On July 26, Carlos E. Santiago, the Commissioner of Higher Education spoke about new proposed regulations to respond to college closures in Massachusetts. These regulations are aimed at giving the Department of Higher Education more information and tools to deal with colleges at risk of closing, primarily to mitigate the impacts on students. Many of the comments were about preventing closures or recognizing the the broader impacts on the community.
— Steven D. BREWER (@limako) July 26, 2019
I offered the following comments.
Hi. My name is Steve Brewer. I'm a faculty member at UMass Amherst. I also wanted to thank the Department because the Department of Higher Ed is funding the "Bridges" program that I'm teaching in this summer which is taking students from community colleges that are transitioning to the university and providing them with a summer opportunity to be on the University first hand, learn about it, and then transition to begin as students in the fall.
I'm reminded in the conversation today of the parable, that I'm sure most of you have heard, that you see babies floating down the river. We've seen 18 babies floating down the river, and so we're trying to figure out, how can we rescue these babies? Can we pull them out of the water with nets and resuscitate them and do all the things to see if the babies are going to die or not. And, of course, the question we really ought to be asking is why don't we go upriver and see what's throwing the babies into the water. I mean, that's, THAT'S the real problem.
We're looking here at how to rescue institutions rather than thinking about what's causing the institutions to become unstable in the first place. And saying "demographics" is, of course, one part of it. But there are a lot of other pieces that fit into that as well: the fact that we've systematically disinvested in higher education and that inequality is causing people to postpone or not engage in child-rearing at all. There are a whole bunch of factors that are resulting in the decline of higher ed.
And we recognize that your part is to sit there with a net and pull babies out of the water and that's what these regulations are about. But I think all of us need to think about the political advocacy we need to engage in. And, of course, we have the right people here (pointing at Mindy Domb and Jo Comerford) that are fighting that fight on the front lines. But to try to save higher education altogether.
You can also watch the full video.