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Keller @ Large: Outrage Over Speaker Fees At Bunker Hill CC

By Jon Keller, WBZ-TV
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BOSTON (CBS) – Bunker Hill Community College in Charlestown is a blue collar commuter school, where students sometimes attend midnight classes after work in order to get their education.

Resources for students and the part-timers who do most of the teaching are scarce, so it’s no wonder they are outraged about the school’s decision to spend big money on celebrity speakers.

Left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore was at the school last fall as part of an eight-year-old speaker series run by the school’s office of Diversity and Inclusion that often includes big-ticket celebrities.

The school wouldn’t readily disclose what it paid to New York Times columnist Gail Collins, but her standard fee is from $15,000 to $25,000. Documentary-maker Ken Burns commands $40,000 and up. And according to the college, that’s what Michael Moore got, $40,000, plus expenses.

So what’s the big deal? After all, shouldn’t a college campus be a place to hear interesting viewpoints? For some, the more pertinent question is: Shouldn’t the basic needs of students and faculty come first?

“I’m disgusted,” says Mark Damien Carroll, a former Bunker Hill faculty member who says he had to buy basic supplies for his graphic arts students. He’s appalled at the speaking fees.

“It’s absurd,” he says. “You have adjunct professors who can barely get to work and make a living.”

A group of faculty and students assembled by the college say the fees are well worth it.

“They bring a personal experience that we see an example in,” said on student supporter.

“I looked at Michael Moore as a big role model,” said another student.

“If you take it across the amount of students we have, 14,000, that’s not a lot of money,” says faculty member Bryan Craven.

Even though $40,000 is more than what two adjunct faculty members make, Craven says, “It’s still well worth it, for what the students get out of it.”

Moore actually donated a quarter of his fee back to the college when he saw officials raising money from his audience for Bunker Hill’s student emergency assistance fund. To some, that was yet another example of Moore’s value as a role model.

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