UMass wants to silence us

University officials are trying to limit free speech at UMass Boston with their decision to freeze the budget of the International Socialist Organization's campus chapter. Claiming such offenses as posting violations, the administration is also threatening to revoke the club's status. In this statement, ISO members urge fellow students to protest the university's plans to silence dissent against at UMass.

ACTIVISTS IN the International Socialist Organization (ISO) are asking for solidarity in our fight to defend free speech and student organizing at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Boston. University officials' charges of "mismanagement of funds" and "posting violations" have resulted in our group's funds being confiscated, making it impossible to organize events on campus.

The ISO isn't the only student group that faces bureaucratic obstacles to organizing on this working-class campus. Publicizing events at UMass Boston can be tremendously difficult because of the administration's posting policy, which restricts the number of flyers that can be put up to just 55 and the area where they can be posted.

In addition, UMass' funding system requires that student clubs plan the details of an entire semester's schedule before the semester starts. If a student group hopes to respond to changing events in the world or on campus, this rule makes organizing unnecessarily difficult.

It appears that the administration has decided to prioritize penalizing student groups and enforcing restrictions and bureaucracy--just as the Board of Trustees and administration plan to increase student fees.

We believe that the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and the administration are selectively enforcing the rules and, as a result, are targeting student activists and political dissent. This is nothing new, as a pattern of increased harassment has emerged over the last two semesters.

During these semesters, we have been involved in publicizing and challenging the administrations fee hikes and parking fare increases. If these attacks on free speech continue, ISO members fear that this could lead to the complete elimination of the group's club status and funding.

As a result of the public defense campaign we have built and the hundreds of faculty, students, alumni and concerned people around the country who have vocalized their opposition to this attack on free speech and their support for student activism, the USG and administration have changed their tone and are giving us a final meeting to make our case. Every e-mail sent to the administration and every signature on our petition has made a tremendous difference and has put us in a great position to win.

That said, this is not over. Our funds are still frozen, and we are still depending on your solidarity in our efforts to pressure the university to grant us our funds.

Please continue to:

-- Share the petition in support of the ISO through Facebook and e-mail.

-- Write e-mails to Student Events and Organizations Chair Ignacio Chaparro, Student Activities Director Shelby Harris and Chancellor J. Keith Motley.

-- Join us at our final hearing on December 5, at 3 p.m. in Room 3315 of the Campus Center.

While it's very important to us that we get our funds as soon as possible so that we can use them to build upcoming events, this campaign is most importantly about the fight for winning a different kind of university. We need a campus where students have a bigger voice and more power to participate in decision-making. We need a university that encourages critical thinking and political engagement with the world around us.

Students should be rewarded for trying to engage with the issues that are affecting our lives not punished. Winning this campaign would be an important step forward for the possibilities of creating such a school.