Massachusetts Daily Collegian

PHENOM, Student Trustees hold ‘Impact’ event following Advocacy Day

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(Joseph Carstairs/Daily Collegian)

(Joseph Carstairs/Daily Collegian)

BOSTON – Following the conclusion of Advocacy Day Monday, members of PHENOM and the University of Massachusetts Student Board of Trustees hosted an “Impact meeting,” in the UMass club on the 32nd floor of 1 Beacon St., Boston.

The event was organized as a logical follow-up to the lobbying event, aimed to connect student lobbyists even further with State House legislators, according to Emily O’Neil.

UMass president Marty Meehan opened the Impact event with information on how public higher education is becoming more expensive.

“When factoring in inflation throughout the years, the price of admission has not changed, the payer has,” Meehan said.

Meehan said, originally, the state covered most of the tuition or public higher education, now the student is becoming more and more invested in the payment.

Emily O’Neil, UMass Amherst student trustee, explained how “Impact” started and what it was made for.

“The makeup of the board of trustees includes five student trustees, one from each of the five UMass campuses, only two of them have the vote. Only two of them having the vote has had a serious impact on how we’ve been able to contribute to the conversation around UMass,” O’Neil said.
She explained that this year, all five trustees of UMass collaborated to make the Impact day happen in a way that would incorporate advocating for UMass. One goal of the event was to stress the importance that the UMass system has in the Commonwealth.

O’Neil went on to explain what she hoped Impact Day would accomplish.
“For three years we have seen a decline in success of advocacy day, so I wanted to follow up advocacy day with a thing that takes legislators out of their element,” O’Neil said.
She said she hoped orchestrating the face-to-face interaction between students and legislators would drive in the effect that student debt has on constituents.

Chairman of the UMass Board of Trustees Victor Woolridge also attended the event to hear the speakers. Woolridge supported the call for increased funding for the UMass system because of widespread economic benefits.
“The University is an extremely valuable asset. We educate the citizens of the commonwealth, and as a result of that, and the quality that we put out, I think that the state, hopefully, sees that value and will want to invest in that value,” Woolridge told the Daily Collegian.
“And if we look at that return on investment that we provide for the state … we are far exceeding any other kind of investment you can make, and get the kind of return we get.”

Woolridge went on to say, “If it’s a positive value, then that’s something you invest in, you don’t let it wither under the vine.”

But as far as free higher education goes, Woolridge thinks that it is a nice and noble idea, “but in real life and practicality, I don’t think that is a functional idea.”

Woolridge went on to talk about Vermont Sen. and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, acknowledging he is popular for saying that we should have free education and that we are going to tax the wealthy.
“I don’t think that’s realistic. I mean we are constantly saying that everything is the fault of the wealthy, nothing is that simplistic,” Woolridge said.
Joseph Carstairs can be reached at [email protected]

 

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