On the importance of the niche MPIRG serves

My name is William Theriac. I am a junior, currently abroad, focusing in the humanities, and I served last year on MCSG as a sophomore class representative and when I return in the spring I shall take up my post as a junior class representative. I am not a member of MPIRG, I have never been a member of MPIRG, and I have only attended two of their events, and I am writing this as a “private citizen.” Last year, I attended most of the negotiations between MCSG and MPIRG over the renewal of our contract and, by extension, the continuation of MacPIRG.

I say “the continuation of MacPIRG” because that is the essence of my opinion piece. While I was on MCSG last year I served on the Student Organizations Committee, and I was liaison with the media organizations. This means I was responsible for reaching out to and helping every org from The Mac Weekly—large, well liked, well used, huge impact on campus—to small orgs like the Chanter, Thistle, Mac Yarn, etc. My work with these media orgs and the many, many arguments MCSG had over funding other student orgs made it clear to me that every org needs to be funded. The Mac Weekly engages many writers, several editors and countless opinion authors every year. Chanter pulls together writings from anywhere from five to 30 students in a year. Mac Yarn, from my limited visits, brings maybe six students on a regular basis. Every single one of these student orgs serves a niche, a group of students who have a particular desire or need. And because of this, no matter how small the niche or the org, every single one of these orgs is funded because while they continue to serve some students, their existence is non-negotiable—they must exist.

That is what is at stake for MacPIRG. If we fail to pass the referendum to continue the current opt-out funding method, barring a godsend MPIRG board vote, we would be closing MacPIRG. Now, MacPIRG has approximately 20 students attend its main meetings (I don’t know about the task forces) and it puts on lots of programming which attracts and interests many more Mac students. MacPIRG serves a large and an important niche. In my eyes, after seeing the impact tiny little orgs can have on students’ lives, terminating MacPIRG simply because you don’t want to have to answer a form every year to move $12 from MPIRG to the MCSG Operating Fund seems selfish to me. Why should some Mac students, who CAN opt-out, destroy a major resource and outlet for Mac students simply because they do not want to have to opt-out? This is more a question of equality than fairness. The students who take part in MacPIRG have just as much right to pursue the continuation of MacPIRG with the funding system which we’ve had since MacPIRG’s inception (well over 10 years ago), as do the rest of Mac’s student body to join and ask for funding for any other of our 110+ student orgs.

So please, if you have questions contact me, or your MCSG representatives or MacPIRG leaders, or even those against the opt-out system, and ask us whatever questions you may have.