MPIRG kicks off campaign to promote voting, housing issues

Seth Woehrle

Pizzas and submarine sandwiches vanished in minutes as hungry students on the West Bank learned, in between gulps of free food, about student activism.

The Minnesota Public Research Interest Group set out the food Tuesday afternoon on the plaza to help spread the word about the organization and convince students to pay the MPIRG fee when they register for classes.

MPIRG, a nonpartisan and nonprofit student organization, kicked off its 30th anniversary campaign, which aims to address affordable housing, women’s issues, clean energy and student-voter turnout.

With city elections three weeks away, getting students to the polls was a priority for MPIRG, as well as promoting the First Avenue Youthvote Rally – a concert MPIRG sponsored Tuesday night.

MPIRG member Jake Jagdfeld, a political science senior, said the group is working on housing issues from several angles, including the organization of a Nov. 7 forum on renters’ rights and responsibilities.

“We’re going to bring in some experts from the University’s Student Legal Service and from the Minneapolis City Inspections Office to talk about some educational things: rules, regulations, rights and how to be a good tenant,” Jagdfeld said.

Education was the aim of the women’s task force as well, member Jack Norton, a third-year history graduate student, said.

“We try to bring some of the issues women are faced with in today’s society to the attention of the students,” Norton said. “The other thing we do is to try and make women aware of some of the resources available at the University.”

The organization is also working on a national level by lobbying to close what they call a loophole in the Clean Air Act of 1972.

Jason Albus, a journalism sophomore, said the act grandfathered in coal plants that existed in 1972, assuming the plants wouldn’t last long.

“It’s 30 years later and we’re trying to get these dirty coal plants to live up to today’s standards. I don’t think it’s too much to ask,” Albus said.

Kirsten Johnson, a member of MPIRG’s statewide board of directors, said she hoped the event would raise awareness of how MPIRG benefits the student community.

“A lot of the time, people have heard of MPIRG but they don’t know what we’re working on specifically,” Johnson said. “The idea was to come out and let people know what our campaign is about this year so they can get involved.”

Although many of the students disappeared at the same time as the food, Anna Krueger, a senior in communications, signed up for the MPIRG mailing list because she said she is interested in the group.

“They do a lot of really good things that students really need help with,” Krueger said. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to get involved in.”