Florida PIRG at Eckerd College – Spring 2021 Newsletter

Educating our community:

FLPIRG Students at Eckerd kicked off our semester with a number of events and actions to educate the community about student activism! During our Recruitment Drive, we made 51 class announcements about our work and how to help, allowing us to reach almost 700 students at a school with fewer than 2,000 total students. 

We also did a two-part CPS event series on Changemaking! These events dove further into the history and importance of student activism. The first event, Changemaking 101, focused on getting people familiar with and excited about student power while showing how it is at play at Eckerd and in the state of Florida. At this event, we had over 35 students in attendance! Changemaking 102 discussed specific trainings and hands-on activities that will directly translate in a professional space. We had over 35 people attend again and many were returning students from part one!  

Some of our volunteers showing their “I am a student activist” and “I support student activism” signs

Actions to protect and celebrate our environment:

A tweet by one of our student activists about the Chevron oil spill

Throughout the semester, our Planet Over Plastic campaign focused on environmental actions and education. This included writing emails and letters to the editor addressing the Chevron oil spill, expressing our support for renewable energy to President Fernandez, petitioning Whole Foods to stop using single-use plastic in their packaging, and more! During the month of April, we celebrated Earth Month with a number of fun, educational, and successful events to celebrate our planet. This included an Art Showcase entitled Art for the Ocean featuring plastic pollution themed pieces created by Eckerd students!

A piece from our Art for the Ocean event

Working with our community:

In May, our Hunger and Homelessness Campaign raised donations for St. Pete Free Clinic, a local organization that provides food, shelter, and healthcare to those in need. They organized relational organizing sessions for interns and volunteers to reach out to friends and family for donations. An informational session was also held with Ben Herring, the Volunteer and Donations Coordinator for St. Pete Free Clinic, who spoke about his role, what the clinic does, and how students can get involved. The donation drive ended with the Indie Flea Market, which was a huge success! In total, the campaign raised $700 for the clinic! 

Our Chapter worked on institutionalizing voting and voter registration on campus with the New Voters Project, with goals such as getting signatures on our student IDs so they can be used by out-of-state students to vote. We also continued our fight to ban the use of glyphosate-based products like Roundup on public land by working toward getting a resolution passed by the local city council and continuing to create partnerships with local organizations to build our coalition. 

The Planet Over Plastic Campaign recruited students from around the state of Florida to participate in a week of plastic advocacy. Over 60 students across the state lobbied elected officials, made almost 100 calls to legislators across the state, wrote over 50 Letters to the Editor all in one week to support legislation to reduce plastic waste in the state of Florida. 

Attendees of the Plastic Week of Advocacy 

Support from our students, faculty, and parents:

We are so lucky to have an incredibly supportive community around us. This semester, we took some time to run a funding endorsement drive in order to educate the community about our funding and the significance of being student-funded. This was also an opportunity for some to express why they believed that FLPIRG Students is important and deserves to continue to be funded. This generated over 100 petitions and testimonials, each. Below are a  few examples of the testimonials:

From a student:

“PIRG is an organization dedicated to making a difference in the Eckerd community that extends far beyond the scope of our campus. My friend has dedicated many hours of hard work directed toward the success of this organization. I have had the opportunity to watch her, and other students involved with the organization, make a long lasting impact for so many students. PIRG is an essential part of Eckerd’s campus, providing students the opportunity to gain new experiences in organizing, while making a difference in the Eckerd community and beyond.”

From a parent:

“I think [my daughter] is learning a great deal about leadership, motivating others, teamwork, policymaking, engagement strategies, democratic organizing and societal change from her PIRG work. PIRG is a vital part of Eckerd’s role in educating future leaders — but not just average leaders. Leadership in today’s world is more complicated than ever. Climate change has reset all that we know about economics, human development, public health and the like. PIRG is teaching Eckerd students the skills they need to lead — and thrive — through such complexity. The 2020 election and voter registration successes of the EC PIRG were, in my view, ample proof of the powerful role that the PIRG plays.”

From a professor:

“I have worked with students in the Eckerd College chapter of PIRG over many years. During this time I have been incredibly impressed with the PIRG students’ seriousness and motivation to bring positive change in our city and country. Students working with PIRG represent the best of Eckerd College–engaged and committed to apply their liberal education to help to build and protect our democracy. Of particular note, is the outstanding work EC PIRG has accomplished in voter registration and the mobilization of students to the polls. The EC PIRG record is indeed truly impressive!”