Month: March 2022

Public College Should Not be a Debt Sentence!

Take Action to Win Debt-Free College in Mass.

THIS THURSAY 3/24

You might have heard the news that this week New Mexico became the 31st state to offer some kind of statewide debt-free college. We need your help to win that in Massachusetts!

PHENOM (Public Higher Ed Network of Massachusetts) and other groups need our help to advance a debt-free college bill in our state legislature. If it doesn’t move out of committee to a floor vote, this bill will die and will have to be restarted in the next legislative session. S829/H1339, An Act to Guarantee Debt-Free Public Higher Education,” would guarantee every Massachusetts resident has a right to a public higher education free of tuition, fees, and student debt and covers all MA public higher ed institutions, including UMB.

This legislation will create a grant program to cover tuition and fees for all MA residents to attend any MA public college, university, or certificate, vocational or training program. It will also cover additional costs of attendance (housing, transportation, books, etc.) for low income students. These funds will NOT affect eligibility for other financial aid.

Will you make 2 phone calls on Thurs. 3/24 to help win Debt-Free College in MA?

Any time between 9am and 5pm on Thursday 3/24 [tomorrow!], please call the Chairs of the Joint Committee on Higher Education and ask them to positively report out S829/H1339 “An Act to Guarantee Debt-Free Public Higher Education,” before the April 4th deadline. This will bring the bill to the House and Senate floors for a vote. Otherwise, the bill will die, and PHENOM will have to start over during the next State House session. Note that both these Chairs are big supporters of public higher education.

The Senate Committee Chair is Senator Anne M. Gobi of Central Mass. Her phone number is: 617-722-1540

The House Committee Chair is Representative David Rogers of Cambridge. His phone number is: (617) 722-2263

Some Talking Points:

  • When you call Senator Gobi’s and Rep. Roger’s offices, please give them your name and your UMass Boston affiliation (staff, student, alum, faculty, etc.).
  • The ask: you are calling to ask the Chair to please positively report out S829/H1339 “An Act to Guarantee Debt-Free Public Higher Education,” before the April 4th deadline.
  • Please also tell the Chairs why this legislation matters to you.

Some ideas on why passing S829/H1339 matters to so many people in Massachusetts:

  • I believe that access to debt-free, high-quality public higher education should be the right of every Massachusetts resident.
  • Cuts in state funding for public colleges are making it impossible for students and families to afford college. These cuts are now driving Massachusetts public college tuition and fees up faster than any other state in the country. 
  • Many students and their families are burdened by debilitating debt that severely limits their future opportunities.
  • The average student debt in Massachusetts is $37,172 growing.
  • Student debt affects most heavily Black, Latinx, other people of color, low-income and first generation students, who are the majority of our UMass Boston undergraduate students.
  • Massachusetts has the 10th highest student debt burden in the country and the sixth lowest public college budget.
  • 31 other state legislatures have passed some kind of debt-free college legislation. Our state legislature should join them!
  • YOUR THOUGHTS AND EXPERIENCES. . .

Please let us know what you hear from on your calls or hear back from the Committee Chairs. Share that information with our UMB PHENOM Organizer, Izabel.Depina001@umb.edu.

HVAC Presentation and Report

The Massachusetts Teacher Association commissioned a third party to do an airflow evaluation of Wheatley – we now have the reports, and they are not good. Sixty percent of the rooms in Wheatley do not achieve the recommended number of air exchanges per hour. 

Read the report here. On Friday, join us from 12pm to 1pm as the researchers present their findings directly. You can do so by clicking into this Zoom link at that time.

https://umassboston.zoom.us/j/91336634626

Dorchester Bay City Petition

Please help us get a better Dorchester Bay City Proposal by signing and sharing this petition to Mayor Wu and the Boston Planning and Development Authority to Slow Down Approval.

The current proposal for “Dorchester Bay City” is far too big, far too brash, and needs to be slowed down!  We hope the new Mayor will recognize this need – but we need to urge her to do so.

Please support important changes to Dorchester Bay City (DBC) development and the timeline for approving it. You have heard several times this year from our Administration about Accordia Partners’ plan to build Dorchester Bay City—a project as large as three Empire State Buildings–on waterfront land leased from UMass Boston at the former Bayside Expo Center, with some adjoining land. The UMB Administration has actively supported this project, which will generate up to $235 million in future revenue for the campus, as it has moved through the City’s development review process.  

At the same time, many UMB staff, faculty and students strongly oppose the DBC project’s process to date and its current form. We believe that our campus has a moral responsibility as the largest “anchor institution” in the community and the major financial beneficiary of this development to push the developers to do better (at the very least, a scaled down version with decent affordable housing). Many members of the broader Dorchester community also oppose the current plan because of the significant economic and climate risks it will bring for the community and the fact that to date many of the most at-risk members of the community have not been sufficiently included in the process.

Make Your Voice Heard! What You Can Do to Help Us Get a Better DBC Proposal 

We encourage you to sign the petition linked below that was created by our community partner coalition, DotNot4Sale. It calls on Mayor Michelle Wu and the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) to institute a six month slow-down of the project approval process, which will help us to get real community feedback, as well as more commitments around affordability, good jobs, and community benefits.

The petition link is https://bit.ly/DBCPetition

Please also share this petition with others who can help us reach the Mayor and the BPDA. We need this time to get real commitments from the developer and to make sure residents most impacted by displacement are at the table. Let’s win real affordability, actions against displacement, jobs access, climate resiliency, and racial justice!

Undoing Racism Anti-Racist Training

The Undoing Racism Assembly is offering two (2) separate virtual training workshops this spring. The first virtual workshop will run on Fridays: March 25, April 1, and April 8 (9am-3pm). The second virtual workshop will run on Thursdays: April 21, April 28, and May 5 (9am-3pm). Participation in all three sessions of the workshop you sign-up for is required.

This training is an important step towards being armed with information that can assist with UMB’s aim to be an anti-racist and health promoting university. To register, use this link: https://forms.gle/Je4zQYn7G5NMpF4PA 

Please reach out to ​tony.vandermeer@umb.edu and keith.jones@umb.edu if you have any questions.

Weekend Demonstration

This weekend is the Eastern Sociological Society – and they’re holding their conference at UMass Boston. We want to make sure the ESS knows who keeps UMass Boston running, and what they want from the university… but we need your help for it.

We want you to show up on Saturday or Sunday in the morning and afternoon (you can see the times in the google form below!) to help us spread the word. The plan is to have a non-disruptive presence; ESS isn’t why we’re underpaid. But if we can educate and inform everyone who is on campus for that conference, we can turn them into allies and make sure they remember UMass Boston’s graduate students as they return home… or tell the chancellor about us. 

To volunteer, fill out this google form: https://forms.gle/Vk3pZik9A8YtguDQ7 

Bargaining This Week

Bargaining is this week on Wednesday. Last session, Management came back to us with an offer – a 2.5% increase in salary for the 21-22 year, and 2.0% for 22-23 and 23-24 year, as well as a 190$ increase to the health insurance cap.

We know they can do better.

Join us this Wednesday, at

1030AM, Quinn-03-081A, or

1100AM, CC2115

We will be holding more events in the weeks to come. Management is starting to move, which means we have to push them harder. Keep your eyes and schedules open.