“If we as students do not organize and demand our right to a #DebtFreeFuture, who will?” UMass Amherst student Nathalie Amazan asked the 500-person crowd gathered at the State House on March 5th for Public Higher Education Advocacy Day 2018.
“You have the power. You have the power. You have the power. You have the power. You have the power,” Amazan declared, pointing at different groups of students gathered across the room. “All of us have the power as students to organize together and demand a system that works for us. We have the power to do that today. That’s why we’re here.”
Hundreds of students from public colleges and universities across Massachusetts took that power right into the Beacon Hill offices of their state representatives and state senators, laying out an ambitious and long-overdue agenda to make college affordable and accessible for the students and families of the Commonwealth.
WBUR: “As Costs Climb At Public Colleges, State Leaders Weigh Fixes — But Students Demand More”
WWLP-22 News: “Students push for lawmakers to increase higher education funding”
State House News Service: “UMass eyes online ed revenues to address affordability”
MassLive.com: “UMass President Marty Meehan stresses college affordability in State of UMass address”
Some of the great photos taken by students, volunteers, and organizers at Public Higher Education Advocacy Day 2018!
What is Advocacy Day?
Advocacy Day is an annual event where supporters of our public colleges and universities head to the State House to share their stories about high tuition and fee costs, struggling to piece together an income as an adjunct professor, the burdens of student debt on their families and the other challenges we all face because of the high cost of public higher education.
Your Story is Important
Are your student tuition and fees too high? Do you and your family struggle to afford college? Are you worried about how student debt will affect the future for you and your children? Are you an adjunct faculty member working for low pay and no health insurance? Are you a staff person who has seen their pay erode? Are you concerned that the yearly budget cuts by the state are hurting the education we provide to students?
Your story is important. And legislators want to hear it.
On Beacon Hill, just 10 phone calls can make a difference and get legislation supported and passed. We are showing up in force at the State House on March 5th to share our stories and be the difference. Legislators want to hear from students and working families in their district, and hearing from you could get them to support a vision of high-quality, debt-free public higher education that is affordable for students and treats campus workers with dignity and respect.
So start thinking about the story you want to tell, and we will be working with you to perfect that story as we lead up to the event.
What Are We Asking For?
Our overall ask is simple: We want a #DebtFreeFuture for current and future public college students, alumni and their families. To move closer this year, we are asking for:
(1) A #DebtFreeFuture for Current and Future Students
- Policy: Pass the Finish Line Grant this year
- Policy: $500 Million in New Annual Funds from the Fair Share Amendment
(2) A #DebtFreeFuture for Past Students and Alumni
- Policy: Pass the Student Loan Borrower’s Bill of Rights this year
- Policy: Support Student Debt Forgiveness through the Fair Share Amendment
(3) Funding Public Colleges and Supporting Workers
- Policy: Meet the full budget requests our campuses made for this year’s state budget
- Policy: Fix Adjunct Faculty Health Insurance this year
Trainings and Materials
When and Where?
Advocacy Day is on Monday, March 5th, 2018 and starts at the Massachusetts State House at 10 a.m. There are events in the Great Hall of Flags from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. We will also be supporting on-campus events for people who cannot make it to the State House on March 5th.
9:30 AM to 10:45 AM — Registration
10:45 AM to 11:15 AM — Speaking Program
11:15 AM to 11:30 AM — Mock Legislative Meeting
11:30 AM to 1:00 PM — Visit with Your Legislators
1:00 PM to 2:00 PM — Closing Speakers and Lunch in the Great Hall
Transportation and Food
There will be transportation from the campuses, and we will have lunch ready for you at the State House after you visit with your legislators.
Public Higher Education Advocacy Day is hosted by the Public Higher Education Summit Group and sponsored by the following organizations.
PHENOM (Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts)
Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance
Center for Education Policy and Advocacy (CEPA) at UMass Amherst
Massachusetts Teachers Association
State Universities Council of Presidents
Massachusetts Community Colleges Executive Office
UMass President’s Office