Editor, Daily Nexus,
On Tuesday, Feb. 25, the Daily Nexus printed a general polemic against campus activism written by Cory Anthony and titled “Protesting Protesters.” This column was particularly in point for those of us at CalPIRG, since this week is our pledge week, when we bust our collective ass to get a little support from the student body of UCSB. Having myself put in several hours a day of dealing with variable weather while gathering pledges, I couldn’t help but see it as a personal attack and felt the need to respond.
Mr. Anthony makes a distinction between meaningless protest and those who “work through the system to make what they want to happen actually work.” I think this is an important distinction to make, because CalPIRG never takes up any issue without setting clear goals – whether it’s legislation that needs to be passed, mouths that need to be fed or beaches that need to be cleaned. We do not complain; we just organize and act.
To continue being effective with these projects, we need funding. The amount we ask is $5 – the equivalent of getting a drink and snack at a coffee shop, or renting a couple movies.
Students already support countless other groups through A.S. lock-in fees. Once upon a time, CalPIRG funding came directly from the university, and we didn’t have to waste our energy pledging. What happened? In 1989, the pesticide industry got upset that we were educating the public about the health risks of eating food bathed in toxic chemicals. They had a talk with then-Gov. Pete Wilson, who relayed the message to the UC Regents, who in turn yanked our funding.
Maybe you find it annoying to be approached by pledge volunteers on every corner of campus. However, you should direct your anger at the institutional powers that try to shut down any student group that starts making too much of a difference and not at the hardworking CalPIRG volunteers who clean up your environment, feed your hungry and homeless neighbors, and fight to increase your financial aid. The best thing to do would be to pledge so that we have the resources to continue these projects and even get the bureaucratic wheels turning that will move us off the pledge system and onto something more pleasant for everyone involved.