Campus Organizer: Kirby Sikes, [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:

Ashley Agostinelli // Chapter Chair

Class of 2023 | Psychology and Linguistics Major

[email protected]

Ashley is the Chair of MASSPIRG Students. She is a Senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst majoring in Psychology and Linguistics. She first started during Fall 2020 to help register students to vote in the 2020 election. Since then, she has gone from the Secretary to Chapter Chair at UMass Amherst. Outside of MASSPIRG, Ashley likes to knit, read and play board games with friends. After graduation, Ashley plans to attend law school and apply all that she has learned in her future career.

Caitlyn Egan // Chapter Vice Chair

Class of 2023 | Environmental Science and Public Policy Major

[email protected]

Caitlyn Egan is the current Vice Chair of MASSPIRG at UMass Amherst. She started volunteering with MASSPIRG when she was a freshman and has continued to take on leadership with the organization ever since. Her passion for the environment got her interested in the organization, and her experience with MASSPIRG has sparked an interest in pursuing Environmental Policy at the federal level. She is excited to have met so many amazing people through working with MASSPIRG, and will remember her experience forever!

Serene Omran // Chapter Treasurer

Class of 2025 | Biology Major

[email protected]

Serene Omran is the Treasurer of MASSPIRG at UMass Amherst. She is a sophomore and is 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!

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