• Mount Ida alum using hearse to send message on merger

    By: Crystal Haynes

    Updated:

    A hearse covered in writing is traveling across the state asking officials to stop a controversial deal to sell Mount Ida College.

    In Worcester, funeral home director Peter Stefan says he was outraged hearing stories of hardship from students displaced in the controversial $70 million Mount Ida deal with UMass Amherst.

    "The only thing I could think of is Mount Ida College was being buried. And the only way I could get that point across is to put it on a hearse," said Stefan. 

    MORE: Mount Ida faces Board of Ed amid ire over sale to UMass

    Stefan, a Mount Ida alum who has trained its students in mortuary science, covered a $100,000 hearse with a call to action to state legislators and state university officials. He asked part-time staffer Stephen Lantz to take it out, with the ultimate goal of forcing officials to agree to a two-year "teach out."

    "The courses aren't the same. The credits aren't the same. The programs aren't the same. So my attitude was leave it there until there was a teach out and most of the students were covered. All the students were covered," said Stefan.

    MORE: Mount Ida student worried about her career amid UMass acquisition

    Lantz actually takes the hearse out up to 14 hours a day and the plan is to take it to every major college campus in the state. 

    "Unlike a police car or firetruck, people see a hearse and give varied reactions from people blessing themselves, to turning away. When they see a message, they're gonna stop and read it and if they see a message that UMass buries Mount Ida students, that's powerful," said Lantz. 

    MORE: UMass Boston students call Mount Ida merger a "slap in the face"

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