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 Middlesex students?
We want MCC 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 MCC 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 1988. 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. Here at Middlesex, students have voted affirmatively to fund our MASSPIRG Chapter for the past 32 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, more than 1400 students here at MCC. 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. We worked closely with the Civic Engagement Office this year to educate over 600 students at MCC about how to register to vote, and turn out to the polls!
- Textbooks: One of our priority campaigns right now is working to make textbooks more affordable. We’ve been working locally, statewide, and at the national level to reduce textbook costs for decades – and we’ve made a lot of progress by helping professors switch to free, open-source materials that cost very little for students. Recently, we convinced our federal leaders in congress to allocate $7 million to open education resource programs, saving students $170 million in textbooks costs. We are now pushing for MA to double their funding of open educational resource programs in the 2021 budget. At MCC, we worked with the other community college partners– including librarians, professors, and current students at NSCC, HCC, MBCC, and BCC– to host a statewide, community college panel event during National Open Education Week (first week of March).
- Supporting students’ basic needs: MASSPIRG has been working to alleviate hunger and homelessness for decades. This past year has been especially difficult with the pandemic, and inequity has been a problem more than ever. In the most recent survey by HopeLabs this past summer, which surveyed over 800 students at MCC, 32% of students had been food insecure in the previous 30 days, and 34% were housing insecure when they answered the questions. This year, we have been working closely with the on-campus food pantries on both Bedford and Lowell campuses; we are making hunger and homelessness resources more visible and available for MCC students! We are currently making virtual class announcements and sending emails widely to the student body to bring awareness to the issue of student hunger, and helping those affected. We are also distributing a survey which has the opportunity to sign up for additional assistance, whether it be a supermarket gift card and/or a personal care gift basket. This is all leading up to our Easter event on April 2nd, where we will distribute necessary aid!
- Tackling the climate crisis: We work to eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels and reverse the worst impacts of climate change. In 2008, we helped to pass the Global Warming Solutions Act in MA which helped us set goals to reduce our carbon emissions which we’re on track to hit. Now we’re working to make sure MA commits to a goal of getting 100% of our energy from clean, safe, renewable sources. Just this semester, we’ve collected over 10,000 signatures in support of this effort, including 300 from MCC students.
- 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 (including four from MCC) to the key decision-makers, including Governor Baker, to get this bill over the finish line.
See more victories here: https://masspirgstudents.org/recent-victories/
Want to join our efforts? We’d love to have you!
First, follow us online:
If you want to volunteer or learn more about our internship program, learn more here.
If you still have more questions, please contact us at [email protected]