Poverty, global warming and high textbook prices are all due for a solution, and the UCSB chapter of the California Research Public Interest Group claims it has the answers, but just needs a few more bucks.
Interns for CALPIRG have been stationed around campus since Monday and will be through Friday, encouraging students to add a $5.00 per quarter CALPIRG fee to their UCSB registration bill. The $5.00 fee pays the salaries of the scientists, lawyers and organizers who work full time with students on campus, as well as the operational expenses, including office space and materials.
Public Interest Research Groups, or PIRGS, are student organizations that operate independently on campuses across the country to find solutions to public interest problems.
“We really make a difference,” Carley Klekas, a fourth-year psychology major and CALPIRG intern, said. “Last quarter, we stopped oil drilling in Los Padres National Forest. People think that we are just students and can’t really do anything, but we can.”
One of the group’s central campaigns this year is the Campus Climate Challenge, the purpose of which is to convert UCSB’s sources of electricity to clean energy such as wind or solar power. Another is the Make Textbooks Affordable campaign, which seeks to pressure textbook publishers into lowering prices. One tactic of this campaign is to advocate of online book trading websites where students can buy and sell books for a cheaper price.
CALPIRG must have an average of 20 percent of UCSB students pledge in a given school year for its chapter to remain on campus and to continue researching and funding its various campaigns. Students can withdraw their pledge at anytime by filling out a form at the front desk of the Office of Student Life.
According to Garo Manjikian, campus organizer for CALPIRG, 1,400 students pledged for CALPIRG last Winter, in addition to those already signed up, and 30 students over the course of the year chose to withdraw their pledges. Currently, 3,800 UCSB students are committed to paying funds to CALPIRG.
According to its website, CALPIRG led the campaign that resulted in the state adopting the California Solar Initiative. Its members also raised $10,000 after Hurricane Katrina for local relief efforts and organized volunteer trips to the affected gulf coast region.
“It is a great outlet for students to get involved in things they care about,” said Tessa Atkinson-Adams, chair of the UCSB chapter of CALPIRG and second-year political science and environmental studies major.