Thursday, March 4, 2010

Education Rights Day of Action at UMass Boston

 LOCAL REPORT   | Julie Keefe

Despite the snow, about 100 students, faculty and staff took part in an outdoor rally and speak-out at noon at UMass Boston as part of a national day of action to defend education.

Speakers voiced anger at student fee increases--a $1,500 fee increase was passed last year--and budget cuts to education--Massachusetts decreased funding to higher education by 37 percent between 2008 and 2010.

One speaker questioned the priorities of UMass, which granted President Jack Wilson a $73,000 raise this year. Meanwhile, UMass teachers are asked to do more and more work for less pay. And every student knows several others who couldn't return to campus this semester due to costs.

For 40 percent of Massachusetts families, the cost of one year at a four-year public university is equal to more the 50 percent of yearly family income. It's no wonder that over one-third of UMass Boston students report stress due to lack of money for personal and family essentials, such as food and rent.

We chanted "Education is a right, not just for the rich and white!" After hearing several speakers, the speak-out transformed into an impromptu march through campus. We were able to march through each building on campus before police blocked the entrance to the Campus Center and threatened arrest.

Popular chants were "Real pain, real action!" in solidarity with the anti-racist struggle at UCSD and "What's disgusting? Union busting! What's outrageous? Tuition raises!"