The beginning of September brought the start of a new academic year, new students, and new opportunities. We’ve spent the last month talking g to thousands of Minnesota college students about issues related to the environment, health care, affordable higher education, democracy, economic justice, and gender and sexuality. Talking with thousands of young people about pressing social and environmental issues facing society begs the question, “What can we do about it?” MPIRG is there to engage these students through our work so they can have a measurable impact on something they care about. This combination of raising awareness on important issues and providing a direct outlet through which students can engage inspired almost 500 students to attend MPIRG kick off meetings this fall. About 300 of those students will attend weekly meetings and regularly engage in our work. The remaining 200 and some additional students that will join throughout the semester will help when their schedules allow. Hundreds of dedicated student volunteers paired with an excellent staff of organizers and issue advocates teamed with one of the largest canvass operations in the state is the making of a powerful, organized movement for social change.
This weekend, we will host our annual fall retreat. More than 100 college students and MPIRG staff from across Minnesota will spend a weekend learning about and discussing important issues, electing the organization’s public policy agenda, and attending trainings on a variety of grassroots organizing and advocacy skills. This annual event serves as a way to refine the organizing and advocacy skills of our students and educate them on important issues, but it also serves as a way to build cohesion amongst the students and staff from across Minnesota so that we can better operate as an organized movement.