On Thursday Sept 14, the University of Massachusetts Boston’s "Save UMB Coalition" hosted a formal protest that was aimed at pushing back against the school’s $30 million deficit.
“This means higher tuition for students,” a coalition member said to the crowd of faculty and staff.
The coalition released a financial report that reveals the university’s budgeting and financial handlings since 2013. The report, titled “Crumbling Public Foundations: Privatization and UMB’s Financial Crisis” reveals that at the continuous rate that UMass Boston is apparently spending, by the fiscal year of 2018, the University will reach a deficit of $40 million.
The coalition called on the Board of Trustees and the state of Massachusetts to take “immediate action.”
Anneta Argyres, one of the coalition members who co-authored the report, claimed that reconstruction of the campus is necessary since most of the substructures in various buildings had been poorly built back in the ‘70s. “The substructure of our buildings are deteriorating under our feet and it must be fixed.” Agyres said. “We have to rebuild this campus in order to safely teach and learn,” she added.
The Board of Trustees has publicly claimed that in the past, along with University officials, that the state of Massachusetts has been giving public funds to the University to continue some reconstruction projects.
According to Argyres, UMass Boston has apparently been paying a robust amount of money for the University’s own reconstruction projects. “Who should pay for this construction?” Argyres asked.
According to the report, the state has paid 18% of construction costs. All other costs, by law, have been paid by UMass Boston.
Argyres said to the crowd on Thursday that while UMass Boston’s substructure is deteriorating, the University has been asked to cut back on its “operating expenses” to minimize its chances of increasing debt. A coalition member who spoke to the crowd stated that the number of shuttle buses available to students and faculty at the University had to be decreased. In addition, recent vacated faculty positions have yet to be filled. Another coalition member said that “Courses that students need to graduate aren’t regularly being offered.”
Massachusetts State Representative Mike Connolly made an appearance and address the crowd: “Here in Massachusetts, we protect the state... This is the spirit I want to see.” Connolly also stated that there is a plan to cut down on Massachusetts’ state tax. Connolly did not make it explicitly clear as to how this plan will be carried out in the future.
A recent graduate of UMass Boston and a member of the coalition, Juan Blanco, said that having other priorities, such as taking care of families or a part-time job, is a common story that one will hear from students at UMass Boston. “Such explicit decisions affect students, like myself.” Blanco said.
“When the university forgets us, they are forgetting their mission, they are forgetting me.” Blanco added.