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    UMass Boston battles budget woes

    Given debt woes of UMass system, why is Boston campus singled out?

    RE “UMass Boston campus in a bind” by Laura Krantz (Page A1, March 19): Given the heavy debt load of every campus in the University of Massachusetts system, one has to ask the question: Why is UMass Boston being singled out? To what extent is UMass Boston merely the most grievous example of reckless physical expansion?

    A thorough examination of the debt that has been accrued as a result of the significant physical expansion these last 10 years on all the campuses, and the subsequent massive debt confronting UMass as a system, seems more than called for. We should insist that UMass Boston not be used as a sacrificial offering to mask or disguise a larger systemwide problem.

    Frederick P. Sperounis


    The writer is a retired executive vice chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

    Soaring tuition costs are part of issue

    In 1973 I was a member of the entering class of UMass Boston’s new College of Public and Community Service. I was a 25-year-old college dropout with a widowed mother back in Vermont, who could provide me with only limited support to continue my education. But in-state tuition in those days was $300 a year. I was able to depend upon my modest savings and the additional aid of work-study plus a small scholarship or two to make it through the program and graduate in three years.


    Now I read in the Globe that in-state tuition has soared to $13,400 in the time since I left (“UMass Boston campus in a bind”). The article also notes that 71 percent of its undergraduates receive financial aid. Given this steep rise in tuition, however, I must wonder if I could possibly repeat what I did four decades ago, even with the most generous assistance?

    John Kyper


    Toxic environment
    surrounding Africana studies

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    The March 1 article written by John Hilliard (“UMass students decry changes in Africana studies”) portrays a balanced report on the standing-room-only crowd that listened for hours last month to the concerns of students, faculty, staff, and community residents regarding the toxic environment surrounding the Africana studies department. Repeatedly, speakers addressed the exceptional work being done by faculty members and the department’s poor treatment by the administration.

    The two UMass Boston faculty members who wrote in response to the article (“UMass carried out fair process in review of Africana studies department,” Letters, March 3), neither of whom was present at the forum last month, presented what seemed like thinly veiled support to shore up the dean of the College of Liberal Arts.

    Here is what we have observed: Currently, the department is having offices closed, phone lines reduced, access to photocopy materials curtailed, and student courses abruptly interrupted weeks into the semester. Students, faculty, staff, and concerned community members have been seeking a just resolution to stabilize this important program. We hope that all who wish to help facilitate a positive solution to these issues at UMass Boston will become informed and participate in an open dialogue.

    Yvette Modestin

    Bill Owens

    William Strickland


    Modestin is a community organizer, Owens is a former Massachusetts state senator, and Strickland is a professor emeritus in the Afro-American studies department at
    UMass Amherst.