Massachusetts Updates:

The fight for Mt Ida students is not over

By dismissing the lawsuit by former students of the now-closed Mount Ida College, a Federal judge has set some dangerous precedents. The ruling establishes that college officials do not owe students any fiduciary duty to reveal their institution’s financial struggles, and that colleges have no contractual obligations with students to have them complete the degree. Our founder, Bob Hildreth, who financed the lawsuit, found this ruling appalling “not just for the hundreds of students who were harmed by Mount Ida’s fraud and violations of trust, but for all college students in Massachusetts.” Citing the landmark ruling that allowed escaped slaves to be returned to slavery, he explained that “The Dred Scott case may have been rightly decided under the law, but the judge missed the bigger picture.”

Students demand Debt-Free College, The state underfunds UMass requiring a tuition freeze

It all started with UMass president Marty Meehan making it clear that there will be a tuition increase of 2.5% if lawmakers did not include the full $568.3 million funding request in their 2020 budget. The situation escalated when the Senate Ways and Means Committee released it budget with an appropriation of $10 million short of Meehan’s request and with new language stipulating that the university shall also freeze tuition. Politicians state that they have steadily increased funding to UMass, which should enable them to freeze tuition this year. However, with the severe disinvestment we experience in MA, data shows that state support for UMass has still not reach the levels of 2001.

Meanwhile, last week, PHENOM student activists from UMassAmherst staged a 5 day sit-in outside the offices of Beacon Hill’s legislative leaders, rallying support for the Debt Free Future Act and Cherish Act. After some tense moments at the State House, students ended their sit-in, frustrated by legislative inaction but determined to continue organizing and building student power across Massachusetts to demand affordable, ZeroDebt degrees.

UMass Gaston Institute gets $1 million donation

Bob Hildreth speaking at the event hosted by Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy

From finances in the red to leadership mistakes, little has gone right for the University of Massachusetts Boston. As Boston’s signature public university, where 50% of the students are low-income and diverse, our founder, Bob Hildreth believes that UMASS Boston is too important for us to let the slide continue.

In hope of motivating gifts from others, Bob and Diane Hildreth have donated $1 million to UMass. Specifically, the gift is for the University’s Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy, which along with all other institutes has been targeted for severe belt tightening and even possible closure.

Bob and Diane Hildreth

Hopefully, this gift will prompt the university leaders to hit the pause button on their ill-considered plan. The Gaston Institute is vital to UMass’ supposed mission of research, teaching and commitment to Boston’s large Latino population.

Last month, Bob was up at the State House testifying in support of a program called the Endowment Match Program, which would incentivize private donors like him to invest in our public colleges and universities by matching their donations with public funds. Massachusetts already successfully implemented this strategy in the 1990s, and it was a great success. We can do it again and attract millions of dollars in additional funding for public higher education. There is no greater investment in the future of Massachusetts than an investment in public higher education for our students!

Read our latest issue paper on the success of this program.

Other MA news:

$1M gift to advance LatinX Studies at UMass Boston

Debt ‘carnival’ highlights high college costs

Boston teachers would get 2 percent pay raises under contract deal

Hundreds of teachers, students rally in Springfield for better education funding

‘Fund Our Future’ rally at Springfield City Hall

As UMass’ costs rise, lawmakers try a new tactic: increase funding but demand a tuition freeze

Marty Meehan huffs and puffs over budget impasse

UMass students hold sit-in at State House

UMass objections to tuition freeze fall flat in Senate

College student sit-in comes to loud, tense end

No Free College and We Can’t Conduct A Sit-In at the House Speaker’s Office?

Newbury College Is Closing. Alumni Say It Gave Them A Chance