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The Mass Media

MASSPIRG Students tabling and kickoff events

On Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, the University of Massachusetts Boston chapter of Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group students ran an “I <3 the Primaries” themed table, and held a kickoff event to officially launch the chapter’s four campaigns into the spring semester.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., MASSPIRG students ran a table on the second floor of the Campus Center right by the catwalk. The table was decorated with heart shaped balloons and an “I <3 Primaries” poster board. About five volunteers circulated the area, asking passersby if they were registered to vote, and helped to register students who were not registered but wished to be. 

Luis Diaz Mateo, a freshman student who works with MASSPIRG and volunteered to assist at the tabling event, explained his role at the event as “to make sure that everyone that has passed by has registered to vote, or has either updated their address.” When asked about the event’s level of success, Luis responded: “It’s been pretty successful. I think everyone, if they’re registered, they updated their address. You know, everyone’s smiling all around, so I think it’s a pretty good day.”

When asked about the level of success the event had achieved, just about 20 minutes into the event, Ian Phipps, coordinator of the UMass Boston MASSPIRG Students New Voters Project Campaign remarked: “As soon as we set the table up, I think almost every one of the volunteers … had at least one person in front of them filling out a form; one of the registration forms or the pledge to vote form.” 

The table was set up one day before the deadline to register to vote in the Massachusetts Presidential Primary Election on March 3. Phipps encourages everyone to “make sure you go out, make sure you register, make sure you vote on election day … and you know, get involved.”

At 3:30 p.m., MASSPIRG moved their efforts toward their semester kickoff event. The event was held in Ballroom A on the third floor of Campus Center. Upon exiting the elevator on the third floor, signs directed students to the event. Students filtered into the ballroom and signed in. By the start of the event, about 35-40 students were in attendance. 

To begin the kickoff, Silver Wolf, Vice Chair for the UMass Boston MASSPIRG Chapter, outlined the agenda for the event at a podium in the front of the room. Following Silver, the four campaign coordinators each spoke for about five minutes. They gave basic personal information, detailed their respective campaigns’ goals and accomplishments, and explained their personal reasons for joining their campaigns. 

The four campaigns are the New Voters Project Campaign, the Hunger and Homelessness Campaign, the 100 Percent Renewable Energy Campaign, and the Make Textbooks Affordable Campaign. 

After the campaign coordinators spoke, everyone in attendance was invited to be in a MASSPIRG group photo taken by UMass Boston MASSPIRG Campus Organizer Julia Seremba. Next, attendees split up into breakout groups. The four breakout groups corresponded to the four campaigns, and were led by the campaign coordinators. Participants gave introductions, and then the campaign coordinators spoke more about the campaigns’ plans. The breakout groups brainstormed ideas, and participants were encouraged to sign up for volunteer opportunities. 

Julia, a student who has been involved in MASSPIRG for a few weeks, went to the 100 Percent Renewable Energy Campaign breakout group. When asked in an interview what she thought of the breakout group, she replied: “I really liked the meeting, it was good stuff. We have, like, good plans for the semester.”

Another student, Carola, was attending her first MASSPIRG event, and she went to the Make Textbooks Affordable Campaign breakout group. She commented that the group was “pretty cool,” and plans to continue participation in the organization. When asked about her overall experience at the event, Carola responded: “I think coming here … I can get to know more about peoples’ experience, and also understand more about the purpose of MASSPIRG, and also, the campaigns are also interesting.”

When asked about the event’s turnout, Silver explained that the kickoff event was happening again the following day, and that because their expected total number of participants was 80, the 40 people in attendance at the event that day was just as expected. 

Students can get involved in MASSPIRG by filling out one of the yellow interest cards they may have been handed during a class, going to the UMB MASSPIRG website at https://masspirgstudents.org/chapters/umb/, or by visiting the MASSPIRG desk on the third floor of Campus Center in Suite 3100.

About the Contributor
Abigail Basile, News Editor