MASSPIRG December 2022 Newsletter
We kicked off the semester by recruiting hundreds of students across the state to work on our campaigns. Students continue to be passionate about making a difference on the issues our communities face, and are excited to get involved making social change. Through class announcements, tables, and campaign actions, students educated and engaged their peers on the issues that matter, and showed up again and again to make our world a greener, healthier, and more meaningful place.
Getting out the Youth Vote!
Leading up to the 2022 midterm election on November 8th, our top priority was getting out the student vote. Our generation—18 to 29 year olds—is the largest and most diverse generation of potential voters. We have our own values, needs, and ideas. We know that young people have the will and the power to shape our country’s future, but young people also face unique challenges when it comes to raising our voices and voting.
For that reason, MASSPIRG Students were hard at work registering our peers to vote, educating our fellow students on the voting process, and making sure everyone had a plan to vote on or before Election Day.
- We contacted almost 20 thousand students to get out the youth vote.
- We partnered with over 30 student organizations through vote coalitions and events.
- We organized more than 50 campaign events for students to engage, educate, and mobilize their peers to vote.
Our hard work paid off! Our National New Voters Project campaign won the “Centering and Trusting Local Leaders” Award by the Students Learn Students Vote Coalition! Even better, preliminary results from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) estimates that the percentage of all eligible young voters, ages 18-29, who cast a ballot in 2022 will reach 27%, the second-highest national voter youth turnout rate for a midterm election in nearly 30 years!
Lobby Days in Boston for Solar Roofs
Global climate change is one of the biggest threats our generation faces, and we’re already feeling its effects. Here in Massachusetts we’re seeing drought and rising temperatures. Worldwide, communities are facing severe storms, rising sea levels and mass extinction. Apart from climate change, our reliance on fossil fuels pollutes our air, causing chronic respiratory conditions and loss of life.
It is imperative that we transition Massachusetts away from fossil fuels. Moving to 100% clean renewable energy has been a top priority for us at MASSPIRG Students for more than a decade, and we’re making progress. Last spring, we convinced UMass Amherst campus to commit to going carbon neutral by 2032, and over the summer we helped pass the Massachusetts climate bill expanding renewable infrastructure in the state, transitioning us to electric vehicles, and requiring energy benchmarking for large buildings.
This fall, as part of our push for clean renewable energy, we focused on expanding solar infrastructure in the state. We’re calling on legislators in Boston to build the equivalent of 1 million solar roofs by 2030. This infrastructure would provide 47% of Massachusetts’ energy budget, protecting our communities from respiratory disease, and helping to fight the global climate crisis.
Through one-on-one conversations with our peers, we managed to collect more than one thousand signatures in support of our push for 1 million solar roofs. On November 18th and December 2nd we took those signatures to Boston to talk to our representatives about solar energy. In Boston, we convinced four representatives— Senators Jo Comerford, John F. Keenan, and Michael Rush, and Representative Steven Owens— to sign our letter committing to expand solar infrastructure across Massachusetts.
Preventing Hunger and Homelessness
Hunger and homelessness is unfortunately very common among college students—about 37% of students attending public universities in Massachusetts are food insecure. We have worked to reduce this number by hosting food and clothing drives with students performing more than 130 service hours, both on campus and in the surrounding communities.
We also hosted the “Faces of Homelessness” panel event with the National Coalition for the Homeless. Sixty students and community members attended to hear from two formerly homeless individuals, who shared their stories, answered questions about their experience, and discussed ideas to reduce stigma and end homelessness in our communities.
Our work is not over. We’re looking forward to continuing to promote democracy, protect the environment, make education affordable, and stand against hunger and homelessness in our communities.
- Although 2023 is not a national election year, we still have a lot of work to do promoting student civic engagement and lowering the barriers to the student vote.
- We will be hosting an Environmental lobby day, and a lobby day for the Hunger Free Campus Bill.
- We will be continuing our push for campuses across the state to commit to going 100% renewable.
- We will be hosting “OERscars” at campuses around the state to celebrate professors who have fought the rising cost of education by teaching their classes with free or low cost textbooks.
- We are implementing a new campus priority, our Zero Waste Campaign targeting single use plastics and polystyrene.
- We will continue our direct service work — hosting food drives, clothing drives, campus clean ups, and much more.
Making social change requires people-power, and we couldn’t do it without our student leadership. We always need more students to take on roles in our campaigns, whether students have a couple hours to spend volunteering every few weeks, or 10+ hours per week to spend leading a campaign. Students can get involved through our internship program, learn leadership skills, engage their peers about the issues that matter, and make a real difference.
All Made Possible by the $9-11 Waivable Fee
All of this campaign work is made possible because of the students across the state who pay their MASSPIRG fee. Every few years, students at MASSPIRG chapter campuses vote to reaffirm their support of our work by funding our MASSPIRG chapter with the $9-11 per-student per-semester waivable fee. Students pool their resources together statewide with other MASSPIRG chapters to hire staff, such as advocates, lobbyists, and organizers, to work with students on issues that they care about and represent students where decisions are made—in Boston and Washington D.C.
The problems that MASSPIRG tackles are large, statewide, and often national in scope. 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. In order to make real, substantial change, we combine student enthusiasm with professional staff to run our effective statewide organization.
In addition, we could not run strategic local campaigns without strong partnerships with campus leaders and community members, or without advice and support from folks like you. So thank you for your ongoing support!