Over 500 students, staff and faculty from almost every one of the public campuses came to the State House on March 8, 2012 with a simple powerful message: Public Higher Education is critical to the residents of Massachusetts, to our economy, and to our future, and must be adequately funded.
“Costs have risen dramatically,” said Melanie T. Mulvey, 21, a senior at the Amherst campus. “It’s really hurting the university and the state. Low-income students are some of the people who need these opportunities the most because education really levels the playing field.”
All the sponsoring organizations agreed on a simple message, to ask the legislature to take two steps with the FY 2013 budget, increasing the campus operating budgets by 5 percent (and including the collective bargaining reserve proposed by the Governor), and increasing need-based financial aid by five percent as well.
Students and faculty came from the community colleges, upset by the Governor’s proposal to centralize authority and narrow the mission of community colleges.
Katie McDermott, a Mass. Society of Professors Board member from the School of Education at UMass Amherst, said “It was inspiring to hear the students in our group explain the financial barriers they face. They are our best advocates for public higher education.”
A lot of different groups worked together to make the Advocacy Day a success: student government leaders in SAC—the Student Advisory Council to the Board of Higher Education, the Center for Educational Policy and Advocacy at UMass Amherst, the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the Public Higher Education Caucus of the Legislature, the administrations of the Community Colleges, State Universities and University of Massachusetts, and of course PHENOM.