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 Lowell students?
We want UML 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 Lowell 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 $11 per-student, per-semester waivable fee that appears on your tuition bill. Students first voted to form and fund our chapter in 1978. 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.
What was the result of the last MASSPIRG funding vote?
In spring of 2023, 92% of students that voted in the student government elections voted YES to continue funding MASSPIRG at UML through the $11/semester waivable fee.
What are some of MASSPIRG’s recent accomplishments?
- 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, including over 3,000 students at UMass Lowell in the last decade. 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. And we won a leadership award from the Students Learn Students Vote coalition for our efforts!
- Supporting students’ basic needs: MASSPIRG has been working to alleviate hunger and homelessness for decades. Here at UML, we’ve run food drives and fundraisers to support both the UML Navigators Food Pantry on campus, as well as other shelters in the Lowell area. With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, many people’s living situations and ability to provide their basic needs have been challenged even more. So, at the onset of the pandemic, we also worked to publicize websites for people to find resources they need, including food pantries, shelters, and emotional comfort.
- 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 signatures (including 2,00- from UML) in support of the 100% Clean Act – which would transition the state to a fully clean energy future.
- Making textbooks affordable: One of our priority campaigns 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. At UMass Lowell we have had over 100 students participate in our individualized photo petitions promoting the use of open education resources.
See more victories here: masspirgstudents.org/recent-victories/
Jeffery Gerson // Political Science Professor
“MASSPIRG has been the most effective student organization at U. Mass Lowell for the last 30 years. Their steady focus on issues that matter, such as hunger and homelessness, green energy, cleaning up the Merrimack River, students’ voting rights, lower textbook costs…has been amazing and inspiring. Please support MASSPIRG so they can continue their much needed work.”
Brent Shell // Anatomy and Physiology Professor
“MASSPIRG’s efforts to aid in the transition to no and low-cost textbooks not only serves to reduce the financial burden for students today, but also provides them with a resource that doesn’t expire. This helps students find success in the classroom and in the workforce.”
Annie Soup-Koagne // Former Leader of the Association of Students of African Origin (ASAO) and Black Leadership Advisory Council (BLAC)
“MASSPIRG is one of the groups that I feel the community can always depend on. Working with them has given me a better outlook on community support and engagement. It has helped me become a prominent member of society, and advocate for the things that matter. It is the voice and leadership we need.”
Former State Rep. Thomas Golden // 16th Middlesex District
“It has been a pleasure to meet and work with the MASSPIRG Chapter at UMass Lowell. MASSPIRG is doing great work in educating and keeping students, our future leaders, informed and engaged with today’s key issues. They are making a difference not only on the UMass Lowell Campus but also in our communities. I applaud the work they do as the Chapter continues to promote civic involvement and investment in the community.”
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]