You have likely heard of CALPIRG along Library Walk or in one of your classes. Many of you have undoubtedly been asked to pledge money towards CALPIRG. So what is CALPIRG?
The California Public Interest Research Group is a student directed and funded non-profit organization, with over 16,000 student members in California. Whether it is establishing the nation’s first recycling programs, creating a state library for open-sourced textbooks or pushing Congress to increase Pell Grants by $36 million, CALPIRG has been the voice for college students standing up to powerful special interests for over 40 years.
Easy commonsense solutions exist for many of our problems today, but they are far too often undermined by the influence of oil companies, banks, agribusinesses, etc. Without an effective voice standing up to counter this power, what kind of future can we expect to live in?
Political, social and economic change has often begun with passionate youth who want to make the world a better place. However, it is hard for college students to simply begin changing the world without some direction. That is where CALPIRG comes in. With CALPIRG, students are able to hire professionals to research solutions to the world’s issues, organizers on campus who impart their skills directly on students by teaching them how to be powerful agents for change and advocates who work full time in Washington D.C. and Sacramento to make sure student voices are heard in the public arena. Altogether this builds student power to not only fight for our interests, but the public’s interest as a whole.
So how does CALPIRG do all that? After all, professional full-time staff cannot work for free. In order to keep maintain the organization, thousands of students pledge $10 per quarter on their tuition bill to fund CALPIRG. Not only does this keep the organization accountable to students, but pledging gives students the power and resources to make a difference on issues that are critical to our everyday lives; cleaner beaches, less air pollution, cheaper textbooks and reducing the power of mega-donors who threaten to drown out our voices in elections.
Over the next two weeks CALPIRG will be running its pledge drive, with a goal of getting 1,200 new members here at UCSD. Because of our contracts with the university, we are at risk of losing all of our funding if we do not reach this number. That is why it is so important we get support from you.
As young people we are inheriting a lot of problems: the high cost of education, steep levels of unemployment and a degraded planet. But the future is ours. If we care to do so, we can make sure that the world we leave is better off than the one we were given. History shows that when the student voice unites, we can make a difference. Make sure your voice is heard. Pledge CALPIRG.
— Meryl Press
Sixth College, Freshman