UMass Boston is home to lots of student-led organizations. Starting one is super easy, just fill out a form and get some of your friends to sign onto it. After the form gets processed, there you have it, a student organization, and you can immediately begin asking for funding from the Undergraduate Student Government. However, one particular student organization is different. MASSPIRG has been on our campus for the past several decades and has a strong and loud presence on campus. MASSPIRG has a very strong presence on campus with a very aggressive recruitment method. They do presentations in front of classes and pass around paper flyers describing their policy initiatives (while paper flyers that aren’t very good for the environment). They have students walk around campus to collect signatures for certain petitions, and get hundreds of hundreds of student signatures when they do those petition drives. An organization with such a vast student support body, as well as external aid from the MASSPIRG central organization, does not need your $9 waivable fee and should be treated like any other student organization.
Many on-campus student organizations such as political and religious organizations receive funding from their parent organizations to help with recruitment and to have events. Other student organizations, such as on-campus clubs without parent organizations, receive funding from SEOC. According to MASSPIRG’s official website, “Students pool their resources together statewide with other MASSPIRG chapters to hire staff, such as advocates, lobbyists, and organizers, to work with students on issues that they care about.” (1) By pooling the funding that they get from the waivable fee, MASSPIRG has an external parent organization responsible for allocating these funds to different universities based on need, student population, support for MASSPIRG on that campus, etc.
By having an external parent organization, MASSPIRG should be treated like any other organization that gets funding from an external parental organization. Additionally, the funding that MASSPIRG gets from the waivable fee goes to paying staff and lobbyists. Unlike what MASSPIRG has you believe, their fee does not go to directly help students. It goes to hiring lobbyists that spend their hours talking to politicians and pushing for unrealistic policy expectations such as 100 percent renewable energy within this decade.
I have no problem with MASSPIRG having a strong presence on campus. I think their intentions could be good. However, their extremely aggressive recruitment policies, and their extremely pushy methods, can be seen as intimidating by many people. MASSPIRG is partisan as seen through my other article discussing MASSPIRG. Their status as a partisan organization could be a strong reason why they can maintain their strong status on the campus. However, they should just be treated like any other organization. There are many organizations that have noble causes and fight for economic, racial and social justice. However, these organizations do not have a special fee on the student tuition bill. It is about time that MASSPIRG is treated like any other campus organization. Their aggressive recruitment, as well as their connections to student leaders and the Undergraduate Student Government, give it an unfair and illogical advantage over other student-run organizations that may also do work that claims to benefit the student body. MASSPIRG has a right to exist on campus, but we must push to ensure that they are treated equally with other student organizations, because that is the most equitable for other student organizations on campus.