Thursday March 7, 2019—A rally was held on campus concerning the new parking rates that the University of Massachusetts Boston had imposed early January—rates which many staff and students say go against the message of accessibility put forth by the university.

The rally began in the Campus Center: starting at first with a couple of teachers and students holding water bottles. Within minutes more rally goers had joined in and the rally kicked off to a booming start. Chanting and beating of water jug drums became the dominant sound in the Campus Center Terrace, mixing with the sounds of chatter within the cafeteria.

“Hey Hey, Ho Ho This Parking Fee has got to go!” participants shouted with enthusiasm as campus safety watched on.

After the crowd had rose to nearly 70 people, an opening speech was given by Anneta Argyres, Director of Labor Extension on campus, as well as the president of the Professional Staff Union of UMass Boston. The Professional Staff Union is present on both the UMass Boston and Amherst campuses. She laid out the basis of the action and enlightened participants on the efforts that were taken before and after the rally to spark change. The rally was set in the midst of a multi-year struggle with administration and unions regarding both the parking rate and the steady increase in tuition rates. Argyres says that the goal is to make parking more affordable for the students and lower paid staff.

Among the most vocal of the protesters was Joe Ramsey, a UMass Boston faculty member in the English and American Studies Department, and elected representative of the faculty staff union. He brought his students along with him as a part of a vote made a class earlier. Ramsey says that some of the main themes in his classes are education and inequality and how they intersect with one another. After the rally ended, Ramsey and his class had a discussion about what went on. Ramsey believes that the rally was an effort to put more pressure on the administration to give its students and staff a better deal on parking.

The rally then moved right up to the second floor of the Quinn building where affected students and faculty voiced what the parking fee did to them. Their march then progressed further up to the third floor where chants and drumming blasted near full volume in the carpeted hallways. Once the majority of the march participants were settled outside of the Chancellor’s Quarters, they waited as Interim Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, Emily McDermott, was on her way back to her office. When she arrived she was civilly confronted by rally goers with questions for her.

Another active member of the rally was Jelena Savic, a nontraditional student at Umass Boston, who raised the question of the irregular class sizes to the smaller number of faculty members to teach them. She also questioned the recent 235 million dollar bayside deal that the university struck with Accordia partners, wondering why the money wasn't used for improvements in the university (UMass Boston isn’t getting that money all at once, it’s a lease). Savic also heavily advocated for more open and frequent communication with President Meehan and Chancellor Katherine Newman concerning school related issues more closely affecting the students.

On the second floor, Savic was the first to confront McDermott with her concerns. She explained to McDermott that she was in a class in which the advisor stated that out of the 91 students enrolled in the class, only 40% of them were expected to pass. Savic cited information from the school website about increasing enrollment wondering why the graduation rate dropped even though there were so many new students enrolled. She explained that there had been many changes done by the university to preserve the smaller enrollment sizes of classes at the 300 and 400 level. She went on to explain that there are pedagogical reasons why some disciplines have larger or smaller class sizes. One of Ramsey’s students went on later to tell him that the sentence brought to mind ‘The Pedagogy of the Oppressed’ by Paulo Freire, one of the books that she learned in class. During the encounter with McDermott, Ramsey asked why there was not a formal established voice during university meetings about class size. McDermott emphasized that while students are welcome to make recommendations about class sizes it they cannot make a formal choice in the matter.

While the march was happening eight out of the original 10 members of the Bargaining Committee members engaged in conversations over the parking rate with Kathleen Kirleis, Maureen Pelton, Marie Bowen and a private lawyer by the name of Joe Amboss.

The bargaining team put forth a two-page proposal document to the administrators based off of employee salary.

Bayside, University provided off-campus lots

Daily Salary levels at all Salary levels

$9/day

Up to $40k

$96/month ($432/semester*) $180/30-use pass ($6/day*)

$40k up to $50k

$100/month ($450/semester*) $187.50/30-use pass ($6.25/day*

$50K up to $60K

$104/month ($468/semester*) $195/30-use pass ($6.50/day*)

60K up to $70K

$108/month ($486/semester*) $202.50/30-use pass ($6.75/day*)

More than 70K

$112/month ($504/semester*) $210/30-use pass ($7/day*)

West Garage,Campus Center Garage, Lot D

Daily Salary levels at all Salary levels

$13/day

Evening rates (starting at 4pm) and weekend parking: $8 flat rate

Up to $40k

$112/month ($504/semester*) $210/30-use pass ($7/day*)

$40k up to $50k

$114.56/month ($515.52/semester*) $214.80/30-use pass ($7.16/day*)

$50K up to $60K

$117.12/month ($527.04/semester*) $219.60/30-use pass ($7.32/day*)

$60K up to $70K

$119.68/month ($538.56/semester*) $224.40/30-use pass ($7.48/day*)

More than 70K

$122.24/month ($550.08/semester*) $229.20/30-use pass ($7.64/day*)

West Garage Reserved Rates

Daily Salary levels at all Salary levels

Hourly rates in West Garage only: $4 for the first hour $1.50 for each additional half hour, up to the daily max of $13

Up to $40k

$168/month

$40k up to $50k

$171.84/month

$50K up to $60K

$175.68/month

60K up to $70K

$179.52/month

More than 70K

$183.36/month

At the end of the meeting, there was a counter proposal offered by the university in which some of the details of the original proposal were kept along with some revisions. They are to be put in place March 25.

 

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