For a few minutes on Monday night, the Cambridge City Council meeting looked more like a poetry slam.
“My love for this UB family ain’t about me. It’s about we,” the enthusiastic high school bard recited. “When the going gets tough and the game gets rough, I can lean on my sisters and brothers.”
The poet made his appearance on behalf of Upward Bound, a program run by MIT and Wellesley which offers a demanding academic program in a college setting for students at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. He and many of his classmates, teachers, and program alumni packed Sullivan Hall to appeal for funding from the city to fill the gap left by federal budget cuts.
Without the City Council, they said, the program must end.
“This is a do-or-die moment,” Council member Kenneth E. Reeves ’72 characterized the decision.
Though some councillors expressed concern about retaining grants that would support the roughly $400,000 annual expenditure in the future, the order to rescue the program carried unanimously, 9-0.
One student, a senior at Cambridge Rindge and Latin, said that she and her fellow students were devastated when they heard the program would be closed due to lack of funding. “A handful of senior girls and myself began to panic in a way I’d never seen before then,” she said, urging the Council to intervene. “Only when we are allowed to learn without restraints are we able to live our lives to the fullest.”
When the poet took the podium, Cambridge Democratic City Committee Ward 1 Chair Joseph Aiello felt moved to speak too. “Try to get these kids some funding because I am sitting over here in tears listening to these kids talk,” he said.