When I first arrived at Mac I had no idea that for the next four years I would be presumed a willing donor to a political organization I’d never heard of. What’s more, it took three years for me to discover that indeed, through the opt-out policy, a substantial chunk of Macalester students’ contributions slated to back student orgs has been automatically funding MPIRG.
The student activity fee is an important policy that funds all student organizations on campus. However, while many orgs struggle to get meager amounts of additional funding, MPIRG bypasses the standard budgeting process through a special contract. Consequently, they receive about $22,000 each year from Macalester students who do not opt out of an automatic $12 annual contribution. This system takes advantage of all students, Democrat or Republican, active in groups or not, who for some reason or another did not take the time to open the obscure link tucked away in one of the numerous Macalester emails received daily.
Through a bit of research I’ve found that I support much of MPIRG’s work, but it’s truly a shame that a good organization like this would be marred by such a blatant trespass of fairness and common sense. It does not matter what things, good or bad, MPIRG has done as an organization—nor does its size, influence or nature. All that is relevant is that MPIRG is the only organization on campus that receives funding from students through special privilege, nearly as much funding as all cultural orgs combined.
Worse, this special privilege is only maintained through deceitful means of profiting from apathetic students that are not politically active, or perhaps didn’t get the chance to read an email in time. The students I’ve spoken to about this issue have immediately understood that the current opt-out system is unfair. It is essentially financially suppressing all student orgs to prop up one single group, MPIRG, which is not even directly a Macalester organization, but rather a statewide one with its head office in Minneapolis.
So what can be done to ensure that MPIRG does not thrive by limiting Active Minds, Amnesty International, Mac Dems, Colleges Against Cancer and every other Macalester organization?
You can vote against the MPIRG contract November 17th. If this contract gets voted down, our student government will be in a position to negotiate a contract that is beneficial to all student organizations, not just MPIRG.
A negated contract would annul the current opt-out system. This means that Macalester students will no longer have to become politically informed and alert to protect their money from being handed over to political groups.
One of MPIRG’s recent campaigns, from their website, reads: “The problem of money in politics has only gotten worse after years of unfavorable court decisions undermining campaign finance laws. MPIRG is working to bring this issue to light through pro-democracy reforms at the State Capitol. By organizing against undisclosed contributions to political campaigns, we can have the necessary information to hold elected officials accountable to the public interest, rather than the interests of big money.” I affirm that by organizing against automatic contributions to MPIRG, we the student body can enable MPIRG to uphold its values and work in the public interest with dignity and fairness.