Holub vs. Abby and Sharla

Dear Abby and Sharla,

I’ve written to you several times over the last few months to try to
keep you posted on the ongoing fiscal crisis here at UMass Amherst and
how we as a university community are responding to it.

There has been speculation and assertions made about the budget plans
that, frankly, aren’t accurate. Today, I want to tell you what we know
about the current budget situation, and to provide you with as many
facts as I can. It is critically important that we as a university
community communicate openly and honestly, and work together to face the
serious challenges ahead. As you know, we’ve created a Budget Planning
Task Force of faculty, students and staff to assist in this process and
to make recommendations – and they have been hard at work discussing
budget cuts, fee increases, reorganization plans, potential layoffs, and
other issues tied to the upcoming budget year. I expect to receive
additional recommendations from this group soon and will, of course,
share with you my decisions on how we go forward.


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Trustees Vote to Raise Fees $1500


Amid student protest, University of Massachusetts Trustees voted 12-4 this morning to increase student fees by $1,500 for the coming academic year. The hike represents a 17.6 percent spike in fees for UMass, Amherst students.

UMass, Amherst has begun laying off faculty and staff. In addition, Chancellor Holub anticipates an approximately 7% decrease in the number of graduate teaching assistants. A campus reorganization plan now being considered will merge and close departments and transfer money and support to those departments most likely to attract government and business support.

In the words of Chancellor Holub, students at UMass Amherst may expect:

  • An increase in the overall student population at both the undergraduate and graduate level. We will have to work strategically with these increases. Some programs have excess capacity already. Others can expand their capacity without significantly increasing costs by dealing creatively with the delivery of instruction. Some programs that offer professional degrees may want to increase differentially their fees. By building the campus through quality programs, we will be able to ensure a steady source of revenue.
  • A move toward a model of moderate fees and restructured financial aid. The costs currently borne by students for their education at UMass Amherst is a fraction of what their peers pay for education at private institutions in the state, and the quality is every bit as good. By raising tuition and fees moderately for the student body as a whole, and returning a more significant portion of the revenues to financial aid, we can continue our obligation to educate anyone who merits admission based on accomplishment and promise, while at the same time maintaining a quality education for everyone.
  • We will also be seeking to attract more international and out-of-state students. While we will maintain our student numbers for the citizens of the Commonwealth, we will want to provide them with exposure to students with a great variety of experiences in terms of cultural background, geographical location, and intellectual interests. The shift in admissions orientation will have the dual benefit of securing additional resources for the institution and exposing students to a greater diversity.

In short: pay more and get a lot less.

GSS walks to UMass Dartmouth to protest increased fees


GSS (Graduate Student Senate) and UMass grad students propose to
protest the UMass fee increase by walking 110 miles over a four day
period. We will walk from UMass Amherst at Haigis Mall at 9am on
Monday, February 23rd, and we will arrive at the Board of Trustees
meeting at the UMass Dartmouth campus on Friday the 27th. We see our
journey as a physical representation of the struggles that students
will face if the fee increases are ratified — an increase of $1,500
for Undergraduate students and up to $1,020 for Graduates.

We need your support. We are not asking for you to join us on our
walk, rather, to meet us and add your voice to ours at the Board of
Trustees meeting at UMass Dartmouth on Friday, February 27, at 9am.
There are buses available, leaving from Haigis Mall at 5am


This is in all of our best interests. There is a significant chance that this
fee increase is not necessary, that President Obama’s stimulus package
will make up for UMass’s massive deficit. The actual amounts
available to UMass from the stimulus package will be revealed over the
next couple of months, but the Board has chosen to vote to try to
increase fees regardless of this possibility…and the cold fact is
this: Fees never go back down. Once this increase is implemented, it
will become a way of life for us. We must stop it now.

Once again, the buses to the Board of Trustees leave Haigis Mall at
6am on Friday, February 27, 2009, and will return to Amherst by 1pm.
Meet us at the Board of Trustees meeting…with water.

For our complete schedule and for updates from the road, see:
our website – umassgss.org
our twitter – twitter.com/UMASSGSS
our facebook – facebook.com/home.php?#/group.php?gid=49073237425

Bargaining Update

O% Pay Raise

GEO returned to the bargaining table last Monday February 2, heading
into our 8th month of negotiations. The University presented GEO with
a wage proposal on September 25th which included a three year contract
with an annual 2.5% pay increase. After consulting the membership,
GEO accepted this original offer, which the University, in light of
the progressive economic crisis refused to discuss. Susan Chinman,
the Universities Chief Negotiator refused to bargain over economic
issues up until the winter break.

Upon returning Monday, the university presented us with new economic
perimeters, officially withdrawing the original offer. The new offer
included a three year contract–with stipend “increases” as follows:
Effective August 31st, 2008, stipends increase in the amount of 0%, as
of August 30, 2009 stipends increase by 1.5%, and effective September
5, 2010 stipends will increase by 2.5%.

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