MASSPIRG Students December Newsletter

100% Clean Energy

As the generation inheriting the planet, students care a lot about tackling climate change. That’s why we’ve continued to work to pass the 100% Clean Act (H.3288, S.2136) which will transition the state to 100% clean electricity, heating, and transportation. If passed, this will be the strongest clean energy program in the country.

This semester, we continued our efforts by collecting another 5,000 petition signatures from students in support of the bill, reaching 15,000 for the year! During our grassroots week of action, we generated 600 phone calls to legislators across the state, and 200 social media posts in support of the 100% Clean Act.

And we brought this support (virtually) to the MA State House! We met with 30 legislators to lobby in support of the 100% Clean Act and held a kick off webinar with one of the sponsors of the bill, Rep. Sean Garballey.

On December 14th, the energy committee held a public hearing on the bill! We had half a dozen students join to testify virtually and mobilized over 100 students and community members to submit written testimony in support of the 100% Clean Act. Coming out of our Lobby Week and the hearing, we feel optimistic about building off of the momentum and continuing to work with our legislators to shift Massachusetts to a clean energy future. We will continue advocating for this bill in the spring and keep you updated on the progress!

New Voters Project

Having our voices heard is critical to a healthy democracy, and that all starts with voting during elections. Oftentimes college students are voting for the first time or are living in different places than their permanent address. This is why we prioritize educating people about how they can get registered and turn out to vote every major election cycle. 

Last fall, we worked hard to mobilize young people to turn out to vote for the 2020 election. Including the over 50,000 direct contacts we made to voters in the days leading up to the election, we reached close to 120,000 students with the help of faculty, campus administrators, social media influencers, and our volunteers by activating emails, making virtual class announcements, and presenting in virtual student group meetings. 

This peer-to-peer outreach certainly paid off! The Student PIRGs worked at more than 150 campuses across the country in 2020. At the 62 campuses where we have NSLVE data, student voter turnout in 2020 averaged 71%, well above the national average for the general population.

In Massachusetts, we have NSLVE data for nine campuses where PIRG did work in 2020. In total these campuses enroll more than 93,000 students:

  • The average voter registration rate on these campuses climbed from 79% in 2016 to 83% in 2020 (vs. 66% of the general population), 
  • The turnout rate of registered voters increased from 71% in 2016 to 81% in 2020 (vs. 77% of the general population),
  • and the overall turnout rate was 68% of students versus 56% in 2016 (vs. 50% of the general population)

We’re especially impressed with the voter registration rates at Mount Holyoke College and Salem State University which reached 91.9% and 92.4% respectively, and the turnout rate of registered students at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst which reached an impressive 74.7%.

But, democracy never stops! We were determined to build off the momentum of the 2020 election, and make sure that we continue to help young people have their voices heard in every level of government, not just presidential races. So that’s why this fall, we helped register and turn out students to vote in the 2021 municipal elections. 

In the days leading up to the Election, we had 300 one-one-one conversations with students to help them make a plan to vote, made almost 3,000 personal reminders to students, and reached more than 36,000 students through our visibility and outreach efforts. 

Fighting Hunger & Homelessness

There have always been people in our community who are in need – whether that means access to adequate shelter, food, toiletries, or other medical/health related services. This has only been heightened during the pandemic and the economic crisis in the past year. 

That’s why this fall, we participated in Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, a national week of action designed to educate the public, draw attention to the problem of poverty, and build up the base of volunteers and supporters for local anti-poverty agencies.

Across Massachusetts, our MASSPIRG volunteers hosted a dozen events, collecting 1,000 food items for food banks and raising over $3,500 for local shelters and groups working to fight hunger and homelessness.

Making Textbooks More Affordable

Along with many other chapters across the state, our chapter has been working to tackle the ever-rising costs of textbooks. Statewide, we’ve been working to increase funding for programs and resources that will help more professors make the switch to Open Educational Resources instead of using more expensive, traditional textbooks.

During Open Education Week, we signed on 150 professors statewide to consider using low-cost or open textbooks in their classrooms.

All made possible by the MASSPIRG fee

The problems that MASSPIRG tackles are big. Our goals are not simply for students to “make their voices heard” on these issues, but to win concrete reforms that improve people’s lives and the world. In order to make real, substantial change, we combine student enthusiasm with professional staff to run our effective statewide organization. And all of this campaign work is made possible because of students across Massachusetts that pay their semesterly MASSPIRG fee.

Learn more about our MASSPIRG’s funding on our FAQ page here.