Universities… big profits and free land… our youth pay - FamilyEducation

Universities… big profits and free land… our youth pay

February 12,2009
Talia's Blog
Talia Rivera

Talia Rivera is a 33-year-old mother of two. As Executive Director of Villages without Walls, she works with high-risk gang members in Boston. [Read more]

Yesterday, I met with over 30 youth workers from various grassroots organizations to discuss how to close Massachusetts’s 3.5 billion dollar budget gap without our services being slashed. As we discussed ways to generate new revenue, the notion that universities are nonprofits fanned my flames. Did you know that 52% of Boston's land is nontaxable property?!?! It’s occupied by hospitals and universities. Youth workers are moving quickly, convening meetings with our youth and families, writing letters to Boston’s congressional delegation, and sitting in meetings with state representatives – all to plead, beg, and beseech that the summer job fund and the violence prevention money not be cut. Meanwhile, I read in the Annual Report of Harvard University, "The University's fiscal 2008 operating SURPLUS was $17.4 million. Revenue rose 8% to $3.5 billion...." "Wow," I said to myself, although I’m really not surprised or shocked. But wait, there is more: "[Income from students] increased 4%, totaling $682.0 million in fiscal 2008. Revenue from both undergraduate and graduate tuition rose 3%...." Why is it that the profits of untaxable nonprofits like Harvard University are increasing, while a real nonprofit, like the Lewis D. Brown Peace Institute, is on its last legs? The Boston Herald reported in a recent article, "If their properties were taxable, the institutions would be writing checks for…between $350 and $400 million each year….” Why is it that our youth are the first to be shot down? No wonder so many of them take pleasure in shooting – they’re used to it.