The joke isn’t funny

By Roy Ribitzky

Got money?

That’s the inside joke going on over at Whitmore as UMass tries to figure out ways to bring in revenue at our expense. When administrators come to campus to work they don’t see students, they see dollar signs. UMass is planning on increasing its student size while laying off professors and putting off community building projects. What this means is larger class sizes, fewer classes and poorer education.

Mandatory meal plans for all campus residents, marketing more towards out-of-state students, opting to not extend teacher contracts, small state funds … what is going on?

Public education in Massachusetts is taking the privatized route. Executives at UMass are worrying more about their wallets and positions, especially interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Life Jean Kim. With the recent debacle in the sexual harassment case, Kim is trying to do anything she can to keep her job. That does not mean pleasing us; it means she has to please the Board of Trustees.

Last year the Boston Globe reported that UMass will begin trying to recruit more and more out-of-state students, who bring the school more revenue. There is also speculation that the sizes of incoming freshmen classes will be increased by 300 students over the next decade and new residential areas will begin to be built.

Some recession. Not to worry about temporary housing, the school has an answer: they believe that all sophomores, juniors, and seniors lean towards off-campus housing. In other words, they’re banking on us moving off campus. How so? Mandatory meal plans. Force all residents to buy into an overpriced meal plan and that will push some students off campus.

UMass is focusing on bringing more outsiders to school because they bring in more money. Go figure, Massachusetts spends one of the least amounts of money on public education: about 3.9 percent compared to the state average of 6.5 percent, according to PHENOM. Alabama’s beating us.

My classes are already big enough. I don’t need to stand an hour and fifteen minutes watching a replacement instructor read off their notes that they post on SPARK. I don’t need to force myself to eat at the dining commons if I don’t want to regardless of where I choose to live. The members of the Board of Trustees only care about themselves. If they cared about us, they wouldn’t think about revenue. They would ask: how can we keep women safe on this campus? How can we encourage responsible drinking? How can we diversify our campus (there are 14,000 white undergrads and less than 900 African American identified students)? But more importantly: how can we better education? The chancellor makes over $300,000 annually. Where’s my share?

Revenue does not breed success. Can executives in the establishment for once put aside their wallets and do something for us? I’m not asking to lower the school price, God forbid I sound socialist. There isn’t even enough housing on campus to fit two grades, but they want to add more out-of-state students to make a profit? It is so frustrating that the school thinks of us as an assembly line: just roll them in and get us out of here. What happened to intellectual property? What happened to ethics and morals? We are here now, and we should be the focus of their attention. We put bread on their tables and in return they give us massive student debt. The administration does not care about us, no matter how much they say they do to the press. I guess we’re all just a part of some big joke.

Roy Ribitzky is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]