Future is Not for Sale
On Feb. 26,
2003, Gov. Mitt Romney announced a plan to introduce massive cuts
to public higher education, which many critics say would essentially
dismember the system.
Gov. Mitt Romney plans to fix the budget through massive
cuts which will significantly affect public higher education.
UMass Boston alone could lose $11 million next year
because of the projected cuts.
has said he proposed the cuts in order to ease the budget deficit,
saying that public institutions of higher learning have a spending
But according to Our
Future is Not for Sale, a campaign to stop the cuts, the governor's
plan "would privatize some campuses, eliminate others, slash
the state appropriation, and raise tuition and fees to heights that
most working class families can't afford."
Five thousand students,
faculty members and administrators from public colleges across Massachusetts,
including many from U Mass Boston, gathered on the Common April
29 to state their case against Romney's proposed cuts to and reorganization
of public higher education.
Facing the statehouse,
rally participants from a coalition of 29 state schools and community
colleges across the commonwealth waved signs proclaiming, "Stop
the Romney Reorganization" and "Stand up for Public Education."
They also chanted "Hey hey, ho ho, 20 percent has got to go"
to the beat of the UMass Dartmouth marching band's drum line.
If Romney's proposed
$42 billion in cuts to public higher education passes, it would
mark a 20 percent decrease in government funding to state schools
and community colleges.
education has become like sharecropping ... I fully
expect a slot machine the next time I go to take an
Dujon, director of Experiential Learning at UMass Boston
cuts] really mean is that one out of every five students no longer
has a right to higher public education," Tom Juravich, director
of the Labor Relations and Research Center at UMass, told the spirited
Juravich, who led the
rally, said, "If this budget cut continues the only kind of
education that's going to be going on is learning how to run the
register at McDonald's!"
has become like sharecropping," Diane Dujon, director of Experiential
Learning at UMass Boston, said. "They don't pay us what we
deserve and they raise the fees.... I fully expect a slot machine
the next time I go to take an elevator [on campus]."
Tuition at UMass
Boston increased $500 a semester for in-state students and $1,000
for out-of-state students following a Board of Trustees vote in
March "responding to nearly two years of cutbacks in state
funding to the U Mass system," according to the University
Reporter. Expected cuts for the upcoming academic year total $10.8
million, on top of $10.5 million that has already been cut since
press office offered no comment in response to the April 29 rally.
But those attending had plenty to say.
I see my brothers and my sisters in Dorchester and Roxbury
and Mattapan looking so down I know why.... What happened
to our urban mission?"
Emmanuel, member of the Black Student Center at UMass
a student and active member of the Black Student Center at UMass
Boston, addressed the crowd passionately, saying, "I represent
the reformed welfare mother...the black woman they said could not
be anything." She said that U Mass's urban mission, which promises
high quality college education at an affordable price, helped her
to turn her life around.
"I'm on fire,"
Emmanuel yelled. "You are not going to tell me that I'm not
going to school."
"When I heard they
raised tuition at U Mass $1,000, that is money I would've spent
on my children's winter clothes," Emmanuel said. "When
I see my brothers and my sisters in Dorchester and Roxbury and Mattapan
looking so down I know why.... What happened to our urban mission?"
Students aren't the only
ones affected by Romney's cuts. Gary Zabel, an adjunct professor
of philosophy at UMass-Boston, said that he, like 65 percent of
the teaching workforce which is composed of adjunct professors,
is getting paid "hamburger flipping wages" because of
a "rotten political system."
to dismantle the [public sector] and sell it to his cronies,"
Zabel said during the rally.
higher education in Massachusetts is in a state of emergency"
Johnson, President of the UMass Staff Association
from other public schools around the state added their voices in
protest of the sweeping cuts. Dr. David Bartley, president of Holyoke
Community College, called public education "not an expense,
but an investment," decrying Massachusetts' rank of 49th in
the nation in government support of public higher education. Only
Mississippi spends less on public higher education than the Bay
Students who attend state
and community colleges "were not born on third base,"
Bartley said. "Our students have jobs, they are diverse, they
are from working class families - I don't think we can let this
administration balance the budget on the backs of those who can
afford it least."
at a crossroads," Bridgewater State College President Dr. Dana
Mohler-Faria said to the crowd. "We can choose to invest in
the future or divest ourselves of the promise of public higher education."
At least four legislators
attended the rally in support of the cause - State Reps. Michael
Rodrigues of Westport, Jeffrey Sanchez of Boston, Ellen Story of
Amherst and State Sen. Steven Tolman. All are Democrats.
"Public higher education
in Massachusetts is in a state of emergency," President of
the UMass Staff Association Donna Johnson said. To UMass students
and those from other public institutions in the state, she urged,
"You are our future, and you must not let [legislators] sell
your future down the road."
Boston Chancellor Jo Ann Gora
Chancellor Jo Ann Gora has responded to fears of cuts in previous
interviews, saying that the school will not falter in its mission.
"UMass Boston, by virtue of the strengths of its faculty and
its mandate to award advanced degrees and pursue research at a high
level, will remain a significant research institution," Gora
said in a letter to campus. However, she added that Romney's proposal
now rested in the hands of lawmakers and not her own.
about the cuts' potential effects at "UMass
Boston: A Campus United"