Opinion: MassPIRG makes a difference

Making textbooks more affordable is the focus of one MassPIRG campaign.

By Samantha deManbey

Students involved in the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group have been labeled a number of things: modern hippies, tree huggers, and meddling kids. The third one is probably the most accurate.
Students in MassPIRG pressure legislators and promote policies that are focused on solving social problems. The student-run group has accomplished a number of things already this academic year: It has registered 130 voters on campus, raised over $1,000 for local shelters, collected hundreds of petition signatures asking the state to increase recycling, and helped raise awareness of the unfairly high cost of textbooks.
A lot of people may think such large issues are impossible to solve, but any change – big or small – is going to directly help individuals. It may not make the world perfect, but it may improve people’s lives.
MassPIRG’s goals are to directly help people on the community and state levels. By getting petitions signed and by asking students to write to legislators, we are hoping to bring about change. We did do a few artsy things like a garbage art contest, but the display was used to get people to sign petitions; we were able to collect 100 signatures within two days.
Another of our projects, Global Warming Solutions, focuses on encouraging legislators to enforce current laws for lowering emissions and using greener forms of energy.
The campaign Zero Waste focuses on recycling in Massachusetts and on campus; its main objective was to collect petitions and letters supporting a new Solid Waste Master Plan for Massachusetts and to update the Bottle Bill. Members collected a total of 215 signatures supporting the master plan, and sent out 70 hand-written letters asking to update the Bottle Bill so that people could get 5 cents back for water and Gatorade bottles.
The extra pennies will come in handy with the high cost of books. Textbook affordability focuses on targeting corporations and finding ways for students to save money on books.
MassPIRG has done a lot, but new members could help us do much more. In a superficial sense, being involved with MassPIRG will look good on a resume; but on a more profound level, it will make you feel like you can make a difference in the world.