Students will vote on the optional Montana Public Interest Research Group fee as part of the ASUM election this week.
The $5 optional fee supports travel costs for lobbying, printing voter registration forms and comment cards, and sponsoring public events. Students can vote on the fee on the UM app April 17 and 18.
“It would keep the optional fee on student’s tuition statements. You could still opt out and not pay it, but it allows for students to choose to pay it and allows for MontPIRG to continue to exist,” MontPIRG intern Kelly Armington said. As it stands, the fee is included on students’ registration bills unless they have opted out on Cyberbear.
MontPIRG was established at the University of Montana in 1981. It is a nonpartisan organization that focuses on student involvement and representation in the government. The majority of MontPIRG’s budget comes from the student fee, but the group also does its own fundraising.
The group hires around 10 student board members, 10 student interns and utilizes volunteers every year. MontPIRG sends interns and volunteers to lobby at the state legislature, registers students to vote and asks students to sign petitions.
The group surveys students on campus both online and in person at the beginning of each academic school year about what issues or values are important to them. This year, MontPIRG focused on sustainability, University funding and empowering students to get politically involved.
In the 2018-2019 school year, MontPIRG collectively knocked on 230,000 doors in support of the 6-Mill Levy referendum and registered 2,500 people to vote, according to Armington. The group is collecting signatures to oppose current bills in the Montana State Legislature and is planning its annual fundraising event, called “Party for the Public Interest,” on April 26.