Contact: Leigh-Anne Cole, [email protected]

About Our Chapter:

The UMass Amherst MASSPIRG Chapter began in 1972. We are one of the oldest PIRG chapters in the country. For over 50 years, we’ve been organizing students on our campus to play an active role in making our society a better place by running local, statewide, and national campaigns on issues that affect us as students and citizens.

Recently, we’ve been working to get our campus to be a leader in fighting climate change by committing to get 100 percent of our energy from clean, safe, renewable sources. You may also know us from our New Voters Project, our non-partisan youth voter mobilization effort to help first-time voters have the tools they need to get registered and turn out to vote. In the 2018 elections, we helped register over 1200 students to vote and saw a 75% increase at the student-heavy polling locations near campus since the 2014 midterm elections. We are also running a campaign to make textbooks more affordable by promoting open education resources, save the bees by making UMass a bee-friendly campus, and alleviate poverty locally and across the state.

We are able to do all this because students here at UMass have voted for the past 50 years to have a MASSPIRG chapter, funded through an $11 waive-able fee that appears on the tuition bill. This money, pooled together with students from all across the state, allows us to have a much bigger impact on these issues at the state and national level, by hiring advocates, lawyers, organizers, and experts to help us run effective campaigns and have a much stronger voice where decisions are made.

Learn more about the MASSPIRG fee at UMass Amherst here!

Current Campaigns:

  • Hunger and Homelessness:  Rates of hunger and homelessness on college campuses across the state are too high. Students should be able to focus on their studies, not where their next meal will be coming from or where they will stay for the night. The Hunger Free Campus Initiative, if passed by the Massachusetts State Legislature, would reduce these rates and allow students to focus on more important things. In the past, we have made efforts to help the local Amherst community through running food drives for the Amherst Survival Center, and we have supported a Swipe Out Hunger Initiative on campus. Now, we are setting our sights on statewide change in addition to local service.

  • 100% Renewable Energy: Our campaign for 100% Renewable Energy successfully won a 100% commitment from the University. Now, we’re focusing on getting 1 million solar roofs installed across Massachusetts! We have generated a petition and will be tabling for signatures as well as sending the petition out on social media. Our generation is the first to feel the impacts of climate change, and only we have the power to mitigate its harmful effects.

  • Protect Our Oceans: Cashes Ledge, the underwater mountain range 90 miles from the coast of Boston, is an ocean treasure. It’s home to the healthiest and deepest kelp forest in New England and a hotspot for whales, puffin, and cod. The area has some protections, however they are not permanent and are threatened by the commercial fishing industry. When we set ocean places aside to conserve nature and stop destructive human activities in those spaces, we see ocean life recover and become more resilient. In order to keep this ocean treasure safe for generations to come, we need President Biden to act–but he’ll only do so if he hears loud and strong from locals/students who love the ocean. That’s why Environment Massachusetts and MASSPIRG are working this semester to gather petitions, generate media coverage, and hold media events to highlight the support for protecting this kelp forest.

  • Make Textbooks More Affordable: College is very expensive for students, adding to those costs are additional course materials and textbooks that are extremely expensive. In order to reduce the financial burden, MASSPIRG advocates for the usage of Open Educational Resources, open source information that professors can utilize to create a free class resource. UMass Amherst already has a grant program to incentivize professors to use this open source information, and we want to inform both students and professors about this opportunity.

  • Democracy: Youth voter turnout has been low compared to the older population in past elections. However, youth voter engagement is critical for changes to be made and to ensure elected officials reflect the values of the people they represent. This past election, UMASS Amherst’s MASSPIRG chapter helped register over 300 students to vote and contacted 2,500 students to remind them to vote on election day. To continue its efforts to increase civic engagement on college campuses through voter education and advocacy, UMASS Amherst’s Democracy campaign is working on getting election day off from classes for future elections and gathering support for same-day voter registration in Massachusetts. 
     

Chapter Leadership:

Isabel Rojas // Chapter Chair

Class of 2024 | Microbiology

[email protected]

Isabel is the Chair of MASSPIRG at UMass Amherst. She transferred to UMass in the fall of 2022 and is now a senior studying Microbiology. She joined MASSPIRG as an intern for the New Voter’s Project, helping to register students to vote and educate them about their voting options in the 2022 midterm elections. She is now the campaign coordinator for the Democracy campaign where she is building support for same-day voter registration in Massachusetts and is working with the university to get a polling location on campus. Outside of MASSPIRG and academics, Isabel enjoys reading, spending time with her dog, and painting with friends. After graduation, Isabel plans to attend medical school and apply what she has learned about advocacy and leadership to her practice of medicine.

Serene Omran // Chapter Vice Chair

Class of 2025 | Biology Major

[email protected]

Serene Omran is the current Vice Chair of MASSPIRG at UMass Amherst. She is a sophomore majoring in Biology and minoring in Environmental Science. She first started volunteering at MASSPIRG during the Fall of 2022 to help register students to vote for the midterm elections. She is now working on the 100% Renewable Energy campaign and is dedicated to environmental health. She is happy to be working with MASSPIRG to represent student voices.

Jake Russell // Chapter Treasurer

Class of 2024 | Sustainable Food and Farming Major

[email protected]

Jake is a senior at UMass Amherst studying Sustainable Food and Farming. He first started volunteering with MASSPIRG in January of 2023, and according to his own testimony, has been “having a ball”. He has taken on the position of Chapter Treasurer for this year and is thrilled to be a part of this awesome organization that works and fights for the ideals they believe in, whether that is 100% Renewable Energy, Hunger and Homelessness, and all the other campaigns present in MASSPIRG.

Livy Trummel // Chapter Secretary

Class of 2026 | Political Science

[email protected]

Livy Trummel is the current secretary of MASSPIRG at UMass Amherst. She is a sophomore Political Science major and Spanish minor. She started volunteering with MASSPIRG in Fall of 2022 working with the 100% Renewable Energy campaign. She is now the coordinator for the Hunger and Homelessness campaign and is dedicated to tackling food insecurity on campus. She’s excited to have some fun and do good work this semester!

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