A blog to keep current on MPIRG'S fight for social and environmental justice.

Monday, March 5, 2012

This is Our House

For many people myself included, the Capitol seems like a place where we don’t belong. Along with other marginalized communities, students are in need of empowerment in this arena.

Executive Director of MPIRG Josh Winters proved me and 106 other young adults wrong on Tuesday by assuring us that, “This is our house. We do belong here.”

Mr. Winters along with the rest of the MPIRG staff of Campus Organizers and Canvass members empowered high school and college students from as far away as Duluth and Morris to speak with their own legislators and let their voice be heard.

MPIRG staff has often reminded students that “If you’re not AT the table, you’re ON the table.”

As students we have been timid to address our senators and representatives because we are very new to the process. YEA Minnesota and MPIRG are working diligently to make sure that our legislators see us, hear us, and in turn, represent us.

Every year MPIRG organizes a Lobby Day where students from U of M campuses as well as Hamline, Augsburg, St. Catherine’s, and Macalester are invited to participate in trainings, issue briefings, and meetings with their legislators as constituents.

The specific issues we talked about were Voter ID, Solar initiatives, and a Recycling Refund opportunity. We all were able to hear from Representative Kate Knuth and her personal testimony of how attainable a position of office is. Winning her first election at the age of 25, Representative Knuth made a conference room full of students feel truly welcomed in the highly esteemed Capitol building.

Everyone needs to be aware that first and foremost, we all have a very important spot reserved for us at the Capitol and in the offices of our elected officials. Secondly, that if we don’t show up, if we don’t testify, if we don’t take initiative to vote or participate in caucuses, we really can’t expect to be listened to by our senators or representatives.

Thanks, MPIRG and YEA Minnesota for empowering students to get involved and be active members of society. Because, contrary to popular belief, we do care. And we will use our voices to be represented.

Written by Kate Dobson

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