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Harvard Grad Council to Co-Author Bill Subsidizing Grad Student MBTA Fares

Fare machines line an area before the turnstiles at Harvard Station. The Harvard Graduate Council will co-author a state bill to offer reduced MBTA fares to Massachusetts graduate students.
Fare machines line an area before the turnstiles at Harvard Station. The Harvard Graduate Council will co-author a state bill to offer reduced MBTA fares to Massachusetts graduate students. By Briana Howard Pagán
By Adina R. Lippman and Angelina J. Parker, Crimson Staff Writers

The Harvard Graduate Council passed a resolution to co-author a bill reducing MBTA fares for Massachusetts graduate students in partnership with State Representative Mike L. Connolly and the Boston Graduate Federation at a meeting Monday night.

The bill also pledges to “continue to support initiatives regarding expanding housing and transportation options for graduate students.”

Originally proposed by Matthew G. O’Brien, a student at the Harvard Extension School and co-chair of the Boston Graduate Federation — which he said was an inter-school advocacy organization representing 44 colleges and universities in the greater Boston area — the resolution gained four new HGC sponsors before passing.

According to Connolly, who served on Massachusetts’ Joint Committee on Housing and has previously cosponsored bills in support of students, the bill will most likely be considered by the Massachusetts State Legislature in fall 2024.

Connolly also encouraged HGC students to directly lobby the MBTA for subsidized fares.

“On the specific resolution regarding transportation cost reduction, another idea that comes to mind is that the MBTA has a management board,” Connolly said during the meeting. “They’re a very open sort and they hear testimony from all kinds of advocates and city officials.”

“Another possibility here would be for us collectively to engage that board directly and talk to them about the desire for this,” Connolly said.

In particular, Connolly pointed to a new plan for low income fares — set to be introduced for the first time this summer — which he said will “introduce equity into fares.”

During the meeting, Connolly spoke about growing up in public housing and foster care. A short Q&A followed his introduction, during which Connolly encouraged the HGC to advocate for initiatives supporting student well-being in collaboration with elected officials.

“If the graduate council wants to take certain positions and publicly announce them, I think that can add some momentum around a different bill,” Connolly said.

“The basic way to do it is decide what it is you want to advocate for, and then make a plan to meet with your legislators,” he added. “Just have that conversation — I think that’s the one tried and true way.”

HGC, in collaboration with the Boston Graduate Federation, plans to hold a lobbying event at Beacon Hill in the coming weeks to advocate for graduate student welfare.

The Boston Graduate Federation also plans to release a slate of six to nine other bills related to graduate student life in partnership with Massachusetts state legislators later this year.

—Staff writer Adina R. Lippman can be reached at adina.lippman@thecrimson.com.

—Staff writer Angelina J. Parker can be reached at angelina.parker@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @angelinajparker.

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City PoliticsTransportationMetroFront Photo FeatureHarvard Graduate Council