Opinion

A scientifically non-biased view of the MPIRG contract

I am a senior chemistry major who has managed to avoid the spotlight of political onslaught during my time at Macalester. I prefer concerning myself with the fields of science and mathematics, areas based heavily on objective truths and observations. However, the unfairness of the MPIRG contract is as objective as possible within the political domain. To me, this particular issue goes beyond politics; it is about fairness. As a result, I would like to add my voice to those on campus who disagree with the current MPIRG contract.

The opt-out policy that currently provides MPIRG with its annual $22,000 from Macalester College is a system that preys on the ignorance of the average student contributor. The majority of students on campus that I have talked with about this issue were unaware of their yearly contribution to MPIRG, and many were unaware of what MPIRG even is. No self-proclaimed democratic organization that I know of makes it a practice of taking constituent money without explicit consent. To me, it is disturbing that this organization has been able to make this a practice at Macalester since the 1970s.

I would like to halt here, and say that I normally have absolutely nothing against MPIRG. Honestly, I would feel pretty bad if MPIRG decided to leave campus upon having the contract voted down. In an ideal situation, MPIRG would remain on campus with an opt-in policy, something MPIRG should theoretically agree with if they truly believe that their funding comes from informed students. To accurately assess the situation, people need to look at the issue from a non-biased and open-minded standpoint, considering the fairness of the issue alone. By letting our political leanings cloud our judgment of fairness, we are inviting political corruption. In the laboratory, drawing a conclusion from the desire for particular results would be immediately refuted and scorned by the scientific community. This should be no different when evaluating the fairness of the MPIRG contract.

As my first piece of public writing, I have had a difficult time in writing this article. What has made it more difficult, however, is my lack of ability to play devil’s advocate on myself. I have struggled to come up with a good argument for voting “yes” on the contract. The only arguments I have heard from students in support of the MPIRG contract have been based solely on their support of MPIRG itself. These same people would obviously be up in arms if a conservative-leaning organization held the same privilege of opt-out funding. I honestly am hoping that during the campaign period MPIRG will put out a valid argument that refutes mine, and I will keep an open mind in the case that one exists. Unfortunately, I cannot conceive of one because my principles tell me that the ends do not justify the means.

Ultimately, the upcoming vote is one on the fairness and transparency of funding to student organizations, and politics should be kept out of the discussion. I have been pleasantly surprised to see friends on both sides of the political spectrum in agreement over this topic. I was raised in a liberal (and what I would call progressive) household, but once again I cannot afford to let this affect my vote. So, from a non-biased and somewhat scientific viewpoint, I declare that I will be voting “NO” on November 17, and encourage others to do the same.

November 14, 2014

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