The Maryland Higher Education Equity Act is a plan to provide universal higher education for all Marylanders, paid for with a Pollution, Inequality, and War (PIW) tax, so the polluters, the rich, and those who profit from war pay their fair share for a crucial need in our state. The bill was written by a coalition of local education experts and advocates, University System of Maryland students and alumni, and members of the Green Party.
1. Provide tuition-free University System of Maryland and community colleges for all Maryland high school graduates. Provide tuition-free graduate school for descendants of enslaved African Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives. Subsidize room, board, and books for descendants of enslaved African Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives.
2. Increase funding for adult continuing education to make 100% of staff positions full-time.
3. Return Baltimore City Community College to Baltimore City control with dedicated state funds and increase state per-pupil funding at community colleges to 50 cents of every per-pupil allocation at University System of Maryland institutions, indexed for additional funds based on City or county concentrations of poverty.
4. Pay a living wage ($20/hr, pegged to increase with cost of living index) to graduate student employees and university employees, and respect their right to unionize without intimidation.
5. Ensure all campuses are environmentally sustainable, with a) each college president submitting a five year plan in 2019 and a ten year plan in 2020 for revamping the electricity, heating, transportation, waste, and food systems, as well as purchasing office practices. Goals should include a b) 50% per capita reduction in energy demand, c) combustion-free energy systems, a d) 90% reduction in per capita waste generation, e) no campus waste going to incinerators by 2022, f) zero waste programs following the Zero Waste Hierarchy, g) food systems that are plant-based, local, and organic, h) divestment from fossil fuels and prison labor, and i) tree cut-replanted ratio.
6. Mandate a) a 1 credit class for all USM schools on sexual violence and health that addresses structural misogyny for all freshmen with curriculum written by a panel of internal and external experts and monitored by an independent state-level department within MHEC, b) establishment of a sexual health center that is separate from the Title IX office and provides ongoing support and resources by paid student and staff employees, c) training all mandated reporters about trauma literacy and how to support survivors in the process of referring them to the Title IX office, d) requirement to have trained advocates to work with survivors who do choose to pursue cases against perpetrators of violence, and e) dedicated funding for additional, regular public programming organized by students with funding and support from personnel.
7. Designate all USM colleges, universities, and facilities ICE non-compliant sanctuary spaces and mandate non-compliance training for all university police and security personnel.
8. Close duplication of degree programs at HWCUs near similar programs at HBCUs.