MPIRG expands organization to

Travis Reed

Consumer rights organization Minneapolis Public Interest Research Group, or MPIRG, will expand its presence on the St. Paul campus with a series of meetings and events beginning this week.
Organizers say they hope to incorporate a different student demographic into the group and give St. Paul residents an opportunity to become more involved with issues ranging from bank fees to environmental preservation.
The St. Paul faction will work in conjunction with the Minneapolis campus office on organizing events.
The size of the Twin Cities campus and the number of members in the area made it imperative for MPIRG to expand efforts onto the agriculturally dominated campus, offering an alternative meeting time and place for students who spend most of their time east of the main campus.
Rachel Boeke, an MPIRG intern involved in organizing the effort, said the group will initially focus on the group’s environmental objectives because they appeal to students already involved on the St. Paul campus.
So far, seven students are coordinating events for the extension, but Boeke said they hope to have at least 20 student coordinators by the end of spring semester.
MPIRG expects an uphill battle. Boeke said it’s difficult to initiate this type of expansion because students on the St. Paul campus have traditionally been inactive in MPIRG.
“We can get almost 100 people here (at Minneapolis meetings) because people see the signs and know what MPIRG is,” she said. “But over there it’s brand new, and people aren’t used to it.”
Last week, organizers built “activist snowmen” across from the St. Paul Student Center, the first of many scheduled events to drum up support. The group will also be sponsoring a forum discussing the pros and cons of the logging industry and a series of other environmentally related presentations on the St. Paul campus in coming months.
MPIRG officials predict a bright future for the group in St. Paul because of the nature of curricula on the campus.
“There are a lot of people in St. Paul studying issues related to what we’re working on,” said Anne Olson, chair of the St. Paul activities.
The first official MPIRG meeting will take place Wednesday in the St. Paul Student Center.

Travis Reed covers environment and transportation and welcomes comments at [email protected] He can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3235.