The Amherst Town Council voted at its Feb. 5 meeting to pass a resolution supporting the Cherish Act. This came on the heels of Boston being the first city in Massachusetts to approve a resolution supporting this act, as part of a campaign by the Higher Ed for All coalition to move similar resolutions through cities and towns across Massachusetts.
The Cherish Act would establish a blueprint for a world-class system of public higher education in Massachusetts. Its pillars include fully funded community colleges, state universities and UMass campuses; fair wages and working conditions for full-time and adjunct higher ed faculty and staff; adequate support for students of all backgrounds; and green and healthy buildings.
Several community members spoke in support of the Cherish Act resolution at the council meeting.
Karen Hakala, a recent retiree, spoke about her affordable education at UMass Amherst.
“I was the first in my family to graduate with a college degree, earning both an undergraduate and a graduate degree at UMass when education was still affordable,” Hakala said. “This enabled me to start my professional career without debt. Contrast this to the current situation where students are saddled with enormous debt, their futures are compromised and it cripples their ability to survive and thrive.”
Community member Joe Connelly spoke about how the proposed legislation would alleviate the financial burden on students and on public universities.
“The Cherish Act would transfer some financial burden off UMass students and off UMass Amherst. By offering some relief to campus students, frontline staff, support staff and faculty, the act directly and indirectly benefits Amherst. The state monies are there through Fair Share revenues. The intent to use these resources to address issues of equity and access deserves our support. Please vote to signal Amherst support for the Cherish Act.”
Higher Education for All is a statewide coalition of students, labor unions, grassroots organizations and others advocating for fully funded community colleges, state universities and UMass campuses.
Urge your legislators to support the Cherish Act
The Cherish Act, filed by Senator Jo Comerford (D-Northampton), Representative Sean Garballey (D-Arlington) and Representative Pat Duffy (D-Holyoke), would establish a blueprint for a world-class system of public higher education that is urgently needed to meet widely shared goals in the Commonwealth.
Please email your legislators right away and urge them to heed the call of their constituents and prioritize the passage of the Cherish Act this legislative session.