Remarks to the Committee of the Whole, Board of Trustees Meeting, 4/12/17, UMass Boston
Sixty classes were cancelled for this summer, even though most filled and made money for the university. The university never discussed this with departments and faculty. Many courses fulfill requirements for majors. Courses have been and are being cancelled for the fall. Many are required for majors, many fill up, and so many pay for themselves and generate revenue for the university. Forty summer classes have now been reinstated through an agreement with my union. But cuts for the fall have not been finalized.
Faculty are advising students to take courses that no longer exist. Some faculty have yet to be told they won’t be here in the fall.
Some faculty cannot make handouts for students; some can’t make any photocopies.
There’s less education and research. We cannot perform our jobs. We can’t educate our students. You are not preserving our teaching and education mission on campus.
In three business days, we collected 400 signatures protesting these cuts, the lack of transparency in the budget and budget-cutting process, and the lack of faculty input in course cancellations.
UMass Boston is a special place. Most of our students are racial minorities. Most are first generation college students and English language learners. Our students have complicated lives. They work, so some can only take night classes or online classes. Others can only take classes on certain times or days of the week.
Reducing the number of classes makes their lives impossible. Eliminating classes they need to graduate or that are required for their majors is detrimental. It reduces retention rates and prolongs time to graduation. This is not the direction we want to go.
UMass is healthy as a whole. It can afford to help us out with no effect on its financial standing or bond ratings. You helped Lowell and Amherst when they were building. Why can’t you help us? We’re asking you to ask the state to fully fund our utility corridor, substructure, and new buildings. Because when this campus was originally build in the 1970s, it was constructionally unsound. We desperately need new buildings to replace these faulty ones. But new buildings should not be built on the backs of students, who are least able to afford this. Students should not pay the cost through higher fees and less education.
We ask you to allow us to teach our classes and students we love so we can continue to educate students in the Commonwealth who need us the most.
Update: Two hundred people protested at this Board of Trustees Meeting. As a result, all classes in the summer were reinstated and departments were again given primary authority to schedule classes. Less than ten were cancelled for the entire summer (and many of these were cancelled because after faculty were were told these classes were cancelled, these faculty made alternative plans and were no longer available). But cancellations proceed–with fall classes that normally fill or being required for majors being cut. Please sign our petition protesting these cuts, the lack of faculty and department say in scheduling classes, and the lack of transparency in the budget and budget-cutting process at http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/protest-course-cancellations?source=c.em.mt&r_by=15751927
Marlene Kim, Professor of Economics and President, Faculty Staff Union, UMass Boston