WISPIRG makes change happen
Published: Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Updated: Friday, November 2, 2012 17:11
The Student PIRGs (see chart) are back this semester, stronger than ever organizing new faces at the downtown campus. PIRG started with students pooling together to hire lawyers because they felt they had no voice in politics. Their goal was to be able to effectively organize and advocate for student rights and now is in 48 states with 108 campus chapters. Here non-partisan groups of students and graduates are heading and volunteering for various advocacy campaigns while they are going to school. One in particular addresses a subject that is near and dear to our hearts.affordable textbooks. The initial "Open Textbook" campaign according to Drew Mealey, Chapter Chair, "has the potential to save students roughly $900 a year on average, which is about 3 months worth of groceries for a family." It plans to do this by building support for "Open Textbooks" which would be available for free on-line or under $40 in print. The PIRGs rallied for 200 signatures on this matter in a petition; they ended the day with 350.
Another event is being organized to address the issue of poverty in Milwaukee. Ruben Casarez, Community Outreach Coordinator says, "WisPIRG works on campaigns that not only affect students but affect the world as well." The goal of this hunger and homelessness project is to raise $2000 for the established non-profit, Feeding America who will then disburse aid to charities and groups that need it the most. Recent developments for the campaign have reached out to Fashion-Marketing students at various campuses who are considering a fashion show as a hub to showcase their new clothing lines.
Also, there is the Higher Education Campaign, which is attentive to pursuing strategies and solutions so students can have an economical experience with higher education instead of being lost in the debt maze of student loans.
In addition to local and global energy awareness, the Energy Service Corps coordinates students on a variety of seasonal projects. Some of the activities include helping to weather-proof residential windows before the winter months.
Their biggest obstacle according to Liz Ziner, Campus Organizer, is that they don't have an office location for MATC. Ziner says, "In order to reach as many people as possible we need to be visible and that's difficult without an official office space.
Students can join a group or meeting continually through-out the semester. The meetings and environment are respectful and motivated towards an individual's creativity while reaching out to help others in and outside the MATC community.
There is always advance communication about meetings and events as the student's education is most important. We all know that future employers look for that something special that stands out in the never-ending barrage of resumes and portfolios. Multiple internship opportunities are available including self-created ones.
Other available options are gaining credits via Service Learning projects which dramatically reduce your tuition costs. WISPIRG also has future avenues for paying jobs within their organization and multiple networking avenues as they are closely involved with a diverse array of professionals in and around our city.
Student volunteer, Samuel Banks (who is completing an Associates in Science) recently stated at a core meeting, "We need to push for change, and we can't if we have silent voices."
Wisconsin Student Public Interest Research Group.
WISPIRG or Student PIRGs as they are referred to across the nation are "Independent, state-based student organizations that work to solve public interest problems related to consumer protection, the environment, and government reform."
Liz Zinner: WISPIRG Campus Organizer, MATC Downtown.
Claudia Jankowski, Open Textbook campaign.
Reuben Casarez, 2011 Homeless campaign.
Drew Mealey, Higher Education Campaign
Amy Parks/Japhet Banda, Energy Service Corps