Amber Davis| Staff Writer
NJPIRG has great things in store for this coming semester. This organization is a statewide, student directed, nonprofit group looking to protect the public. NJPIRG has been around since 1972 and there are just fewer than 100 student chapters of NJPIRG across the country to pass local and state resolution. In this organization, “students come together and decide what issues are the most important public issues and try and stop them “says Emily Kowalski who is the group organizer.
Rutgers Camden NJPIRG students work hard in order to get laws passed. They have had success last year on their campaign in stopping student loans from doubling. They worked so hard they attracted the attention of Rich Williams who went to congressmen in order to help the students in their fight for social justice she adds.
In order to choose which campaigns students will work on for the following semester the Rutgers Camden students vote during the core chapter meetings held on Mondays. The students make proposals and work hard to get their campaigns to be chosen. On a bigger scale, the statewide organization which is made up of all three Rutgers campuses, decides on statewide campaigns and determines up to how many campaigns each campus can run for the semester.
This semester the students plan on completing three major campaigns. This past Tuesday one of the student leaders and Vice President, Nick Jermer, spoke at a rally on behalf of a campaign the students are working on to stop Global Warming. Kristen Elansky, who is the coordinator for this campaign says, This is an issue that is affecting our environment and people need to be aware. This is always something Ive wanted to do. Kristen adds, I’ve always been environmentally conscious and work with an amazing team that gets done what it needs to in order to educate the public about this serious issue.
A year ago on March 5th, Obama announced that he wanted the EAP to set standards on coal mines and nothing has happened yet. NJPIRG is stepping in to make sure Obama’s plans do go through because they have a strong desire to see justice within our environment. “6000 students have signed a petition, that is 15 percent of the Rutgers population”, declares Kowalski. NJPIRG students are fighting hard to make a difference.
Also, the Global Warming Campaign is striving to have a movie screening on March 13th called , The Inconvenient Truth in which Al Gore educates the viewer about Global Warming.
Another campaign NJPIRG is running is the Citizens United campaign to get corporate money out of politics led by Taek Nam who is also a student leader within NJPIRG. Emily says, “We believe the elections should be about the people and not about how much corporations should spend on elections”.
Additionally, another campaign students are working on is the Hunger and Homelessness campaign led by President, Erin Small, who is a Junior here at Rutgers Camden. She hopes that this campaign will alleviate poverty. She says, Hunger and homelessness are social issues close to my heart because my major is social work and I want to be an advocate for those less fortunate. The Homelessness and Hunger Campaigns goal is to reach 5,000 dollars and they work mainly in Camden as well as other local places. Nancy adds, We are one of the richest countries in the world. We should provide the services and resources for people in need. We can do it”. Erin adds, Anybody willing to volunteer is welcome , and we hope to get other clubs affiliated with us because we provide direct care where students can get volunteer hours.
Moreover, the Hunger and Homelessness Campaign will be having a bake sale on March 12th to raise money towards their goal and on April 6th they are having a river clean up.
“The students goals are to ultimately pass an amendment” says Kowalski. Of course this will take a lot of time and effort. According to Kowalski, “this is why we have a vast amount of students involved with NJPIRG here and across the nation. There is power in numbers.
Kowalski has been working with NJPIRG for three years and helps the students learn leadership and organize successful events. She grew up very involved in her community and community involvement is something she values. She says, “I find it very inspiring to see the students being effective in politics in their communities and across the country.” Even though Kowalski is not a student she was hired by the students of NJPIRG because, “the students hire professional staff to win these campaigns”, says Kowalski. She adds, Students are actually able to be effective and make a change and there are definitely some things out there that we need to change “.
If you have a desire to be involved in your community, you can simply come to room 022 in the pit of the campus center and be a part of a campaign. The different campaigns meet on various days throughout the week, so you will be sure to find one that fits your schedule.
The Students of NJPIRG are continuing to get the organizations name out there and are constantly gaining new members. Kristin says, In joining NJPIRG there is always a skill you can learn or a new experience to be had. You will not feel like you wasted your time after being a part of a project.
Our motto is, We are to win, says Kristen. That is what NJPIRG is all about, winning not only for their names sake, but for the lives of the public.