#TBT: Research, Lobbying Group Endorsed By Princeton Students

Princeton University students yesterday overwhelmingly voted to form an undergraduate-funded chapter of a national student environmental and consumer advocacy group, the first of its kind in the Ivy League.

Carl J. Mayer, student organizer of Princeton’s Public Research Interest Group (PIRG), said yesterday he believes the school’s administration will approve the proposal and establish the chapter, which would join similar groups at 200 colleges nationwide.

Financed and operated by students, PIRG chapters research and lobby to promote the “public interest” on issues like energy, environment and social justice.

Attempts to establish a Harvard PIRG chapter in 1972 and 1977 failed because administrators opposed PIRG’s funding procedure, which would add a surcharge to student term bills.

Big Money

The proposal under consideration at Princeton would add six dollars to term bills. The money could be refunded to students upon request, Mayer said.

Andrew Brown, Princeton’s dean of student affairs declined yesterday to predict the outcome of faculty and administration review of the proposal, but said the faculty “may be hesitant to accept this method of funding.”

Mayer said the school has already “set a precedent of allowing students to tax themselves on term bills for student government.

Susan Birmington, organizing director for Massachusetts PIRG, said yesterday Harvard students have tried several times to establish a chapter and have collected the signatures of over 75 per cent of the student body on petitions for a university chapter, but that trustees have vetoed the proposal.

Birmington said there are currently no Harvard students working to form a PIRG chapter, but added, “anything is possible, especially since students at Brown are preparing for a student referendum in the spring.”