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UMass Boston occupiers move their encampment outdoors

Posted by Patrick Rosso  March 14, 2012 12:29 PM

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(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2012)

In Video: Students and supporters explain why they are occupying UMass Boston.

By Patrick D. Rosso, Town Correspondent

After camping out in their campus center for 50 days, the Occupy UMass Boston University of Massachusetts Boston movement has shifted outside.

Wednesday marked the third day the group has claimed a spot on the school’s plaza in a military tent that was used as a kitchen during Occupy Boston's encampment downtown. They city cleared out the downtown encampment in December.

“We’ve been talking with the administration and decided to take the movement outside,” said Matthew Gauvain, 29, a UMass Boston student originally from Lynn.

There were about 10 occupiers in the encampment Wednesday morning and the administration at the school has made no move to evict them. Students occupying the campus plaza described their relationship with the administration as “good”.

“We are in negotiations and talks all the time [with the administration] and that’s a lot different compared to other occupations,” said Stephanie Fail, 24, a UMass Boston student originally from Saugus.

The occupiers even have an agreement from the administration that says the university supports the Occupy UMass Boston students to move their encampment to an outdoor location.
An e-mail school officials sent to the group said the plaza was the safest of the options available. "Finally, as we have the entire semester, we agreed the that encampment would not damage any University property,” said the e-mail, provided to Boston.com by the occupiers.

School officials could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday.

While their location has changed, occupiers said their message of affordable education and a more open administration hasn’t changed.

“If students don’t run the school, who will?” Fail asked. “The budget is being slashed, tax revenue is falling and we are told there is no money. Why don’t they see the value in our education?”

Last year the University of Massachusetts approved a 7.5-percent increase in student fees, raising the price for a semester at UMass Boston in spring 2012 to $6,613.50 for in-state students.

Currently a semester for a non-resident undergrad students at UMass Boston costs $13,373.50.

To further gather support and spread their message, students and supporters from Occupy Boston are holding an “American Spring Break” Thursday, Friday, and Saturday on campus.

“We want to open up the movement to other groups and share and learn from one another,” Gauvain said.

The event will feature a DIY Film Festival, teach-ins, and will work to connect the group with other occupations happening across New England.

Occupiers also highlighted the interest students have been showing in the movement.

“Some are shocked when they see us and others pretend to not see us,” Fail said. “But students are showing interest and student leaders are coming out and approaching us looking to integrate.”

E-mail Patrick D. Rosso, patrick.d.rosso@gmail.com. Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2012)

A look inside the groups' military tent set up on the campus' plaza.

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