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Monday, March 4, 2024

UC Davis CALPIRG ran three campaigns during fall quarter 2023

The campaigns aimed to increase student involvement in renewable energy, voting and eliminating single-use plastics 


By RAGAVI GOYAL — campus@theaggie.org


During the fall 2023 quarter, UC Davis’ California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) has pursued various campaigns to increase student participation in a variety of topics.

CALPIRG is a statewide non-profit organization that has been operated by students across the UC system since the 1970s, according to the CALPIRG website.

“[CALPIRG chapters] started popping up all over the country on college campuses to advocate for the public interest,” CALPIRG UC Davis Campus Organizer Marea Ayala said. “Young people felt like there was a lot happening in their world that they didn’t have a whole lot of agency over and thought that [this] really shouldn’t be the case.”

CALPIRG is training the next generation of activists, advocates and organizers, according to Ayala.

“Not only should young people not have to wait until after they get their degree to make a difference on issues that they care about, but a lot of the issues that we’re working on right now are just that urgent,” Ayala said.

To achieve this mission, according to Ayala, CALPIRG has held three different pledge drives during this fall quarter: the 100% renewable energy campaign, the new voters project and the “Beyond Plastics” campaign.

The organization’s lead campaign is the 100% renewable energy campaign, where their goal is to get the entire UC system to commit to 100% clean and renewable energy by 2035.

“Last year, [the UCs] signed on to have 90% renewable energy by 2045,” Sophie Massengill, a second-year environmental policy and French double major and campaign coordinator, said. “They have committed to being mostly renewable energy based and they can do it in a shorter timeline. We’re just trying to push it to an even quicker timeline given that we have less and less time every year.”

To participate in the pledge drive, according to Massengill, students both signed physical or digital petitions stating that they support the campaign and want UC Davis to be at 100% renewable energy within this new timeline and answered questions pertaining to why they care about clean energy.

“Once we get all of these petitions, there’s a certain whole number that we have we’ll turn in to the chancellor,” Massengill said. “Because the UC system is such a big and influential system, we really believe that if they make this commitment, it’ll cause a really big ripple effect of just a lot of other influential places making this change.”

The new voters project, which is the second campaign operated by CALPIRG, aims to institutionalize voting on campus, according to first-year political science major and CALPIRG Head Chairperson and Campaign Coordinator Rena Cohen.

“Our work basically involves reminding people that you have to show up at the polls and a lot of voter coalition work with some other organizations on campus,” Cohen said. “[We] try to target students at every avenue to reach out to them and tell them that they should vote.”

Cohen said that CALPIRG got over 20,000 students to show up at the polls for the 2020 elections and they have a similar strategy for the 2024 campaign.

Calpirg’s third campaign of the quarter, Beyond Plastics, revolves around getting the Davis City Council to ban single-use plastics in Davis, according to second-year environmental science and management major, CALPIRG Vice Chairperson and Beyond Plastics Campaign Coordinator Caitlin Perea.

“I am going to get student support and public support and try to get restaurant sign-ons as well and then lobby directly with Davis City Council,” Perea said.

The goal is to get support through petitions and social media and ultimately have a meeting with the Davis City Council to show them all of the support that there is for the cause, according to Perea.

All three campaigns are running throughout the fall 2023 quarter. Students can sign petitions through the UC Davis CALPIRG Instagram and website.

“A lot of issues that we work on are profound and students want to, can and should make a difference on them right now and CALPIRG enables them to do that,” Ayala said.


Written by: Ragavi Goyal — campus@theaggie.org



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