There are at least 10 good reasons:
1. Students have the power to reshape our future. For 50 years, the Student PIRGs have organized students to harness that power, by sharing the tools and training it takes to make a difference.
2. In building a better, more sustainable future for all, Student PIRGs take on issues that affect everybody, not just students or any other specific group of people.
3. We focus on issues that affect the quality of our environment and our lives, not the quantity of “stuff” people have and whether that’s fair or not. We seek answers to questions such as: How do we transition to a renewable energy future? How do we eliminate plastic pollution? How do we preserve the natural world that makes our lives possible, including the pollinators without which we can’t grow much of our food? And on and on.
For example, we’re taking on America’s plastics problem and moving the country closer to zero waste by working to ban single-use foam take-out containers, plastic grocery bags and other plastic junk we can all live without. In 2019, ConnPIRG Students helped secure the passage of a statewide ban on single-use plastic grocery bags in Connecticut. Then, our organizers helped students at the University of California, Berkeley, win a commitment from the university to eliminate all non-essential single-use plastic. We’re looking to do the same thing on 50 more campuses this year.
4. In almost every campaign, we need to build enough public support to get decision makers to do the right thing. That’s why, in order to get to the way things could be — the way things ought to be — our campus organizers are always recruiting, training and developing new leaders. We build student power.
5. As good organizers, we’re always recruiting. If someone doesn’t agree with us on an issue, we try to recruit them to our point of view. If someone agrees with us, we recruit them to take action. If someone is taking action, we recruit them to become a leader. And we understand that the key to good recruiting and organizing is good listening. We don’t call out people who disagree with us. We call them in. And we’re open-minded about what they have to say.
6. As good organizers, we’re also always training. We recognize that apathy is a problem, but the bigger challenges are providing students and others with opportunities to make a difference and the tools and training necessary to make the most of those opportunities.
7. As good organizers, we’re also always developing new leaders. Sharing a meme is easy, but it’s not enough. Organizing a campaign or building a group that can really make a difference is hard. Our organizers focus on finding and developing students who can do the hard things that are necessary to make positive social change.
8. Good organizers are driven. There’s always one more person to talk to, one more text to send, one more signature to gather. Our organizers lead by example: PIRG student volunteers and interns find inspiration in our motivation, energy and commitment. We help students step out of their comfort zone so they can become effective activists and leaders.
9. Most of our funding comes from students, who make small contributions via fees at their campuses. We strive to achieve the most change possible for each dollar contributed. And we understand that non-profit work doesn’t entitle us to for-profit pay.
10. We train our organizers well, but we expect you to be self-starting, capable of working independently. The more you do the work, the more you take on, the more you contribute, the more say you’ll have in what we do and how we do it.
Things to know when you apply
The Student PIRGs work closely with The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change. Click here for things you should know about our network when you apply.