Letter: Stand Up for UMass at Advocacy Day

By Zac Bears

(Courtesy of PHENOM)

To the editor:

State funding for Massachusetts public colleges and universities has fallen by 31 percent per student over the past 15 years. That means higher costs for students, greater reliance on non-tenure track faculty and more privatization on our campuses. That’s why students, faculty, staff and communities are standing up and fighting back at the 6th Annual Public Higher Education Advocacy Day on March 1 at the State House.

Advocacy Day is an annual event where supporters of our public colleges and universities head to the State House to share their stories about the high costs of tuition and fees, struggling to piece together an income as an adjunct professor, the burdens of student debt on their families and the other challenges that people face because of the cost of higher public education.

We also share the important stories of the high-quality education and community-building our public community colleges, state universities and University of Massachusetts campuses provide every single day.

Our public higher education system is strong in Massachusetts, but the high costs of tuition and fees are a major burden on students and working families across the state. Recent reports show that hunger and homelessness are rising on our campuses, and that’s because students are often faced with the choice of paying for school or paying their rent. We know that’s wrong. You do too.

Join our coalition of student activists, labor educators, faculty and staff members, community supporters, union organizers and business leaders to fight for high-quality, debt-free public colleges and universities in our state. You don’t need lobbying experience. We’ll give you some tips on how to share your stories with legislators in the most effective way.

Talk to your professors about the event because you can get an excused absence and might even be able to get extra credit. Transportation from UMass will be provided, and we will provide lunch at the State House. All you need to bring is your story to share with your legislators. We know they want to hear it.

Register here (bit.ly/PHEAD17) to join us on March 1 to stand up and advocate for UMass Amherst and our public higher education system.

Editor’s Note: Zac Bears is the former op-editor of the Collegian. He graduated in 2015.
He is the executive director of PHENOM, the Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts.