, I spend a lot of time talking to students about where their tuition goes and breaking that all down. I like being that resource for students, and it’s fun meeting new people.
MM: Ok great. Now my last question, it has been tough to get students involved with political issues on campus. What are some things you would like to tell students to get them more enthusiastic about issues facing their campus?
GM: I think it’s a case of “if you understand, you care.” So, if somebody understands an issue, they’re more equipped to see the flaw and calling the issue what it is, rather than just complaining about it. So, instead of just saying “Why can’t I park?” they will understand what the issue actually is. Then, you can get people to be active in the school, and our school has a huge history of activism. It has gone away, which is understandable because people have jobs and lives, but I’d love for people to understand the issue. Come out to town halls, write for the paper, because that’s what the decision makers see. We had an unsuccessful town hall on Feb. 15, and if it were filled with people upset about parking and talking about parking, it would make a difference. Student Affairs was there, and if anyone from that office saw all those students upset, it would have made a bigger impact on administration regarding something like the parking rate controversy, but nobody showed up so that impact isn’t there. It’s disappointing to me that involvement has not reached its full potential on campus. Doing something other than classes would be a great way to help be engaged on campus. Join a club, start a club, and get involved. Hopefully, the residence halls will increase campus involvement.
MM: Alright, well that’s all I have Gray. Thank you for sitting down with me.
GM: No, thank you. Anytime.