UACCESS UMB Open Letter to Student Affairs

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Below is an open letter submitted by UMass Boston's UACCESS students to UMB's Student Affairs Administrators, and Chancellor Mills.  We invite everyone to sign on to this letter, to indicate your support of the UACCESS students' demands, provided below.

Dear Gail DiSabatino, Beth Devonshire, John Silveria, James Overton, Chancellor Barry Mills, and to whom ever else it may concern,  

As you all should be aware, UMASS BOSTON was created to serve minority and low-income students, providing us with a quality education that not only competes with other universities, but enhances our community and community bonds. However, over the years UMASS Boston has been implementing many changes that are the complete opposite of this urban mission and have been a direct attack on the students it promised to serve. One of those changes was the firing of LaToya Shuler on March 23, 2018. This abrupt termination was approved without a single thought to the many students who would be negatively impacted, and without even one student being surveyed on the impact LaToya has had on the lives of UACCESS students, and in running and growing the Center.  Her firing leaves a critical office empty, with no plan to assist or support students, forcing students to take on the task of running and supporting themselves. The U-ACCESS office offers everything the urban mission promises: a community of support for minorities and low -income students, which connects us to resources in our community, providing us the skills and empowerment to lift ourselves from the cycle of poverty.  We question the motive for the firing of Latoya Shuler (it seems to us that a personality clash resulted in abuse of power and control). The students also feel the administration has been degrading, disrespectful and humiliating in the manner they chose to interact with students who utilize this office throughout this series of events. The students have been treated as if we are inferior, without respect, compassion, care or dignity, all of which is unacceptable behavior from our administrators.

These events have led us to question the current administration’s ability to handle an office of this magnitude, and whether they have the cultural competence and understanding of structural and racial oppression to meet the needs of students at a majority-minority institution.  Consequently, we, the students, are demanding the resignation of Gail DiSabatino, Beth Devonshire, John Silveria, and James Overton

We also have demands that resulted from a meeting students called on April 5, 2018 regarding the U-ACCESS office, which are as follows:  

  •  Latoya Shuler be immediately reinstated
  • Adam be fired
  • An advisory board made up of alumni and current students who are participants of U-ACCESS, and faculty/ community members (this advisory board should be involved in any and every decision that has to do with the U-ACCESS office, with our input having veto power) 
  • Involvement in the hiring process from the beginning (allowed to view all resumes and have a say on the candidates that are welcomed for interviews) 
  • Copies of all permits, policies and requirements regarding the U-ACCESS office 
  • Remain in our space (or if we need to move due to more staff we would like the conference room on the second floor in the back to be our new space room 2315
  • New administrators be required to take a training on systemic and institutional racism, run by people of color such as the Africana Studies Department

We thank you for your time and look forward to working with the university as we continue to strive for inclusion, social justice, and assisting our students and university as we hold up our urban mission. We hope that you will restore the confidence of the students in our university’s values of social justice and remain accountable to the most underserved students on this campus.