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 UMass Boston students?
We want UMB 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 UMass Boston 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 1973. 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 UMass Boston, students have voted affirmatively to fund our MASSPIRG Chapter for the past 48 years.
What was the result of the the last MASSPIRG funding vote?
In Spring of 2023, 78% of students that voted in the student government elections voted YES to continue funding MASSPIRG on campus!
What are some of MASSPIRG’s recent accomplisments?
- 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, and over 5,000 of those being from UMass Boston. We help to increase youth voting by engaging people face to face, over the phone, and through creative social media outreach tactics. In the 2022 midterm elections, we made over 20,000 youth voter contacts across the state, contributing to historic youth voter turnout. At UMB, we partnered with various groups such as the Undergraduate Student Government, Campus Democrats and Campus Republicans to register students and get them out to vote. And we won a leadership award from the Students Learn Students Vote coalition for our efforts!
- Making textbooks more affordable: 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 $14 million to open education resource programs, saving students hundreds of millions of dollars in textbooks costs. Here at UMass Boston, we’re working with the OER Team on campus that is actively working to increase the use of open educational resources on campus.
- Preventing hunger and homelessness: Hunger and homelessness plagues millions of people across the United States, including college students. About 37% of students attending public universities in Massachusetts are food insecure and this forces students to have to choose between their next meal, affording their education and housing. We need to work towards ending hunger and homelessness, and in order to do that we must create a platform for open discussion on the stigma that people experiencing homelessness face and how we can tackle these issues. With this in mind, MASSPIRG held a virtual “Faces of Homelessness” panel with the National Coalition for the Homeless. Sixty students and community members attended and heard from two speakers that shared their experience of being homeless and answered questions on how we as a community can support unhoused people.
- Tackling the climate crisis: Climate change is one of the biggest threats our generation faces, and we’re already feeling its effects, which is why we’re advicating to repower Massachusetts with 100 percent clean and renwable energy. And we’re making progress! Last spring we won a 100% renewable energy commitment from UMass Amherst, and over the summer we helped pass a climate bill expanding renewable infrastructure in the state. Across the state, we’ve collected over 20,000 petition signatures (including 2,800 from UMB) in support of the 100% Clean Act – which would transition the state to a fully clean energy future.
See more victories here: https://masspirgstudents.org/recent-victories/
Patrick Joseph, Former Assistant Director for Office of Off-Campus Living
“I’ve been able to see the wonderful contributions MASSPIRG has managed to make towards educating and getting our students registered to vote in the 2020 Presidential election while a part of the UMB Voting Coalition.
Having a group like this to keep students engaged and informed in what’s happening on the national and local stage of government is imperative to helping students engage with the world around them in a meaningful way.”
Alex Killian, former USG President, Class of 2020
“In my experience working with MASSPIRG, I’ve known them to be a dedicated group of fellow students from across the UMass Boston community. Through their efforts in promoting student-oriented change – whether that be through OER, which would revolutionize how (and how much) students pay for textbooks; through their sustainability initiatives, which aim for UMB to contribute to the fight against climate change; or through their student voting drives, encouraging any and all students to take civic responsibility and take part in local or national elections – it’s plain to see that the work these volunteers do is worthy and valuable, and deserving of a home here at UMass Boston.”
Nick Adams, Former President of UMB College Democrats and USG Senator
“I would like to give my full support to the work that MASSPIRG does for UMass Boston students, students across our Commonwealth, and nation. I have worked with MASSPIRG in many capacities across campus, and I wholeheartedly believe that they are invested in their mission to give students a voice in government and support our interests. Keeping MASSPIRG at UMass Boston is vital to student interests, from their advocacy on making systems of higher educational finance fairer for us through the Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights and fighting for increased funding for Pell Grants, to providing an excellent opportunity for students to engage in the political process through their internships and voter registration programs. I fully support continuing MASSPIRG’s funding through the $9 waivable fee that students get to weigh in on every few years during USG elections and at the time when they pay their bill.”
Jamie Leavitt, Former President of UMB College Republicans
“During my time as Vice President and President of UMB College Republicans I have gotten to work alongside MASSPIRG as part of the UMB Vote Coalition and they have been an important part of getting UMB students registered to vote and having their voices heard.”
Want to join our efforts? We’d love to have you!
First, follow us online:
Then, sign up to volunteer!
If you still have more questions, please contact us at [email protected]