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FSU Members and UMB Students Speak Out Against Tuition and Fee Increases

The FSU and other unions on campus, along with UMB students, are speaking out against the Board of Trustee's decision to raise fees and against the rising tide of student debt. You can see coverage of this issue here, here, and here.

FSU Marlene Kim spoke to the BOT about these issues at their September 16, 2015 meeting. Her comments are below:

Faculty Staff Union President Marlene Kim’s remarks to the UMass Board of Trustees. 

Sept 16, 2015.  Campus Center Ballroom.  UMass Boston.  

Welcome to UMass Boston.  I’m the President of the Faculty Staff Union at UMass Boston. 

I want to thank Marty Meehan for doing the right thing and agreeing to pay our retroactive raises.  We know it was not an easy thing to do, so we appreciate it. 

We know you want to work with the faculty and staff on UMass campuses, so I want to talk about how we can do this. 

I am a labor economist.  Research shows that if you treat employees well, we will go the distance for you.  This means that if you are giving us pay increases, we should not have to give back benefits as your predecessor insisted we do.  We should not have give up benefits because the private sector does not have these.  We should have the best personnel practices, not devolve to the worst ones.  We should not be threatened with having our pay increases disappear if we don’t settle by a certain time, and then not receive these pay increases. 

We know you want to do better than this, and we look forward to working with you.

Faculty are supposed to have primary say in academic and personnel matters.  Our voice has diminished over the years.  We look forward to working with you on this issue. 

We know you support private-public partnerships.  This makes sense when it is about training, so that the private sector can help train our students for jobs.  It makes less sense for the private sector to provide services to faculty, staff, and students because the private sector will want to make profit on these services.  This means that we will have to pay more for things like parking or other services we need in order to do our jobs.  

We ask that the private sector not make profits on our working conditions that are necessary for us to do our jobs.  We also ask that we have a voice in these decisions since this affects our work environment.    

These cost increases also harm students as well.  They can barely afford their expenses now. 

For this reason, the recent fee and tuition increases hurt students.  I see this in my classes.  One student had no heat.  One had no winter shoes.  Some are hungry.  Many work so many hours to afford the costs of college, they don’t have the time, or they are too tired, to do their homework or write their papers. 

Financial aid does not always cover these increased expenses. Not everyone qualifies for financial aid.  Many students fall through the cracks:  Their parents don’t pay, don’t pay enough, or can’t pay what the State says they are supposed to afford.   

I was one of these students.  I fell through the cracks.  I worked many hours through college.  I was tired from working; I was hungry.  If you’re tired and hungry, you can’t perform well in school.  I did this back when the state covered most of the costs of college. 

I could not go to college now.  I couldn’t afford it.  I would not have a college degree and a Ph.D. from a public university; I would not be a full Professor. 

Many students are like me.  Many are standing here in this room.  They want and need a college education. 

At a time when a college degree is more important than ever to enter or stay in the middle class, we are slamming the door shut on them. 

We ask you to give these students a chance by keeping UMass affordable.  Not everyone receives financial aid who is needy.  Not everyone qualifies.  Not every parent pays for college; not every parent can pay when the State thinks they can. 

Let’s keep the dream of college alive in Massachusetts and keep our urban mission a reality.