MASSPirg: New voters, new names

By Alex Kerravala, Staff Writer

The UMass Dartmouth chapter of MASSPirg has been eager to fight for one-hundred percent renewable energy, getting us closer to the end goal every day. The fight reached a pretty remarkable milestone when MASSPirg chapter head and sophomore Nate Roberts was regarded as one of the twenty-one leading voices for clean energy in Massachusetts. Roberts was on a list of powerful and influential leaders, including various CEOs, directors, presidents, and even Senator Ed Markey.

The fight for clean energy here at UMass Dartmouth has not gone unrecognized, and the fact that our chapter head has been recognized as one of the most influential names in the fight for clean energy shows progress here at UMass Dartmouth.

As for more concrete work done by MASSPirg, the New Voters Campaign has had an excellent start this semester, from solidifying plans to register voters on campus to reaching out to the District Senator.

The NVP, new voters project, is MASSPirg’s plan to register new voters on campus. Beginning either late this semester, around April, or early the fall semester, MASSPirg plans on holding events in each of the dorms where they register as many people as possible to vote, right before the midterm elections. Various workshops like this are coming, trying to raise the voter turnout in Massachusetts as soon as possible.

At a much higher level, there is a Bill in the statehouse that would make it automatic to register someone to vote, turning the current system from opt-out to opt-in. Obviously, the MASSPirg Automatic Voter Registration campaign is in favor of this bill and has been reaching out to the Dartmouth District Senator to take a stance on this bill. MASSPirg has shown itself to be influential in the past, so naturally expectations are high, and with good reason.

If you’re looking for some less important, but still debated news, the entire Pirg organization, including the MASSPirg UMass Dartmouth Chapter, has been trying to re-brand for some time now, for multiple reasons. The first of which being that MASSPirg Students is trying to remain as nonpartisan as possible, and stay away from elections and campaigns, and stick to making nonpartisan policy change without attempting to influence elections.

There are other groups related to MASSPirg, groups like Environment America, that are attempting to grow their reach to one that can influence elections, where MASSPirg on college campuses wants nothing to do with that kind of change.

On top of that, MASSPirg does not do nearly enough to tell the story of the organization. The name is not quite fitting of what this organization really is.

So to find a name that distances MASSPirg from its sister groups, as well as one that tells its story a bit better, is ENGAGE. The name is different enough to disassociate the organization on campus from the organizations influencing federal campaigns, and does a much better job at showing the community what this student activist group really is.

The name changing process still has a way to go, but if MASSPirg can find a name that better shows the world who they really are, perhaps student involvement and activism will increase.

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