Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Students host rally in support of Bernie Sanders

Sam Anderson/Daily Collegian
Sam Anderson/Daily Collegian

Rally for Bernie Sanders attracts hundreds at UMass from Daily Collegian on Vimeo.

By Brendan Deady and Arthur Doran

Brennan Tierney, a sophomore legal studies major at the University of Massachusetts, stood atop a makeshift wooden platform in front of Machmer Hall and addressed a crowd of about 300 people Tuesday evening.

“This is not just about politics or [Bernie] Sanders or [Hillary] Clinton, this is about building united progressive movement toward justice and equality,” Tierney said.

Before the echo of his voice had trailed off across the concourse, the crowd responded with a chorus of cheers, supportive statements for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and a series of criticisms directed toward his opponents.

Tierney provided the introductory and closing remarks at a rally supporting Sanders’ presidential campaign, which was organized by the unofficial student group “UMass for Bernie Sanders.”

The gathering, which began at 5 p.m., featured professors and UMass students who highlighted Sanders’ policies and distinctions from his competitors that they say make him the ideal candidate for a country “wrought with inequalities.”

UMass economics professor Gerald Friedman took the microphone from Tierney as the rally’s third speaker and asked the attendees to consider the history of the University’s mascot, the Minuteman.
“Massachusetts was where democracy was born. Common farmers fought for their freedom against the greatest empire in the world and brought it down,” Friedman said. “We are not descended from fearful men and women but revolutionaries and now it is time for us to do the same.”

Friedman added that the average American faces a crisis just as grave as the revolutionaries, only the opponents are not a government but a concentrated group of billionaires who have commandeered America’s political system.

“We are faced by a group of people who are constantly trying to elevate their wealth and status by making us their economic servants,” Friedman said.

Friedman described how the egregious control over politicians by the corporations and their lobbyists is leading to the degradation of American democracy. He then turned his focus to the need for a national health care system and suggested that a Sanders presidency was the way to establish such a program in the United States.

According to Friedman, the U.S. wastes trillions of dollars each year through the operation of a private health care system that still fails to provide health care coverage to millions of Americans.

Friedman, a vocal supporter of Sanders who recently wrote on the topic for the Huffington Post, also framed the issue in terms of economic efficiency.

“It has been proven time and time again as an economic theory that single-payer national healthcare insurance funded by the feds is the most efficient way to provide healthcare that also saves millions of lives,” Friedman said.

Friedman expressed exasperation that the wealthiest country in the world could rank 43rd in life expectancy, according to the CIA, and worse in infant mortality rate than some third world countries.

“I still don’t see how this could be a debatable issue. The wealthy have no problem paying for their healthcare but what they do have a problem with is paying the tax dollars for public system,” Friedman said.

He added that a Sanders led administration would institute sweeping healthcare reforms, tackle affordable health care education and stand up to the wealthy interests whose money he has refused to accept.

“We could be a more productive country with better healthcare and infrastructure but we have to demand it. The people on Wall Street and the hacks in Washington won’t give us a thing until we demand it,” Friedman said.

He suggested the best recourse for the average American to stand and fight is to elect Sanders as their next president.

“We’re going to burn it down and stand and fight just like those Minutemen did on that bridge. We will stand and fight and bring the empire down.”

Friedman raised his hands in the air as the crowd before him erupted and chanted. He handed the microphone off to Tierney, who introduced Olivia Murphy as the next speaker.

Murphy, a women, gender, sexuality major, said that at first it might appear counterintuitive for women to vote for Sanders when his biggest opponent is a female candidate.

“The truth is despite Hillary Clinton’s gender, she is not the best option for women,” Murphy said.

Murphy argued that Sanders has the best platform in mind to benefit women’s healthcare and economic standing and is also particularly mindful to minority populations such as single mothers of color.

“Even if some of his policies are not solely directed to oppressed women, many of his general policies still help women. His promise to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour would be a huge assistance to many single mothers,” Murphy said.

Murphy said Sanders’ promise to increase funding for Planned Parenthood, introduce a policy that would require employers to provide a mandatory 12 weeks of paid maternity leave and increase funding to the Woman, Infants and Children program proves he has the interest of women at the center of his campaign.

She added that he is also mindful of the LGBTQ community.
“Sanders has been there since the 1980s and is pushing legislation that would protect discrimination in the workplace, housing and home for our most marginalized populations,” Murphy said.

Earlier in the evening, the event featured several other speakers. Casey Pease, a freshman majoring in political science, was the event’s first speaker. Pease discussed student debt, an issue of great importance to the Sanders campaign.

Citing the $1.2 trillion of student debt owed to the U.S., Pease asserted that the current system is “not sustainable and not acceptable.”

“It’s a system that has us set up to fail, and it’s time for us to raise our voice,” he said.

Pease elaborated on four policies that Sanders plans to implement in order to address student debt: making all public universities tuition-free, stopping the federal government from profiting off of student loans, cutting the interest rate of loans and providing need-based aid and work-study programs so that students may graduate debt-free.

Pease called for action on the part of citizens, proclaiming, “These are not radical ideas. They’re necessary. The only way things will change in this country is if we get involved, raise our voice, register to vote. Then, we can make positive change in this country.”

Ferd Wulkan, organizing director of the Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts, also spoke. He focused on climate change and income inequality, discussing Sanders’ consistent record on issues of sustainability.

Mansur Gidfar, director of communications for, what he has called a “non-partisan anti-corruption organization,” spoke after Murphy and explained the dangers of big money in politics, citing the statistically nonexistent effect that the average American’s preferences have on public policy.
For closing remarks Tierney discussed the “crisis of mass incarceration of minority populations” and the need for America to be the leading force in the transition to renewable energy. He concluded by urging attendees to not let the discussion end with the rally.

“Carry these conversations with you to your dorm rooms, to counters when you’re buying coffee. Think critically and stay involved,” Tierney said.


Brendan Deady can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @bdeady26. Arthur Doran can be reached at [email protected].


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  • J

    JamesOct 28, 2015 at 4:28 am

    If Hilary takes the party nomination, I’m campaign for Trump. I will not compromise on foreign policy. Anti-government violence is not Democracy, it’s terrorism. That’s what we call it here, that’s what it is in Syria. I will not vote for another eight years of that. Bernie is a solid candidate that will serve the people well. Hilary on the other hand is bought and paid for. The big money is already in her pocket and she’s obviously not going to bite the hand that feeds her. CNN, a big supporter, spins her as a leader despite all polls showing people thought Bernie dominating the debates. Then CNN endlessly claims Hilary won and sure enough, the propaganda works, polls now show that people think Hilary won. So, safe to assume she wont be championing Election Reform any time soon. Bernie has my vote, but if Hilary manages to buy, cheat or steal the nomination, I’m voting for Trump.