CalPIRG's Power in Numbers Means Progress

Dear Editor,

With the return of the CalPIRG pledge patrol to Library Walk, some will undoubtedly be avoiding the battlefield. It seems a stark contrast to the pledging of a few weeks prior. I’ve gone through this for the past three years, and the CalPIRG pledge patrol litters the sidewalks like mines. And I, for one, think them all the more important for their obtrusiveness.

How many people can you say actively stick up for you? How many of them are strangers? Maybe I’m an exception, but there aren’t many strangers I know that are willing to look after my interests. And, as a college student, I need all the help I can get between buying $150 textbooks updated with “new” material. I just want rest, so who has time to fight all these battles over textbooks and tuition?

CalPIRG does.

To their eternal credit, they have enough minions looking out for people to actually produce results. Last year we saw the passage of Proposition 1A, a measure which green lighted a high-speed rail line from San Francisco to Los Angeles — one that will be vital in alleviating transit stress on the student population from both the UC campuses and those in the CSU system. What makes this so astounding is that it was passed in the face of a major financial crisis. CalPIRG, among others, fought hard in Sacramento, because students and other Californians needed an efficient means between Northern and Southern California. They went through all of that trouble, all of those hours of work, for others.

Say you want to protest anything (liberal or conservative). What can you do as a UCSD student? Where do you go? You could protest on campus, which, under the best possible conditions, would convince several students to your cause, but it wouldn’t be visible to lawmakers. We can neither be in Washington DC nor in Sacramento, but we can want to make a difference, to make our individual lives as students better. I may not be able to do it, but CalPIRG can. At the beginning of every quarter, my books drain me of what little I was able to save during the immediate holiday. CalPIRG has already acted on this problem by building support amongst faculty and departments to accept lower-cost textbooks. Would I — or could I — get that sort of assistance from a frat or almost anyone else?

No. For this reason, I want to urge my fellow students to talk to those people with clipboards. They will, for the next week, haunt Library Walk regardless, but by talking to them you have that much more control in guiding them to help you. Because at the end of the day, they wouldn’t be on the sidewalk talking to people about volunteering or helping if they didn’t believe it would help.

— Dorin Smith

Senior, Revelle College

CalPIRG member