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 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, 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 2020 elections, we made over 50,000 youth voter contacts across the state, contributing to historic youth voter turnout. At UML, we worked with campus partners to form the UML Voters Coalition, including SGA, Student Activities, Athletics, ASAO, and more groups on campus. Our coalition worked together to educate thousands of UML students through announcements in classes, educational events, social media, and other outreach leading up to the November election to ensure that students knew how to have their voices heard on issues that mattered to them.
- 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: 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 over 1,600 UML 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 eight from UML) to the key decision-makers, including Governor Baker, to get this bill over the finish line.
See more victories here: masspirgstudents.org/recent-victories/
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 // Association of Students of African Origin (ASAO), 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.”
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:
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]