Op-Ed: Vote YES on the CALPIRG Referenda

As the campus looks forward to elections opening on TritonLink starting April 9, it is important that students start to consider not only their picks for important A.S. Senate and College Council positions, but also how to vote on the two referenda questions on this year’s ballot.

One of the referenda measures reaffirms the campus’s support for student activism by voting to continue the voluntary funding system of CALPIRG Students at UC San Diego. I believe everyone should vote “yes” on the CALPIRG Students referendum.

CALPIRG Students is a student-directed and student-funded non-profit activism group that exists statewide on eight UC campuses. The goal of this activist organization is to implement tangible policy that will help make for a better future for everyone. This goal is achieved through running a variety of campaigns each quarter that tackle profound issues such as higher education affordability, sustainability, consumer rights, the preservation of democracy, and more.

What makes CALPIRG Students stand out as an activism organization are the successes the group is able to secure. Most recently, CALPIRG Students helped pass Prop 67, a ban on single-use plastic grocery bags across the entire state. On a local level, the Save the Bees campaign has successfully committed to the city of La Jolla to be a bee-friendly city by banning certain bee-killing pesticides such as neonicotinoids. And only a few weeks ago, CALPIRG Students worked in conjunction with ASUCSD to pass a resolution expressing support for starting an Open-Educational Resource program on campus to eliminate the high cost of textbooks in some classes. The student group is now working with the library, bookstore, and other appropriate campus partners to jumpstart a pilot program within the next few quarters to start saving students thousands of dollars. We also worked with other PIRG chapters across the country to help get a $5 million pilot program at the federal level, which is expected to save American students more than $50 million.

These campaigns are incredibly important to ensuring students have a say in issues that matter, but they are only made possible through the help of full-time, professional staff and advocates who train students with the skills needed to make a campaign successful.

This is why voting “yes” for CALPIRG Students during the Week 2 elections is imperative. The voluntary, opt-in funding system that CALPIRG Students operates on provides the organization with the resources required to train students and give them access to decision makers. It doesn’t matter if you already pledged CALPIRG or don’t want to pledge — voting “yes” indicates your support for the system and allows students to continue to choose to pledge CALPIRG in the future so the program can continue.

Those who may oppose this referendum measure typically have simple misconceptions regarding CALPIRG Students that arise due to bad research.

Ultimately, this referendum question addresses the larger issue of student activism and the importance of student voices in the legislative process. As a proponent of civic engagement and the right of all student voices to be heard, I believe that CALPIRG Students should be permitted to continue its funding system so the organization can continue to work toward progress and amplify the voices of students. It is for this reason that I encourage a “yes” vote on this referendum.

Brandon Lim, CALPIRG