One may perhaps wonder how MassPIRG manages to effect concrete changes, but the diversity of the group’s aims serves as its greatest strength. “We fight for things that directly affect students’ lives, such as lowering the interest on student loans,” said co-president Bob Razavi ’03. “At the same time we work for larger causes, like protecting the environment, strengthening the democratic process and alleviating hunger and homelessness.”
This year, MassPIRG has registered 200 voters, cleaned up the Connecticut River and is working with a senior MassPIRG member on finding more eco-friendly campus energy sources. “We’re going to do all we can together to make this campus more energy and heat efficient,” said co-president Luke Swarthout ’04.
The Amherst chapter also works with its PIRG brethren, resulting in a far-reaching effort to give students a voice in politics. “We have paid college graduates, scientists and power players in Washington all working for the PIRG mission,” said Razavi.
During the national PIRG’s successful effort to lobby President Clinton to secure 58.5 million acres of unprotected natural forest from logging, mining and roadbuilding, the campus chapter set up a student call-in station in Valentine and sent a signed quilt to the White House. The group estimates over 700,000 calls were from PIRG efforts.
This semester, MassPIRG plans to focus on British Petroleum’s presence in the Arctic National Wildlife refuge, home to dozens of endangered species. “Our goal is to urge them to withdraw, and we’re going to do that by applying as much public relations pressure as we can,” Swarthout said. MassPIRG is holding a general interest meeting on Tuesday, February 13 on Moore’s second-floor lounge.