What is MASSPIRG?
MASSPIRG is a statewide student-run and student-funded advocacy group working to protect the environment, make college more affordable, and to help students get registered to vote. We work locally on college campuses, and have professional staff, like organizers, advocates, and lobbyists in Boston and DC, who work with us to make sure we make tangible changes. We bring issues that happen in the real world to college students so they don’t have to wait until graduation to make a difference.
Why is MASSPIRG beneficial for BCC students?
We want BCC students to have the opportunity to be engaged citizens and make a real, tangible difference on issues that matter to us and society. We think that having our voices heard in the broader political process by voting in elections, signing petitions for causes we care about, and gaining tangible leadership skills helps to fulfill this mission, and the mission of our Berkshire Community College as well.
Beyond making a difference on issues that affect all of us – whether that’s locally, statewide, or nationally – MASSPIRG offers students on campus hands-on training in a variety of skill sets that include public speaking, formal writing, planning events, and working collaboratively with other students and members of the government, to name a few. Our campaigns educate and engage students in current events and civics and make it possible for students here to start making a difference right now, instead of waiting until graduation.
How is MASSPIRG funded and directed?
We are funded by students through a $9 per-student, per-semester waivable fee that appears on your tuition bill. Students first voted to form and fund our chapter in 1983. We pool those resources with other chapters across the state and hire professional staff like organizers, lobbyists, and advocates, who work alongside us to advocate on our behalf, run strategic grassroots campaigns, and win reforms that help improve the quality of life for everyone.
Students make the decisions on what campaigns we run locally and which issues we prioritize statewide. The core group of MASSPIRG students on each campus elect student leaders to represent their campus at the statewide level on our Board of Directors. MASSPIRG is open to any and all students who want to participate. The student body at large has the opportunity to reaffirm their support of funding our own advocacy group every few years.
What have we accomplished?
- Increasing the youth vote and civic engagement: We are the largest and most diverse generation alive, and we need to vote to have our voices heard. In the last 15 years, MASSPIRG has helped to register over 45,000 students to vote, including 600 students here at BCC We help to increase youth voting by engaging people face to face, over the phone, and through creative social media outreach tactics. In the 2020 elections, we made over 50,000 youth voter contacts across the state, contributing to historic youth voter turnout.
- Tackling the climate crisis: Here at BCC, we partnered with faculty and student groups to educate hundreds of students about our lead campaign to power MA with 100% clean, safe, renewable energy through announcements in classes and club meetings which helped us identify 15 volunteers and interns in the first three weeks of classes. That team of student leaders and volunteers recruited 25 people to join our virtual kickoff meeting at the beginning of February! The climate crisis is one of the biggest threats our generation faces, especially as we start to live through some of the most extreme weather impacts in our own communities. Since the start of the semester, we’ve already generated 10,000 signatures in support of passing the bill, including 200 students in the Berkshires! We want to give a big thank you to the professors and student leaders who provided us with time to make announcements about this critical issue.
- Protecting students as consumers: In January 2021, Our advocacy and organizing efforts resulted in the passage of the Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights, which will protect the 855,500 students who have had to take out loans to pay for college from unfair and deceptive lending practices by loan servicing companies. Our professional staff advocates and student leaders testified on Beacon Hill each time this bill came up for discussion. In the final weeks of the legislative session, we delivered letters signed by over 100 student leaders from across campuses in MA to the key decision-makers, including Governor Baker, to get this bill over the finish line.
- Celebrating Open Education Week and Affordable textbooks: Two weeks ago was Open Education Week, an international week dedicated to celebrating, sharing and learning about the latest achievements in Open Education worldwide. The Student PIRGs held dozens of events from coast to coast, writing and submitting over 200 letters to the editor and reaching out to over 1,000 faculty to take action. Leading up to this week of awareness, our Affordable Textbooks Campaign advocates released the “Fixing the Broken Textbook Market” report addressing the ongoing challenges of textbook affordability during the COVID-19 pandemic. Check out the key report findings on our website!
Our BCC chapter co-hosted a Community College panel discussion on Open Educational Resources (OERs), featuring BCC OER Reference Librarian along with staff and student leaders at North Shore, Middlesex, and Mass Bay Community College. They all discussed their own experiences with open educational materials as well as some of the key initiatives to reduce the burden of textbook costs.
See more victories here: https://masspirgstudents.org/recent-victories/
Want to join our efforts? We’d love to have you!
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If you still have more questions, please contact us at [email protected]