Frequently Asked Questions

What is MaryPIRG?

MaryPIRG is a student-led, student-funded, non-partisan, advocacy group that has been working to make real change at UMD for over 45 years. We work on issues like preserving the environment, protecting public health, restoring our democracy, alleviating poverty, and making college more affordable. MaryPIRG combines student activism with the expertise of professional staff that train and work alongside students to educate the public, build grassroots support, and lobby decision makers to act.

Who is Part of MaryPIRG?

Any student is welcome to join our programing at any involvement level. Our organization is made up of student volunteers, interns, and leaders who work on our campaigns and make change! 

What Does MaryPIRG Do?

We run campaigns on issues that are in the public interest. This can take a variety of forms, but usually involves advocates working directly with decision makers in Annapolis or Washington DC, along with students and organizers working in communities to build and demonstrate public support for our solutions. Through that, we get results. For example, we recently partnered with Swipe Out Hunger to pass the Maryland Hunger Free Campus Act which helps provide funding for student hunger resources like food pantries and SNAP navigators for campuses across the state.

This spring our campaigns are: MaryPIRG Student Climate Action Coalition, Zero Hunger, Public Health, Save Antibiotics, and Affordable Textbooks. READ MORE ABOUT THE CAMPAIGNS HERE

Is MaryPIRG nonpartisan? 

Yes! We work on a variety of issues that students care about but we do not side with a specific group, politically party, or individual. We are excited to work with anyone and everyone to make real change on our campaigns. 

How do you choose what you work on? 

Every campaign we run is first proposed by a student, discussed, and voted on by the attendees of our campaign selection meetings. As per our bylaws, any student at UMD may attend our meetings, contribute to discussion, propose a campaign, and take on leadership. Once campaigns are proposed and voted on, they are approved by our student board of directors which is a 5 member committee of UMD students who are elected by their peers during one of our meetings. 

How is MaryPIRG Funded?

MaryPIRG is funded through a portion of the Student Activities Fee, allocated by the Student Government, which we use to hire professional staff to work with and on behalf of us to win our campaigns. Every two years we have a referendum question on the SGA ballot that asks the student body to reaffirm their support of our funding. This process ensures that we, the students, decide how best to spend our resources on issues that they care about, such as making college more affordable, registering students to vote, and protecting the environment. For school year 2021-2022 we will apply for an allocation of $34,040.44. That works out to about $1.30 per student per year. 

Why Does MaryPIRG Hire Staff? 

The problems that MaryPIRG undertakes are large, statewide, even national in scope. Our goals are not simply for students to “make their voice heard” on these issues, but to win concrete reforms that improve people’s lives. In order to make real, substantial change, we need organization and resources. Staff are an important part of having an effective statewide organization. They bring expertise to student’s ideas and continuity to long term student campaigns.

How Does MaryPIRG Benefit UMD Students?   

MaryPIRG activities, campaigns, and internships are open to the whole community. Additionally, we want to work with other groups to help support other work going on at UMD. Our organizer is available to everyone on campus and has helped to provide training and provide a sounding board. 

Internships + Volunteering

Every student is welcome to join us as a volunteer and every student is invited to apply for internships. Not everyone who applies for an internship will be ultimately accepted but everyone is still welcome to volunteer, attend events, and participate in meetings, training, and other activities. 

How does MaryPIRG reach out to other groups and the campus community? 

During the first few weeks of school each semester, we run a recruitment drive and host a kickoff meeting to educate the campus about our work and provide opportunities for students to volunteer or join our internship program. We also devote time to reach out to other groups to partner with us on campaigns throughout the year and host events. While we are remote, we do our best to contact people via social media, phone, and email. 


Helen ZhangSenior AdvisorChinese Student Association
Casey OttenwaelderCo-founderUSAS Local 54
Priscilla LeePresidentAlpha Omega Epsilon
Saba TshibakaCo-founder & OrganizerBlack Terps Matter
Amy RiveraPLUMAS PresidentPolitical Latinx United for Movement and Action in Society
Garrett HillCampus Outreach CoordinatorYDSA at UMD
Golshan JalaliMedia & Digital Communications CoordinatorUMD Office of Community Engagement
Jerry PengPresidentBadmiton Club
Patrick WojhanMayorCollege Park
Anna KaplanCo-PresidentChallah for Hunger
Andrew Mackenzie FellowsFacultyUMD; College of Information Studies
Jackie BlairTerp Thon Executive DirectorTerp Thon
Lizzie MafriciPresidentPSA
Cayla RobinsonHistorianUMD NOMAS
Hannah AalemansourGroup LeaderUMDTenants
Afroditi KatsigiannakisPresidentLiving for the Planet at UMD
Laura SchnitkerCurator; Adjunct ProfessorSchool of Music; Special Collections & University Archives
Laura CofskyCommunications DirectorChesapeake Climate Action Network
Madeline ReddingGeneral ManagerWMUC Radio
Telon YanCo-marketing CoordinatorLean On Me College Park
Mark BarnesAssociate ProfessorGeographical Peoples Society
Vivian FlanaganPresidentStudents Engaged in Public Health (SEIPH)
Mong-Han HuangAssistant ProfessorDepartment of Geology, UMD
Mike DiDonatoPresidentIFC
Spencer LockhartPresidentDelta Sigma Phi
Alex BienPresidentBeta Theta Pi
Ryan MiglerPresidentZeta Beta Tau Fraternity
Connor SheaPresidentPhi Kappa Tau
Joe AndersonPresidentAlpha Tau Omega Fraternity
Tyler BrionesPresidentSigma Nu
Isaac RosePresidentSigma Phi Delta