Students Rally Outside Student Union to Rally Against 3% Tuition Increase – Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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“For so long, the educational establishment has maintained inequality…we are here to stop it”

Ana Pietrewicz / Daily schoolgirl

Students, activists and lawmakers gathered outside the Student Union on Tuesday to protest a proposal by the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees to raise tuition and fees by 2.5 3% for the 2022-2023 academic year. The event drew a crowd of activists who held signs, sang, gave speeches and shared their stories.

Despite the cold and windy conditions, a crowd grew outside the Student Union when the rally began at noon. Students held signs, some of which featured the slogans “no cuts, no fees, education should be free” and “public college shouldn’t be a debt condemnation”. Rally participants handed out brochures and signs while different speakers took turns leading songs and delivering speeches.

Henry Morgan, a student senator at Greenfield Community College and an organizer on behalf of the Debt Free Future Act, said “for so long the educational establishment has maintained inequality…we are here to stop it.”

Miles Cordin, a graduate student in the labor studies program, discussed the Fair Share Act, which will be on the ballot in the 2022 state elections. This is a law that the state would pass to raise taxes by four percentage points on income over $1 million. Cordin says the bill, if passed, will generate “two billion dollars in revenue” and help reduce “economic and racial inequality.”

Although the rally was opposed to the increase in tuition and fees, many other issues were also discussed. Mya Pol, a fourth-year communications major, mentioned that “the University continues to employ faculty who teach ableist ideologies and deny students access to learning accommodations.”

Pol criticized UMass administration for not “effectively staffing disability services” and mentioned that many campus facilities were not accessible to students because there were no ramps. or opening buttons on the outside of the doors.

“Students with disabilities suffer and suffer daily,” Pol said.

A crowd began to form as the speakers spoke and some passers-by could be seen nodding in agreement. After the students talked about accessibility and the proposed tuition increase, State Senator Jo Comerford and State Representative Carmine Gentile took turns discussing some of the laws they were supporting in the Massachusetts State Legislature.

Senator Comerford thanked the students for organizing the rally. She pointed out that public funding for public higher education has decreased by 31% since 2001. She mentioned that she is one of the sponsors of the Cherish Act, which will adjust the amount of funding for higher education to return it to 2001 funding levels. Senator Comerford also expressed support for the Debt-Free College Act, a bill to dramatically reduce student debt and tuition at public colleges and universities, among other things.

The Gentile State representative mentioned that “in the Netherlands, in Germany, people get [bachelors and graduate degrees] for free,” while students in the United States often take out tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans.

After the speakers finished delivering their speeches, the students were invited to talk about the issue of student debt and how it affects them personally. Students expressed optimism that future generations could be spared heavy college bills, but lamented that many people have been pushed into poverty by student debt in the past, and are. always.

George Prodanas can be reached at [email protected]

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