MPIRG chooses issues

Lynne Kozarek

The Minnesota Public Interest Research Group allocated $30,000 at a 12-hour meeting last Saturday for a full-time land use advocate.
Money was one of several issues the organization discussed at the meeting. The groups also allocated funds for hiring an advocate to work for environmental and women’s issues. Once filled, the position will last nine months.
MPIRG organizations from campuses around Minnesota had decided to focus their 1997-1998 agenda and budget on land use, environmental justice and women’s issues at a meeting earlier in the week.
Heather Cusick, executive director of MPIRG, said the organization chose to focus on these issues because they are pertinent to the student body.
“We are very excited about this,” Cusick said. “We are eager to take larger concepts and put our eyes on a tangible focus.”
In addition to the new core issues, MPIRG would like to continue its focus on the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Voyageurs National Park. The past year’s involvement included grass-roots participation and spirited dialogue between MPIRG organizations in Minnesota.
Increased toxic wastes, lack of tree growth in low-income areas and other environmental injustice concerns are among other issues MPIRG wants to investigate in the coming year. These issues arise primarily in low-income, minority areas, Cusick said.
“There is nothing Minnesotans hate more than facing their own racism,” she said. “We will be doing some mapping and then some priority cleanup in low-income areas.”
While MPIRG has chosen to focus on many issues during the upcoming year, there are mixed feelings about whether the organization deserves support from student services fees.
Karie Pitzl, a freshman in the College of Liberal Arts, said she doesn’t mind that some of her student services fees are used to support MPIRG.
“It doesn’t bother me,” Pitzl said. “I think their issues are good and important.”
However, Kari Rosin, a junior in the College of Education and Human Development, said MPIRG could focus on more important needs.
“These issues (that they have chosen) are important, but I think there are other issues they could be spending time on,” Rosin said.
Rosin said she would like MPIRG to focus on issues such as eliminating domestic violence.
Students have the option of receiving a refund for the portion of their student services fees that MPIRG receives.