Photo: Standing room-only crowd in Great Hall at State House on March 1.
(Courtesy of the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education)
Over 600 advocates filled the Great Hall at the State House on March 1 for a rally and speaking program to support the Massachusetts public higher education system. Groups of students, faculty, staff and community members then met with their state senators and representatives to advocate for fully funded campus budgets, the Finish Line Grant, protections for undocumented students and just treatment of adjunct and non-tenure track faculty.
Extensive press coverage is amplifying the hundreds of voices who stood up to defend public higher education last week. Katie Lannan at the State House News Service, which is widely read by legislators and staff, wrote that “the Beacon Hill budget climate… [is] leaving students and families struggling to pay for college vulnerable to another round of tuition and fee increases this fall.”
That’s because Gov. Charlie Baker’s budget proposal underfunds the college and university budget requests by $30 million for the UMass system, $15 million for the State Universities, and $15 for the Community Colleges.
But we already have both Higher Education Committee Chairs, Rep. John Scibak and Sen. Michael Moore, on record saying they want to increase those numbers to avoid tuition and fee hikes.
“The reality is that unless we’re able to structure things in such a way that students get financial aid and are able to go,” Scibak said.
“It’s got to be something that they can afford and not be crippling for the rest of their life,” Moore said.
The Lowell Sun Editorial Board is asking “Does Beacon Hill want quality, affordable college?”
Now we need to follow up and keep the pressure on the Governor and the State Legislature to fund and support public higher education.
(1) Ongoing: PHENOM Legislative Call-In Campaign (link)
PHENOM is running an ongoing legislative call-in campaign to keep the pressure on legislators to meet our asks from yesterday and build a high-quality, debt-free public higher education system for EVERYONE in Massachusetts.
(2) March 28: PHENOM’s Spring 2017 General Assembly Meeting (link)
PHENOM is hosting our Spring General Assembly Meeting from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. on March 28. We will be discussing how to build on our successful Advocacy Day and where we want to go from here. There will be a physical meeting at Bristol Community College and a call-in line for people who cannot make it to BCC.
We’re already making a difference.
If we keep up the pressure and make sure our legislators are listening, we will make public higher ed more affordable in Massachusetts and help students and working families who are struggling.