History behind CALPIRG
Who are the people with clipboards that stop people in the Silo?
Some of them are student members of CALPIRG, a statewide student-directed and funded nonprofit organization that works to promote civic engagement, protect the environment and make college more affordable.
CALPIRG has been on campus for 40 years. According to its website, CALPIRG helped pass the statewide ban on plastic bags and helped increase federal financial aid for college students by $36 billion. The organization has also been lobbying for various other changes, including helping California convert to 100 percent clean electricity by 2045.
So why have they been out talking to students in the Silo during the past week?
The answer lies in the history of CALPIRG.
According to Jillian Patrick, a fourth-year environmental science and management major and the CALPIRG chapter chair at UC Davis, in 1999 CALPIRG almost got the government to pass the Big Green legislation, which targeted five major pesticide companies as well as big oil, agriculture and energy companies.
“The opposition went to the UC Regents and told them ‘you have to get these students, [CALPIRG], off campus: they’re misusing money and shouldn’t be allowed to have that kind of voice on campus,’” Patrick said.
As a result of this pressure, CALPIRG was expelled from campus. Over the next two years, however, various students, members of student government and faculty came out to support CALPIRG’s return.
In 2002, CALPIRG returned to campus on a compromise. CALPIRG activities fees used to be automatically applied to every students’ term bill, but with the compromise CALPIRG has to convince individual students to opt-in to the fee through its pledge drives, which is why students may have found themselves stopped in the Silo.
According to Patrick, pledge drives are conducted every Fall and Winter Quarter and last about two weeks. During the drives, CALPIRG members come out to talk to students about their organization and ask for pledges, which is a $10 fee applied to the pledging students’ term bill.
“The compromise is a setback for us,” said Carrina Lacobacci, a third-year biomedical engineering major and a student-volunteer at CALPIRG. “It’s kind of hard for college students to donate $10.”
Despite the difficulty, CALPIRG had been consistently meeting its goal of having 10 percent of the student population pledge.
“Everytime we put gas in our car, we’re supporting big oil,” Patrick said. “Everytime we go to the grocery store we’re supporting big agriculture. This is the chance for student to put their money into something that’s really valuable. It’s like sacrificing one burrito to have student activism on campus.”
Written by: Clara Zhao — firstname.lastname@example.org