Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Letter: We have the power to put students first

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When we come to the University of Massachusetts, we gain more than just knowledge. The University provides us with a classroom to learn in, a library to study in and a room and natural environment to live in. Here, we have access to a state-of-the-art recreation center, a fairly reliable bus system and the top campus dining in the country.

Yet, though the University provides us all of these amenities, they do not come without significant costs. From purchasing textbooks and a meal plan to paying for printing, laundry and housing, these small costs add to the thousands of dollars of tuition payments.

We seem to regard UMass as a privileged university that we are so lucky to attend. We seem to forget that UMass is a public institution that is accountable to us all. We need to realize that our education is, well, ours.

Everyone accepts that education is valuable. Besides the solely economic value, there is value in acquiring new knowledge and engaging in critical thinking. While we are here, everything around us impacts the education we are receiving and the dignity we feel.

Imagine if UMass was hollowed out: No longer would it be responsible for supplying physical structures and services. All classrooms would be the result of a negotiation between a private leaser and a professor. Students would have to figure out living arrangements, where to purchase food and transportation without the University’s support. It would certainly make living here more difficult and time-consuming than the system we currently have. That is why these structures and services which UMass provides are so vital, and that is why we must come to the realization that they belong to us.

By accepting the notion that we all have a claim to these institutional arrangements, we can gain influence over them in ways that we likely never imagined. We can directly have a say on not just how much money comes out of our wallets, but also the quality of these services. Having trouble with the Wi-Fi (as many of us did after we returned from Thanksgiving break last semester)? Then we should demand that the University upgrades its spotty internet service, so that we can enjoy watching Netflix or getting assignments done without the frustration of Eduroam failing.

As the renowned Hindu monk Swami Vivekananda expressed, “All the powers in the universe are already ours. It is we who have put our hands before our eyes and cry that it is dark.” Thus, it is up to us to decide whether we are going to make the changes that we want with the power that is already ours. We must realize our collective potential and organize around it.

So how can we bring about this awareness? How can we promote change? On campus, the Center for Education Policy & Advocacy (CEPA) is organizing to put students first. The Affordable Higher Education Campaign within CEPA is focusing on decreasing many out-of-pocket fees and eliminating tuition.

CEPA meets every Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in room 423A of the Student Union.

Jonathan Blum

UMass CEPA Affordable Higher Education Campaign

1 Comment

One Response to “Letter: We have the power to put students first”

  1. John aimo on January 25th, 2018 1:18 am

    I thought this was a good article until you mentioned a spiritual quote about the universe. Tuition at umass is already very low, if you look at the accounting, most of the cost you pay goes to fees. If tuition was eliminated fees would go up, if out of pocket fees were reduced, the costs would just be shifted or services reduced.

    Honestly I think that umass facilities and services are really low quality and subpar, but it’s a public university so i don’t expect much and although tuition is high, it has among the lowest endowments and amount of money spent per student of any university. Also what most people don’t know, its the most expensive public college in the country.

    I think that if students demand better services, they would get it, because ultimately the student is the customer. I think that the university, professors and those who work here often have the opposite mentality,maybe because of our age, because our parents may pay for some of tuition, maybe because students are more focused on class/having fun; and it’s taken advantage of.

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