Sam Virzi: Students paying the price, at what cost?

Published: 8/12/2019 10:43:57 AM

I am happy to read that the commonwealth and university officials have reached an agreement on how to fund this upcoming academic year for the UMass system. It’s a good thing they figured out how to meet the expectations of incoming students.

It fills me with a grim foreboding that the balance of their compromise is up to the students to pay, and I see I’m not alone. I want to put here, in the context of the Fed slashing interest rates when housing is at pre-recession prices, what the members of the board have said in referencing downward trends in revenue and enrollment as “clouds on the horizon.”

We live in a blue state that reliably elects Republican governors. I watched what happened to the University of Montana, and what is now happening to the University of Alaska, and I can’t be the only person who lives here who worries that it could happen here.

This is the fifth straight year UMass has raised tuition, yes, and we are now several generations deep into a status quo where colleges and universities have to offset state budget cuts by raising tuition and fees. This has been attended by a rise in the temporary workforce across every academic discipline, a steady decline in enrollment in humanities majors, and dramatically shortened career prospects for STEM graduates.

UMass Amherst is a good school. The people have made it so in spite of vast obstacles, and the people are the commonwealth. If the commonwealth wants to provide a world-class education the people can afford, it has the power to raise taxes to pay the cost.

Sam Virzi

Northampton

The author is an alumnus and lecturer at UMass Amherst.




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