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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Chancellor’s inauguration cost $130,000–and they just raised your tuition

Students+protest+at+the+chancellor%E2%80%99s+inauguration.+Photo+submitted+by+protester.
Students protest at the chancellor’s inauguration. Photo submitted by protester.

Here’s where your tuition goes: Chancellor Marcelo Suárez-Orozco’s inauguration on Friday, April 5. According to an invoice found, it cost approximately $127,942.69. Besides the $54,363.86 charge for rented decorations, $4,500 of that was spent on lights for the donor’s dinner the night before, and another $1,202 went to an “inauguration dinner” that Chancellor Suárez-Orozco attended with 10 of his guests. His guests ordered lamb lollipops, filet mignon, and $200 worth of alcohol—all paid for by the university.  

Chancellor Suárez-Orozco’s salary, along with every other UMass administrator, is legally required to be public information. According to GovSalaries, his salary was $601,583 in 2023. That’s 1,311 percent higher than the median salary in the UMass system, and 19 percent higher than other chancellors’ salaries in Massachusetts [1].

Meanwhile, the Board of Trustees for the UMass system raised UMass Boston’s tuition by 2.5 percent for in-state students and 3 percent for out-of-state and graduate students [2]. The message is clear—UMass only sees its students as a source of revenue. 

In UMass Boston’s FY2024-2025 budget, they list some ways they plan to ensure revenue increases for the next year: “The campus continues to develop supports for students to understand and plan for the cost of college. These efforts should increase retention by reducing the need to stop-out for financial reasons and reduce the number of students with delinquent account balances.”  

They’re not even putting any of these extra funds toward supporting students during a cost-of-living crisis; they’re putting funds toward preparing students for the inevitability of student debt. In fact, nowhere in the budget document is a mention of students as anything more than money. 

UMass Boston claims that it also is increasing student aid and tuition discounting to offset the increase in tuition. Of course, if they did that, they wouldn’t be making any money. These discounts offset less than half of the tuition raises, and the university doesn’t plan to spend any more on scholarships and fellowships than previous years. 

UMass Boston was already planning on an increase in “revenue” from increases to out-of-state enrollment rates, as well as money from selling property for the new Dorchester Bay City project [3]. Besides the fact that UMass Boston has been working with a surplus for several years—according to the budget document, the UMass system is requiring that all its universities operate with a 2% operating margin.  

Mark Murdy, a graduate student at UMass Amherst and a student voter on the Board of Trustees, raised an excellent point: When the UMass system is so consistently underfunded, then why won’t its leadership push for more state support?  

As he told the Daily Hampshire Gazette, “If the university desires more revenue, they can find it in public funding…UMass can push for the Debt-Free Future Act and the Cherish Act, two bills before the State House that could fully fund the UMass system. We could then invest in our student body and reverse years of financial strife.” 

It’s unacceptable that the university’s expenses, especially superfluous ones like the Chancellor’s inauguration and bloated salary, are being passed on to students. The point of a university is to care for its students and provide them with an education; no one should have to go into tens of thousands of dollars of debt to go to even a public university. Change at every level is necessary now, before thousands more students are closed out of higher education for good. 

 

SOURCES: 

[1] https://govsalaries.com/suarez-orozco-marcelo-165126009  

[2] https://www.umb.edu/media/umassboston/content-assets/budget/operating-budget/FY24-Operating-Budget-Narrative-FINAL.pdf  

[3] https://www.boston.com/news/the-boston-globe/2023/09/15/massive-dorchester-bay-city-project-gets-green-light-from-bpda/ 

About the Contributor
Elijah Horwath, Opinions Editor