Testimonials about PIRGIM
Many people are supporting PIRGIM's effort to become a chapter. Read what some of them have to say.

Students for PIRGIM is one of the most dedicated and best organized activist groups at the University of Michigan. During recent years, Students for PIRGIM has worked tirelessly on a broad range of critical issues at the campus, local, state, and national levels. Members of Students for PIRGIM provided grassroots support that helped to ensure the passage of the Ann Arbor Greenbelt initiative, and the group has also taken a leadership role in many other environmental issues, such as lobbying the state government through the Clean Water Campaign. Students for PIRGIM has represented the interests of both students and local community members by pushing the Ann Arbor city government to revisit the policy of Accessory Dwelling Units, which would help to ease the affordable housing crunch inside the city. Students for PIRGIM also played a key role in the Voice Your Vote effort to register new voters in the 2004 election, part of the organization's longtime commitment to mobilizing the youth electorate in a nonpartisan fashion. Students for PIRGIM is currently beginning a broader Renters' Rights campaign that is of crucial importance for undergraduate and graduate students here in Ann Arbor and will be a centerpiece of the agenda of a new official Public Interest Research Group chapter at the University of Michigan. I know from my personal experience working with Students for PIRGIM that the organization has passionate members and skilled leaders who are committed to activism across a broad spectrum, including issues involving the environment, consumer protection, and students' rights. The establishment of an official chapter on campus will be a pivotal moment in the history of nonpartisan political activism at the University of Michigan, and I endorse the MSA proposal of Students for PIRGIM with great enthusiasm.”
- Matt Lassiter


Letter to the Editor in February 16 Michigan Daily

All we are saying is give PIRGIM a chance

To the Daily:

I was encouraged to see the Daily endorse the bid to give Students for Public Interest Research Group in Michigan a chance to show the University community what they can do (A welcome addition, 02/14/2005). PIRGIM has a reputation for advocacy in the public interest and Students for PIRGIM are focused on perhaps the most widely encountered and problematic experience in student life — off-campus housing. The student body could benefit now and in years to come from a strong Students for PIRGIM, and I hope that the University community will rally behind its ideas and organization.

Why is it that landlords approached students in the fall of 2004, just after moving in, to sign new leases for the 2005-06 school year — almost a year away? Why is it that every year hundreds and maybe thousands of students are unfairly denied the return of their security deposits or are stuck in leases for unsanitary, unsafe or not properly maintained rentals? Students for PIRGIM is committed to asking these questions and pushing for changes that can benefit the student body. I encourage everybody to support its campaign.
- Jeff Irwin
The letter writer is a Washtenaw County Commissioner for the 11th district


Editorial in February 14 Michigan Daily

From the Daily: A welcome addition
MSA should support PIRGIM
February 14, 2005

The Michigan Student Assembly has another opportunity to augment the inadequately thin representation students receive at local and state levels of government. The Public Interest Research Group in Michigan, also known as PIRGIM, has asked MSA to help shoulder the cost of an on-campus charter. Though hardly cheap, a local PIRGIM chapter would bring needed advocacy to some of the most pressing issues facing the student body — sponsorship that would more than make up for any initial operating expenses. It has now become evident that MSA cannot do justice to its policy pledges alone. If MSA representatives are sincere about standing behind the student body, they should not hesitate to accept outside assistance.

Although it has not been funded by the University since the 1980s, PIRGIM, fortunately as an independent student organization, has been doing all it can to fight for student concerns over the last decade. Unfortunately, while lofty in its ambitions, PIRGIM has been hamstrung by a lack of resources and by and large financial isolation from its larger umbrella organization. A formal charter would give PIRGIM access to state and nationally based campaign resources as well, as a pool of professional personnel — all trained in the art of grassroots advocacy.

The group has requested $20,000 from MSA’s discretionary budget to help pay down the cost of becoming a nationally recognized charter. The money would finance a one-year test trial, whereupon MSA and the University Board of Regents would eventually determine if the organization is to receive permanent funding. During the test year, PIRGIM plans to begin work on what it highlights as its largest and most urgent campaign — student housing.

Affordable and reliable off-campus housing is undoubtedly one of the most burning issues confronting the student body. PIRGIM claims it can use its campaign resources to bring students the extra leverage necessary to pressure landlords and city officials to address the problem. As is characteristic of PIRG chapters across the nation, PIRGIM would ground any advocacy work in careful and methodical demographic research. In this light, MSA could work in conjunction with PIRGIM — supplementing the group’s advocacy approach with legal and financial support.

The organization’s scope isn’t limited to housing. High textbook prices, voting reform and urban sprawl are all issues on PIRGIM’s plate for the upcoming year. On voter reform, PIRGIM stands with State Sen. Liz Brater’s (D-Ann Arbor) idea to ease voting laws on Michigan residents and to give state employees Election Day off — teachers would be included, taking the pressure off of students to vote between classes. To confront the rising costs of textbooks, PIRGIM plans to flood publishers with bad press — hopefully encouraging more transparency from the companies and likely fostering consumer awareness about the price inequities.

Unaffordable living costs and inflated textbook prices are just two of the many troubles troubling student life at the University. MSA’s progress on these matters has been modest at best, and the need for more student representation has never been more apparent. A chartered PIRGIM on campus, with its positive reputation and potential pool of resources, could prove invaluable for students and the representatives in MSA working for them. Given its current goals for affordable housing, MSA should welcome all the help it can get.


Hey Everyone,

This vote on Tuesday is 5 years in the making. It’s taken us this long to win some campaigns, recruit the right activists, develop our message and make our mistakes. Now it all comes down to this one vote so for the next 2 days you need to bust ass and win.

I’m sure you’ve been constantly hearing about why winning a chapter is so important. More campaigns, trained organizers, advocates, etc. You all know all about the organizational advantages. To me it’s way more than just building a stronger organization. Groups like PIRG really affect the lives of its members and inspires them to do great things. Future students deserve the same opportunity.

2 year ago, Carolyn and I and a couple of PIRGIM students went to PIRGIM’s 30th anniversary dinner. We got to meet the original PIRGIM founders from the early 70s. We were honored to meet them and they were really excited to meet us. What really struck me though was that so many of these men and women, now nearing 60 years old, made their careers and dedicated their lives to the public interest. One founded the Michigan Consumer Federation, another worked on land use in Lansing, another worked with the MI Environmental Council. The list goes on. For them, their PIRGIM experiences were a pivotal chapter in their lives.

The same applies today, PIRG is why I’m in law school to be an environmental lawyer. If I had never gotten involved 5 years ago, I’d probably be a tax lawyer or something. It definitely gave a lot of us more direction in life.

PIRGIM is very near and dear to my heart and I’d give anything to be able to do more to help than just give a few words of encouragement. So win for the activists that came before you, but mostly win for the next generation of Carolyns, Pams, Reses, Bizes, and McFos. They deserve the same opportunities that we had.

Good luck!
- Duncan Hwang
PIRGIM alumni


“Students for PIRGIM as it is now has accomplished an incredible amount of good work in the past two years alone: they organized several lobby days where to facilitate much-needed interaction between students and their elected officials, played a huge part in last semester's Voice Your Vote campaign, held community-wide discussions on local land use policy, arranged forums with political candidates, were instrumental in getting the Greenbelt initiative passed and were a major presence in many local housing issues, including pressuring the university and community to construct a new residence hall. They are also the only undergraduate students I know who regularly go to City Council meetings and actually know some of our County Commissioners. However, they are capable of so much more. They are passionate about local and state-wide issues, and deserve the chance to prove how much more they can accomplish with a pilot chapter.”
- Ellen Kolasky
Environmental Issues Commission Co-Chair


If you have been paying attention at the meetings, or been reading the Daily, you would see that PIRGIM gets things done. And not just on a single issue, but a multitude of issues that help EVERY student. Work to lower textbook prices, help with housing issues, lobbying on higher education funding, it all has the possibility to help every student. How many of the proposals we've funded through the committee discretionary budget have helped every student?

The paid staff is PIRGIM's greatest strength, not a reason to vote against the proposal. I would not be in MSA right now if it weren't for the training I received from professional staff through the PIRG's. Even if you don't think the money is worth it because of the issues, PIRGIM will also train and empower hundreds of students to be able to make change.”
- Mcfo Forster


SPARK is willing to support PIRGIM because PIRGIM cares about the issues that affect students and the communities across Ann Arbor and Michigan. We truly believe that PIRGIM should be the offered the necessary support to become a full-fledged PIRG chapter. We also look forward to working with PIRGIM in the future and we feel that they are a great resource.
- Alba Arredondo


" ...The whole of PIRGIM's staff, from canvasser to advocates and field representatives in the office, are hardworking and underpaid to save money. Canvassers work a noon to 11pm day, while canvass directors work nonstop from 8am to almost midnight and through the weekend, with a salary of 19-22K. For people who claim that staff members are paid too much, they should try canvassing for a day (11 hours including five hours of walking) as well as observe the blood and sweat that the leaders in the office put into work that will improve our world.

....PIRGIM does not endorse any political candidates. Instead, it educates the public on how politicians vote on various public interest issues, from the environment to consumer protection. As for Students for PIRGIM, the organization carefully keeps with its non-partisan status. During my years at U of M, our campaigns included education about and fighting hunger and homelessness, voter registration, and clean water in Michigan. These were all public interest issues that countless students and student groups signed on to and these campaigns allowed students to have ways of getting invloved and making a difference.

As a alumnus who was very active on campus in many different communities, I fully support the funding of a PIRGIM chapter using student fees. This would allow for more students to become active and informed citizens who will stay involved throughout their lives."
- Han-Ching Lin
UofM SNRE Alumnus
Current NYC Teaching Fellow