University of Massachusetts Boston students, faculty and staff walked out on Tuesday afternoon to protest the controversial acquisition of Mount Ida College by UMass Amherst, as a $32.9 million deficit continues to plague the Dorchester campus.
The decision was largely kept under wraps, and many UMass Boston students and faculty have been in an uproar as classes and programs continue to be cut at their institution.
“We felt like it was a complete show of disrespect and disregard for the UMass Boston campus,” said Katie Mitrano, undergraduate student body president.
The University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees entered into an agreement with Mount Ida on April 6 to absorb the private liberal arts school in Newton, and allow former Mount Ida students to complete their degrees at UMass Dartmouth.
The noontime rally at UMass Boston drew about 100 people the school’s plaza, Mitrano said.She is hoping for more student actions to protest the Mount Ida decision.
“I think if they want to fix the wrongs they made, they should reverse the deal,” Mitrano said by telephone after the rally. “If they want to keep disrespecting us and playing politics, we’ll play it right back with them. We’re so sick and tired of the board of trustees and the president disrespecting us.”
Mitrano said she plans to attend the trustees’ meeting on May 30 to ask the board to reconsider the decision.
“They’re going to make decisions about our campus without informing the students and if they won’t let us voice or grievances, then shame on them,” she said.
Others think it’s too late to reverse what’s already been done, but have other ideas about what should happen moving forward.
“I think the time for negotiating with the board is done,” said Christopher Simon a senior majoring in international relations and Africana studies.“I think, we the students, need to elect a board of trustees for UMass Boston. The president [said] that these campuses operate independently. If that’s the case, we deserve to run our own place.”
Simon said he’s seen a number of cuts to classes and staff – and at times, entire programs. He’s often worried the Africana studies degree he’s spent the last four years working on is in jeopardy.
“We want to see more stability on campus and more transparency,” Simon said. “The board owes us that. A lot of the things that happen on campus are surprising. We read about them in the paper and that’s how we find out.”