FRAMINGHAM – My name is Jake Binnall. I am a 2016 graduate of Framingham High School, and am currently pursuing my Master’s at UMass Amherst.
I am writing today as a call to action, a request for assistance, in the fight for student enfranchisement on the UMass Board of Trustees.
In my graduating class alone, over 20 families sent their child to a UMass campus. The UMass system educates many Framingham students every year. This means every year, more and more Framingham families are impacted by decisions made by the UMass Board of Trustees.
Many may not know what the Board of Trustees is or what they do. They are the governing body of the entire University system, voting on things such as tuition and fees, certain campus policies, the creation of new majors and programs, assessing levels of student support, voting on tenure, and so forth. The decisions made by this board impact the everyday lives of students at all 5 UMass campuses, and they impact the wallets of the whole family.
Out of the 22 member Board, only 5 are directly impacted by the decisions made by the Board.
There are only 5 people on the Board directly representing the students and families of the UMass system. Out of those 5, only 2 are allowed to vote each year.
These five individuals are the elected Student Trustees, one representing each UMass campus.
Yet, each year, the majority of UMass system students do not have direct voting representation on the Board. These 5 students are elected to be the voice for their campus, but three of them each year don’t have the power to do so.
In 1971, the Massachusetts State Legislature passed legislation entitled “An Act Providing For A Student Representative From Each Campus to be Elected to the Board of Trustees of the University of Massachusetts.”
When there were two campuses, the right to vote was created for two student trustees. Now that there are five campuses, there should be five student votes.
As the System has expanded, the voting representation should have expanded with it.
Not only was this law passed establishing a voting student member for each campus, but then-Governor Sargent penned a declaration that this legislation is emergent and therefore effective immediately upon passing.
When Student Trustees were created by this legislature in 1971, immediate and full student representation was made a commitment by this Commonwealth.
As a Commonwealth, we have a history of being pioneers and leaders in student empowerment and leadership, as well as democracy itself. We should not continue to regress in our commitment to these principles. Instead, we should return to our 1971 commitment.
Right now, we have the chance to fix this.
Please help support not only the Framingham students and families of the UMass system, but help the students and families from across the Commonwealth and around the world by writing to the Joint Committee on Higher Education and our State Senator – Senate President Karen Spilka, urging support for this bill (H.1222).
To do so easily, we are hosting our letter campaign here:
Let’s do what’s right for students and families: Five Campuses, Five Votes!
UMass Amherst | Student Trustee