Students, faculty, staff protest UMass cuts, tuition increase

Credit: Mark Goepel

WORCESTER, Mass. — Students and faculty gathered in Worcester Wednesday to voice their concerns about a possible UMass tuition increase.

They argued that cuts to staff and an increase in tuition would weaken the reputation of the university, and leave students further in debt.

"We're all in this together: the staff, the students, the faculty,” said Peggy Walsh, a professor at UMass Boston.

Barbara Madeloni, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, said she's seen a culture of belt-tightening, but feels the proposed cuts are affecting the wrong end of the institution. One example she provided was the recent layoff of hundreds of adjunct professors at UMass Boston alone.

"You can't lose 400 faculty and provide the same quality provide the same opportunity for relationships and meaningful work,” she said.

Walsh, who teaches at UMass Boston, said she came to Worcester to beg.

"So that cuts are not made by making the lives of the poorest employees and the poorest students, harder.  Cuts need to be made from the top,” said Walsh.

UMass Chancellor Martin Meehan says that cuts are being made from the top down.

“I want you to know that the central office, spending during my first year has been reduced by $3.1 million. Four percent cut as a result of personnel decisions. Adjustments to procurement policies and travel cutbacks,” said Meehan.

Madeloni doesn't think it’s enough and fears the students will be the ones to pay.

“We need to say, as a commonwealth, that we will fully fund these high-quality institutions so that students can come, they can experience and engage their education without leaving with mountains of debt,” she said.

No decision on tuition changes were made and the board said it will wait until they have the chance to review the state budget, when it's released in July.