Too often have we seen big corporations take a foothold in places where they are not needed. Whether it is the American Chemistry Council, textbook publishers, big agricultural industries or other special interest groups, we as students do not want to become their subjects. We look for accountability in the actions of individuals, so why have we not looked for accountability with these corporate industries? CALPIRG fights for this accountability. Working on the implementation of a textbook rental program in our bookstore, educating K-12 students on energy efficiency, gaining $17 billion in Pell Grants and raising awareness on famines across the globe, CALPIRG has been a voice for students to address the injustices they see in our world.
CALPIRG was not formed as some overnight sensation. Back in 1971, students from the University of Oregon decided that they needed a voice in the political trenches of our state and national government. Though a student’s voice is powerful, the foresight of being able to equalize a playing field that had been solely dominated by powerful corporate lobbyist began. In order to make a true impact, these students formed the first PIRG (Public Interest and Research Group) in the hopes of creating a unified student voice that could be relayed to the thousands of politicians. Fast forward to today: We have PIRG chapters all across the nation being funded by students, which allows PIRG to have a powerful voice to stand up against the billions of dollars big corporations spend to influence our local, state and national legislators.
UC Davis has been a host to CALPIRG since 1996. In that time, we have developed many leaders through the support of our professional staffers lending a helping hand in planning our campaigns as well as our actions that we take. However, the students of CALPIRG ultimately have the decision-making power to create and launch campaigns to create changes in government. Through the support of 20 percent of students here at Davis pledging $10 a quarter, CALPIRG is able to win all of these campaigns that students care about. This year, we as a statewide student body decided that the most recognizable campaign we could accomplish would be to ban single-use plastic grocery bags.
There is a mass of trash twice the size of Texas floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It kills millions of seabirds and sea animals every year. This mass of trash comes from a lot of items we do not even need. One of the biggest culprits is the single-use plastic grocery bag. We as Californians pump out 12 billion plastic bags a year! That is enough to reach the moon and back nine times! We want students to take charge on this campaign, so if you feel strongly about these campaigns show your support to CALPIRG.
In a time where it is more important than ever to invest in the inner workings of America, why would you not invest in a voice for students among a sea of corporate red tape? As we say here at CALPIRG: “Together we can make change happen.”