Why I’m Voting NO To Renew The MPIRG Contract

In order for a student organization to acquire extra funding for the school year, they must submit a budget proposal for approval to the people we elect every year to represent us, MCSG. We elect MCSG in part to manage and monitor a portion of our tuition called the Student Activities Fee (about $221 per student, according to Macalester’s Financial Aid Website). We pay this fee to support student organizations in an effort to foster student involvement and increase the availability of opportunities here at Macalester. Many organizations, like The Mac Weekly, undergo this process every year and need to responsibly and reasonably forecast their expenses. Like many might have heard recently around campus, MPIRG has a very favorable and unique contract.

A statewide public interest group, MPIRG is simply allowed to ignore the requirements that are mandated for all other student organizations. Instead, MPIRG receives automatic annual funding—somewhere on the order of $20,000 dollars—which leaves Macalester and becomes a part of MPIRG’s confidential budget. In other words, MPIRG takes a piece of the tuition that each and every one of us pays every semester, with little account to the student body or MCSG. MPIRG then uses this money to support various political efforts around the Minnesota area. This is, of course, unless you bother to opt out of their contract, which you can do if you take the time to reply to an obscure email sent out every semester within a small window of opportunity.

This contract is extremely advantageous for MPIRG. They are huge beneficiaries of the Macalester student body’s lack of knowledge regarding the funding of student organizations. Not a single other organization on campus can say the same. Why has Macalester granted this extraordinarily special privilege to a group that cannot even guarantee that its funding remains dedicated to the advancement of Macalester student opportunity and involvement?

I don’t think that you have to disagree with MPIRG’s platform in order to disagree with their contract. It’s unfair and affords them a great advantage over any other student organization. This vote is not even about MPIRG, at the end of the day. It is about their outrageously favorable contract. If the student body votes no, it doesn’t mean that MPIRG will vanish into thin air. It just means that they will have to follow the same rules that the rest of our student organizations do. If MPIRG decides to leave Macalester following the outcome of this referendum, it will have ultimately been their choice to do so. It is my hope that the student body will choose to bring fairness to the way all of our orgs are funded by voting no on MPIRG’s contract renewal on November 17.