In the news

The Beacon
By
Corey Mitchell-LaBrie

As the leaves change and autumn sets in, MCLA’s MASSPIRG chapter refuses to simply let the year buzz by as they begin to launch their newest campaign, “Save the Bees.”
The “Save the Bees” campaign will work toward transforming the MCLA campus into a bee-friendly campus by taking actions like cutting the grass later and having specific pollinating plants.

“MASSPIRG helps people get involved in volunteering and helping out things that affect their area and themselves,” said Lindsey Vachon ’20, the student spearhead for the project. “When I heard MASSPIRG was doing a bee campaign I was like, ‘Yes!’”

MASSPIRG, Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group, is a nonpartisan activist group both run and funded by college students. The organization itself is part of the larger Student PIRG, and works on some of the biggest issues facing the newest generation.

Each college chapter is run by its own individual campus organizer given to them by MASSPIRG. Their job is to monitor and aid the students in their passions and keep their their ideas moving forward.

MCLA’s assigned Campus Organizer, Jinnah Griffin, will not be joining the group this year. In her place will be both Lindsay Mitnik, the Campus Organizer for UMass Amherst, and Samantha Gibb, their Organizing Director for the state.

“Our main focus is that we want to train the students to run everything,” said Mitnik. “So in a perfect world the Organizer can come and go and the campus chapter will run itself.

“It’s an entry level position,” she added. “Usually an Organizer will be on the ground for one year, then a new organizer will come in.”
Despite this, the MCLA chapter appears undeterred.

“I really want to do things that help out the environment,” said Vachon. “I was involved in a bee book in high school, so I already sort of knew about bees already.”
During her junior year in high school, Vachon worked alongside author Dede Cummings to publish the book “The Good Living Guide to Beekeeping, Secrets of the Hive, Stories from the Field, and a Practical Guide That Explains It All”.

“She wanted to do her own beekeeping,” Vachon said. “She actually came down with shingles while we were writing it so and I actually took up most of her sections, and did the research, and wrote it for her. Obviously though she did write part of the book.”

“On the faculty side of things,” she said, “we actually have Professor Kiley helping us, Erin Kiley.”

Dr. Kiley, an Assistant Professor of Mathematics, attended MASSPIRG’s kickoff meeting on Sept. 20. There she expressed her own passion for bees and beekeeping, including examples taken from her own hives.

She pitched several ideas during the meeting including a possible partnership with the Bee Friendly Williamstown group, citing a pollination lecture given by a biology professor at Williamstown College.

“In November, I believe the 6th through the 10th we’re having a pollinator awareness week,” said Vachon. “We’re going to be tabling, probably with games, we’re gonna try to have cookies and stuff, bee shaped cookies. And eventually trying to coordinate a dining hall event.”

MASSPIRG is always open for new student members, either just as volunteers or active participants in their campaigns. Popular campaigns of theirs include movements helping to reduce Hunger and Homelessness, 100% Clean Energy and Textbook Affordability.

Students interested in MASSPIRG and the “Save the Bees” campaign can contact Vachon through email at LV6122@mcla.edu, or drop into one of their meetings at 5:30 p.m. every Wednesday in Bowman 206.

Related Chapter

MASSPIRG at MCLA