UMass Boston Students Protest Administration Policies
BOSTON - It was no April Fools’ Day for UMass Boston students and community. Following mid morning classes, over 70 students and faculty joined together to rally for UMass Boston student rights’ in the Campus Center Plaza.
For nearly a half hour students united together, sharing personal experiences of combating several extreme issues on campus including student space allocation, lack of transparency or accountability in use of student fees, need of autonomy for the Undergraduate Student Senate and General Student Assembly, accountability of the administration for grievances against students and faculty, censorship issues regarding student funded and initiated events, inadequate handicap accessibility, continued lack of communication and disengagement on campus, and answers regarding the College of Community and Public Service “situation.”
Students attended the rally possibly feeling connected or passionate about a given issue more than another. The point of the rally was to not focus on one specific event or grievance. It was pertinent that the rally did not focus on any one “hot topic,” which could easily be forgotten as another came forward. The immediate goal of the rally is to serve, firstly, as a publicity stunt to initiate conversation on campus between the students and have them say, “Wow, I am not alone on this.”
United, the group marched forward to the Quinn Administration Building shouting various empowering chants including, “UMass! … Students!” and “This is just the beginning!” while carrying posters with slogans reading, “Stop Pacifying Us,” or “Student Centered? Prove it!” After arriving at the Quinn, students remained empowered hearing from the various leading organizers one being Jennifer Alderton, a College of Community and Public Service student and current Undergraduate Student Senator.
Alderton reminded the mature students and faculty that the university is expecting the group to “raise the bar” in that they would be a “dignified” group as they prepared to walk in a single file up to the Chancellor J. Keith Motley’s office to deliver a letter identifying their grievances and concerns. Unfortunately, the walk did not occur as Campus Security blocked the way. Students were told if they were to walk into their university building, no matter how dignified and respectful as they had prepared to be, they would face arrest in that there was “no scheduled appointment.” Students were then told that Chancellor Motley was not even on campus.
Unprepared to face civil disobedience at this moment, five group members were selected to make the journey and request an appointment. Led by Campus Security directly to the office, passing several Vice Chancellors and various administrators watching the students and hearing their continued chants, the five delivered the letter to the Chancellor’s staff to be told that his schedule would be juggled in the upcoming weeks to make an appointment with student negotiators regarding resolutions for students’ concerns.
Though student leaders did not meet with Chancellor Motley this afternoon there was no discussion of defeat amongst students. The seventy members of the group and the countless number of those who signed petitions in support will remain connected over the coming weeks preparing to move forward and become organized towards positive change. Again, this is only the beginning. It would be anticipated for students’ message and concerns at a disengaged commuter school to falter and disappear like yesterday’s news. But here at UMass Boston, one has learned to expect the unexpected.
Brenda Tracchia is an undergraduate student at UMass Boston majoring in Political Science & International Relations. She is also a member of the Undergraduate Student Senate.