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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

A Positive Example of Leadership – Editorial 2/19/04

This week we want to show support for a positive development in UMB student politics. On Wednesday, February 11 the UMB Solidarity Network hosted a very successful meeting of more than a dozen student groups and centers in the Ryan Lounge. Never in recent memory have so many different student groups been in the same room at the same time.

Last semester, a group of students and professors organized a meeting called “Connect the Dots,” which attempted to draw a line between corporate globalization and recent budget cuts in public higher education. This meeting spurred the formation of a circle of student leaders bent on creating an organization capable of strengthening unity on campus as a step toward preparing students to challenge the rising costs and declining services at UMass; this is the UMB Solidarity Network.

At this stage, the network has demonstrated that it can weld together different campus groups, an important first step if they are motivated to fight budget cuts. UMass is a very diverse campus reflecting the makeup of the entire greater Boston area to a certain degree, but diversity can be a double-edged sword. A diverse campus provides us with the ability to share many distinct experiences. But the differences that enrich our community can also divide it when we are forced fight for fewer crumbs. Budget cuts often lead to competition between different groups for reduced resources. For this reason, it is a great success for the network to get students and groups unified around a common goal of defeating budget cuts.

But the student leaders in the network have more work to do. The obstacles ahead will test the tenuous unity they have established. The budget cuts to UMass were part of $2 billion in cuts stemming from what Governor Romney called the worst state budget crisis since the Great Depression. The network should bring together students and groups to decide on a compelling message to send to voters and politicians alike about why rising costs in education are bad for Massachusetts as a whole.

The emergence of the UMB Solidarity Network is a step in the direction of a healthier student leadership. We hope the network continues to engage a broad spectrum of students and groups, giving our student leadership a leg to stand on in the face of budget cuts. If the UMB Solidarity Network can follow up on its initial success, the unified front it presents will put the community in a position of greater strength to fight for nothing less than what we deserve – a decent and affordable higher education system.