Representative Mindy Domb at MASSPIRG UMass Amherst Kickoff



I learned so much from MASSPIRG, from the students, from the organizers, from the activists. When I became a Rep, I was already involved with food security issues. So hunger on campus was something I was very familiar with because I used to work at the Amherst Survival Center. Does anybody here know the Amherst Survival Center?

Great organization, right? So before I was a Rep, I was the executive director at the Survival Center. And so I was really familiar with how economic insecurity creates food insecurity and hunger and how that was particularly happening on the UMass campus. And so getting involved with the Hunger Free Campus Initiative was sort of a logical step for me in the House of Representatives.

That legislation is filed by myself and Rep. Andy Vargas from Haverhill, and we’ve got lots of cosponsors and lots of student supporters. And to give you an example of why student engagement and organizing and activity is important: When that bill came up for a hearing a couple of weeks ago in the House, it was critical that students were testifying in support of it. And MASSPIRG showed up with lots of students as well as other organizations. And that’s good, because elected officials need to hear from the people who are directly impacted by these policies. And those are policies that happen on the campus, but they’re also policies that happen in the world, what’s happening to the climate, what’s happening to the planet.

Personally, I didn’t really know that much about OER or open educational resources, which is when your textbooks are free and on the internet, until the person who was organizing that campaign when I first got elected and MASSPIRG on this campus taught me about it. We sat down, we met. He was really enmeshed in this issue. He brought in the UMass librarians to teach me about it. I learned, and I learned so well. I became a complete advocate. We shouldn’t even have hard copy textbooks anymore!

This year, I introduced legislation to create a fund that could then go and support OER development on all public higher ed campuses.
And that’s directly because of the organizing that’s been happening on UMass’ campus through MASSPIRG. So some folks have said, what’s the importance of students being involved? It’s believably important. It’s critical. I feel like you can double dip because you can use me as your campus Rep, but if you’re from Massachusetts, you have another Rep, and that’s where your home is, and you should be lobbying and advocating with them as well.