Rally on the UMB Campus


J.P. Goodwin

Billed as a warm-up rally, students, staff and faculty gathered on the plaza between McCormack and Wheatley on April 24 with the goal of motivating participation in the “Save UMass Rally” scheduled for the following day at the Statehouse. “We wanted to pump people up,” declared one of the organizers.

The forty-five minute demonstration featured speakers from throughout the UMB community. Campus unions organized the logistics for the event. The Student Senate kicked-in $2,000 for free pizza – which appeared to be a significant drawing card for the lunch-time crowd.

CPCS professor Ann Withorn, who emceed the event, opened the proceedings by introducing Chancellor Jo Ann Gora, who drew a mixed reaction from the crowd estimated at between 200 and 300 hundred.

“I know these are difficult times,” began Gora, who went on to explain that “In the 21st century economy, eighty-five percent of jobs are going to require a college degree.” The chancellor, who spoke for about five minutes, emphasized the role that UMass alumni play in the growth and development of the state. “This is what will impress them [the legislature], tell them you want to stay here,” she declared, noting that “seventy-five percent of UMass Boston graduates live and work in Massachusetts.”

“Don’t tell them our flaws,” Gora said, “Tell me the flaws.” She concluded by echoing a statement released by UMass President William Bulger earlier in the week- “Be purposeful. Be respectful. Be persuasive.”

Next up was Katie Frazier, representing the UMB Women’s Center and the Feminist Majority, who stressed the importance of forming alliances within the entire UMB community. “Take a few minutes and build alliances to fight these cuts,” stated Frazier.

Elizabeth Mock, president of Faculty Staff Union and UMass Boston librarian, detailed the impact that budget cuts have already had on the university’s library. “The library’s materials budget has already been cut seventy-five percent. You cannot have a strong university without a strong library,” declared Mock.

“A thousand dollar fee increase could be a two thousand dollar fee increase in the next ten years,” offered the next speaker, Richie Zamor from the Black Student Center. “We have a right to an affordable education in order to secure our goals,” he added.

Self-described “resident trouble maker” Dianne Dujon, drew the loudest reaction from the crowd when she stated, “Don’t let them scare you and say there’s no money. They always say there’s no money.” Dujon’s references to the funding issues facing the Early Learning Center and “..the 61 beautiful children who are not going to have daycare if we don’t stop this now,” drew a loud chorus of boos.

UMB philosophy professor Gary Zabel contrasted and challenged Chancellor Gora’s position. “The administration isn’t going to fight the budget cuts, we’re going to fight the budget cuts,” and stated that the administration was “under a gag order from President Bulger” and that they were attempting to deal with the budget crises by exploiting labor.

“Social change happens when you don’t behave yourself,” Zabel told the crowd, and later said “Don’t behave yourselves tomorrow.”