70°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Editorial: Poor Mind-Reading Places Early Learning Center Under the Axe

Due to recent budget cuts, Chancellor Gora has announced that all food and beverage service will be cut from the cafeterias, effective immediately. So if you should feel a hunger coming on, you’ll need to travel off campus to eat. Yes, the chancellor recognizes this new arrangement may cause some inconvenience to students in terms of time and money, but the chancellor admits that, since arriving in fall 2001, she has never seen a cafeteria at UMass Boston, and therefore does not see the need for the cafeterias’ continued existence on this campus.

No, Chancellor Gora has not cancelled the cafeteria service in light of budget cuts. However, another program has fallen under the brooding axe of budget cuts – the Early Learning Center (ELC).

ELC is as essential a service to 22 current UMass students and nine UMB staff as food service is to the student body. Despite the $10,000 Chancellor Gora spent on new, plush office furniture, she has indeed seen the inside of several UMB cafeterias, though she herself admits she has never seen the ELC: “I haven’t gotten to it just because I’m doing a lot of other things.” Apparently the re-bricking of an entrance sign, the rearranging of sculptures, and the implementation of a committee to find out just who and what is expendable at this university have taken up all the chancellor’s time. Cutting the ELC, like cutting off food to 13,000 students, would be nothing short of cutting a lifeline.

The Early Learning Center has served the local community, namely UMB students attending school full-time while trying to raise a child, with a safe, supportive, and educational day-care center for their children for the last 20 years. Located at 2 Harbor Point Blvd. (that’s for you, chancellor), the ELC was ordered to become “self-sufficient” by July 2003. All $250,000 of annual funding for the center has been cut off entirely, effective June 30, which will result in the lay-offs of at least four teachers, one who has been with the program for 14 years. If by the July deadline the center, with no further funding from UMB, is not self-supporting, according to Dean Janey, “it will be phased out.”

For the student-parents who use the ELC, it is a resource that simply stated, is the only aid that enables them to pursue a higher education. As one student, a 21-year-old single mother on welfare in 1999 when she first entered the ELC puts it: “The ELC has become my family…They have helped me accomplish my dreams. I am off welfare for over a year, I am a junior in college with an A-average, I have my own apartment and my own car…I don’t know where I would be without my center and my family.”

Yet the chancellor has been non-responsive to such appeals. When a campus protest of about twenty concerned parents from the program, accompanied by their children, convened outside the chancellor’s office on April 25 to seek audience with the chancellor, she quickly brushed past them into her office, shut the door, and called Campus Safety who promptly told the protesters they would be arrested and insinuated that their children would be placed in the hands of DSS if they did not disperse. Before speaking at the rally at UMB to “Save UMass” the chancellor admits she was approached by two concerned parents, but, by her own admission, she was not responsive: “If I had realized what was in their head, then I would’ve spent more time talking to them.”

Alas! Finally an answer: it is due strictly to a lack of Chancellor Gora’s clairvoyant powers that she has been systematically ignoring all appeals concerning current management of the university.

Yes, it is nonsense. But it’s the nearest to an explanation concerning the chancellor’s poor funding decisions that has yet been offered.