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

Letter: UMatter at UMass, but do you matter in Massachusetts?

It’s time to remind legislators that we all matter in Massachusetts
(Hayley Johnson/ Daily Collegian)

We all know the phrase “UMatter at UMass,” and we do matter. As students at the University of Massachusetts, we have checks and balances such as the Student Government Association and the Center for Education Policy & Advocacy to ensure the administration doesn’t make decisions without student input. Student power manifests itself both in SGA resolutions encouraging the administration to commit to renewable energy, and through student protests prompting the administration to divest its endowment from fossil fuels.

But do we exercise the same, or similar, power on Beacon Hill, the seat of the Massachusetts state legislature? Look at their actions and you’ll see that the state legislature has continuously failed us by systematically divesting from public higher education year after year.  The Foundation Budget Review Commission also finds that our legislature underfunds K-12 education by more than $1 billion each year. Our legislators work for us. The fact that they spend their days raising their own salaries and offering tax breaks to corporations like GE and Amazon instead of meeting the real needs of their constituents is an affront to democracy. Now is the time for those on Beacon Hill to remember who sent them there. We, the voters, will not be silent in the face of this abdication of responsibility.

We live in an era in which the top 0.1 percent of our society owns as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. This is a level of wealth inequality we haven’t seen since pre-Revolutionary France — an unhappy story with an unhappy ending. The solution to this issue begins with free public higher education, ensuring low-income people can get the education they need to compete in today’s economy.

To advocate for economic justice, CEPA and the Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts will take to Beacon Hill on Monday, March 5, with students from public universities across the state. There, we will demand that our legislators remember that they work for “we,” the many, not “they,” the few. Free breakfast, lunch and transportation will be provided, so any student can attend.

Now more than ever, Massachusetts needs free public higher education, proper investment in K-12 public education, universal healthcare, investment in green energy jobs and assurances that Massachusetts police forces will not aid Immigration and Customs Enforcement in its mass deportation of undocumented immigrants.

On the path to all these goals, we in CEPA and PHENOM are asking the state legislature to adopt these concrete reforms: Pass the Finish Line Grant to ensure all students receive one year of free public higher education in Massachusetts; guarantee $500 million in additional higher education funding from the approximately $2 billion generated by the Fair Share Amendment; pass the Student Loan Borrower’s Bill of Rights this year; commit to meeting the budget requests from community colleges, state schools and universities for this year’s budget.

Register to join us on March 5, so we can hold our public servants accountable. As we, the working students of the Commonwealth, demand our legislators work for us, we must also inspire hope in each other as a united front. We are lucky to live in times of grand economic prosperity — now, let’s ensure we benefit from that prosperity. It’s time to remind our legislators that we all matter in Massachusetts.

James Cordero is the External Communication Coordinator of CEPA and can be reached at [email protected].

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  • S

    Stephen YMar 17, 2018 at 1:43 am

    Has CEPA or PHENOM accomplished anything since I attended there for my master’s degree?

    The state is required to have a balanced budget under its constitution. So where does this 500 million come from? Increased revenue? I know in the little isolated world of Amherst news is not often received, but state revenues have not been increasing which is why my company is buying up record bond issues from the state. Is it from the Fair Share Amendment, which has yet to pass?

    And why would Massachusetts tax dollars be given to people who are not Massachusetts residents, or American citizens? Our allegiance is to each other as citizens first, then the rest of the world. Boston needs a rapid transit overhaul. Western Mass needs better local transport infrastructure, and primary education needs.

    Perhaps CEPA and PHENOM have forgotten the long-held-high words of Massachusetts and internationally beloved leader, JFK. “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”

  • J

    John aimoMar 3, 2018 at 8:21 pm

    Actually Massachusetts has one of the best education systems in the country, to demand more is a little bit greedy and ungrateful.

    There also needs to be another debate and that’s about standards. To attend an university, especially a flagship(which umass amherst is) should require standards. Basically that means you have to be good enough, intelligent enough, capable enough and nobody from affirmative action to their socio-economic background deserves either an automatic admission or one with lower standards for them. College shouldn’t be some ticket for anyone to get a ‘better job’ or make more money or some social engineering attempt.

    University graduates used to make up 1/3 of the population, but with an attempt to get more people to attend and dilute standards, in the future it will be around 50 percent, that means the value of a degree is diminished and so will its cachet. It’s already less valuable to have a bachelor’s degree in the job market and it will continue to be.

  • N

    NITZAKHONMar 1, 2018 at 2:18 pm

    So tell me, please… just how much of what some else earns are you entitled to take at the point of a gun?