History

In addition to providing students with a valuable educational experience, the Student PIRGs have also served as a vehicle for students to win concrete solutions to society’s problems. These are just a few accomplishments from the past fifty years:

Timeline

2022
WashPIRG Students helps pass a bill to create a prescription drug affordability board which will set prescription drug price limits to protect patients.
CALPIRG Students helps pass multiple state laws to reduce plastic waste in CA, including a comprehensive producer responsibility bill to hold plastic polluters accountable.
MaryPIRG at the University of Maryland helps pass legislation committing the state to net zero emissions by 2045.
NJPIRG helps Rutgers University make a commitment to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, carbon neutrality by 2040, and zero carbon from purchased electricity by 2030.
MASSPIRG Students wins commitment from UMass Amherst to become 100% renewable powered by 2032.
2021
MaryPIRG Students help pass the Hunger-Free Campus Act in Maryland.
Hosted #YouthEarthWeek with over 270 events around the country
Florida PIRG Campus Action blocks an automatic textbooks billing plan at the University of Central Florida
Helped introduce the federal Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act of 2021, the most comprehensive bill to address the plastic pollution crisis ever introduced in Congress.
Helped pass a ban on retail sale of bee-killing “neonic” pesticides in Massachusetts.
Rallied the support of 150 student leaders and successfully passed a Student Loan Borrowers Bill of Rights in Massachusetts.
2020
Reached more than 1 million young people and made nearly 400,000 personalized peer-to-peer get-out-the-vote contacts to turn out the youth vote for the 2020 Presidential Election.
Helped convince the University of California system to phase out single-use plastics including cups and water bottles.
Trained more than 700 student interns virtually to turn out the youth vote and make sure students vote safely.
Helped stop a proposed merger between textbooks publishing giants Cengage and McGraw-Hill
CALPIRG Students win the American Climate Leadership Award for their 100% Renewable Energy campaign.
Launched 3 new campaigns to address the COVID-19 pandemic – #PledgeToStayHome, Meeting Basic Student Needs, and Making sure that everyone who needs a test, gets one.
Transitioned program to be entirely remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Got Rutgers Newark to ban single-use plastic bags in on-campus dining establishments.
Successfully urged the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill to shift away from single-use plastic bags on campus and single-use plastic cups at sporting events.
2019
Helped pass a ban on polystyrene foam cups and takeout containers in Eugene, OR.
Helped pass SB72 which expanded election day registration across the state of California.
2018
Convinced the University of California system to commit to 100% renewable electricity by 2025.
Helped pass SB100 in California which committed the state to 100% renewable electricity by 2045.
Helped convince Dunkin’ Donuts to phase out use of polystyrene foam cups by 2020
2017
In the 2017 budget proposal, the U.S. House proposed cutting $3.3 billion from the Pell Grant program. MASSPIRG Students and Student PIRG volunteers came together to generate more than three thousand calls and petitions to their Senators urging them to stop this enormous cut to financial aid, ensuring that it did not become law.
The Student PIRGs launched the Open Textbook Alliance, which works with student governments nationwide to pass policies supporting the adoption of free open textbooks. It seeks to replicate successful programs like the ones at UMass Amherst and UConn Storrs that have saved students millions of dollars.
2016
Chris Lindstrom, USPIRG’s Higher Education Program Director, worked in a Department of Education negotiated rulemaking session to craft the “borrower defense” program. It investigates complaints from students who have been taken advantage of by predatory lenders and for-profit schools, like Corinthian College and ITT Tech, and allows them to get some or all of their loans forgiven.
In California, we collected thousands of petitions, held nearly a dozen press conferences, and helped pass Prop 67 which finalized California’s plastic grocery bag ban – the first statewide ban of its kind in the country.
In Massachusetts, we passed city council resolutions in Salem and Dartmouth to move towards 100% renewable energy, and successfully lobbied our State Representatives to raise the cap on solar which will provide enough new clean energy to power over 100,000 homes in across the state.
In Oregon, we helped pass the Coal to Clean bill which will double Oregon’s clean energy usage and get the entire state off all coal by 2030.
In California, we blocked utility efforts to gut the state’s strong solar energy incentives.
2015
WashPIRG Students helped gather signatures to qualify the Honest Elections Initiative for the ballot, then helped canvass and phonebank to pass the initiative in November.
Convinced McDonald’s and Subway to stop serving meat raised on the routine use of antibiotics
2014
CALPIRG helped ban plastic grocery bags in Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Santa Cruz, Davis and Santa Barbara and helped pass the first statewide ban.
2011
Generated thousands of calls and petition signatures to stop H.R. 1, a federal budget that included a $5.7 billion cut to the Pell Grant program.
2010
Helped pass new law to lower health care costs for families including young adults by allowing them to stay on their parents’ coverage until age 26
Helped pass the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, which among other things, adds $36 billion into the Pell grant program
2009
Helped pass strong legislation that will end some of the worst abuses of the credit card industry, including some which are often targeted at college students
2008
Helped pass provisions to lower the cost of textbooks for millions of students
MASSPIRG helps pass the Global Warming Solutions Act, which requires reduction of greenhouse gases emissions from the Commonwealth by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050
CALPIRG helps pass Prop 1A, an initiative to build a high-speed rail line connecting California’s major cities
Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project helps register 118,000 young voters and contacts 440,000 voters to turn them out to the polls
2007
Student PIRGs’ What’s Your Plan? Campaign talks to the presidential candidates over 100 times on the campaign trail, to ask them about their plans for global warming and higher education
Helped pass the College Cost Reduction and Access Act through Congress, the largest higher education bill in decades
WashPIRG helps pass the College Textbook Transparency Act, requiring publishers to disclose book prices when marketing textbooks to professors
2006
Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project helps register 75,000 young voters and makes 94,000 get-out-the-vote contacts to get youth out to the polls
CALPIRG helps pass the Million Solar Roofs bill and Global Warming Solutions Act, making California a leader in the fight against global warming
WISPIRG helps pass new law requiring that 10% of Wisconsin’s energy come from renewable sources by 2015
ConnPIRG helps win new law requiring that publishers disclose textbook prices to faculty
2005
In response to Hurricane Katrina, PIRG students across the country raise hundreds of thousands of dollars and send hundreds of volunteers to the Gulf Coast to help with rebuilding efforts
WashPIRG helps pass new rules requiring cleaner cars to be sold in Washington
MASSPIRG passes new energy efficiency standards for common appliances
The New Voters Project contributes to dramatic increases in youth voter turnout in New Jersey and Virginia’s off-year gubernatorial elections
2004
WashPIRG helps pass I-297, which prevents more nuclear waste from being dumped at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation
The Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project helps register 524,000 young voters and works to turn them out to the polls
ConnPIRG helps win new law to require cleaner cars be sold in Connecticut
MaryPIRG passes new energy efficiency rules and a law to require that more of the state’s energy come from clean, renewable sources
2002
U.S. PIRG helps win critical Senate vote blocking drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
U.S. PIRG efforts are instrumental in defeat of dirty energy bill
Ohio PIRG student activists help win $15 million to move schools off toxic waste dump
NJPIRG Student Chapters win city inspections of rental housing in New Brunswick
Statewide coalition including ConnPIRG wins cleanup of state’s dirtiest power plants
CALPIRG and coalition win law to ensure 20 percent renewable energy by 2017 in California
2001
Ohio PIRG and PIRGIM help win federal two-year moratorium on Great Lakes drilling
Coalition including NJPIRG wins campaign requiring GE to clean up Hudson River PCBs
MASSPIRG wins nation’s strongest power plant emissions regulations
MASSPIRG helps win rules to reduce pollution from diesel trucks and buses by 90 percent
MaryPIRG helps win law to clean up brownfields
CALPIRG-backed law helps victims of identity theft to correct financial records
CALPIRG helps win law providing $850 million for energy conservation and renewable energy
2000
WISPIRG helps win nation’s strongest law to control polluted runoff
President Clinton announces PIRG-sponsored plan to protect 60 million acres of national forests
1999
WashPIRG helps block Cross-Cascades pipeline
CALPIRG leads efforts to win California Clean Water Enforcement and Pollution Prevention Act
1998
Student working with Arizona PIRG, CALPIRG, ConnPIRG, INPIRG, Maryland PIRG, MASSPIRG, MoPIRG, MontPIRG, NJPIRG, Ohio PIRG, PennPIRG, WashPIRG, and WISPIRG win law requiring colleges to distribute voter registration forms to students
MASSPIRG and AmeriCorps launch Massachusetts Community Water Watch, which organized more than 180 river cleanups
CoPIRG helps win inclusion of light rail in Denver’s 20-year transportation plan
1997
MaryPIRG helps win law to promote redevelopment of urban brownfields
CoPIRG backs governor’s winning proposal for 700-square-mile urban growth boundary around Denver
1996
MASSPIRG wins passage of law to give consumers profiles of their doctors
MASSPIRG helps win River Protection Act
MASSPIRG helps recycle 500,000 pounds of newspapers on Boston-area subway platforms
MaryPIRG helps double acreage of state’s protected wildlands
1995
WashPIRG advocacy strengthens Seattle’s “Buy Recycled” policy
Arizona PIRG, CALPIRG, ConnPIRG, INPIRG, Maryland PIRG, MASSPIRG, MoPIRG, MontPIRG, NJPIRG, Ohio PIRG, PennPIRG, WashPIRG, and WISPIRG deliver 1.2 million petition signatures to Congress, helping stop rollback of environmental laws
CoPIRG sprawl study helps convince state to fund purchase of open spaces
1994
NJPIRG and AmeriCorps launch NJ Water Watch, which has conducted more than 300 river cleanups, removed nearly 800 tons of trash, and educated more than 80,000 students
MoPIRG and OSPIRG win ballot initiatives setting low campaign contribution limits
CALPIRG helps win law blocking new offshore drilling
1993
MoPIRG wins energy-efficiency plan for Missouri buildings
CoPIRG convinces newspaper publishers to double use of recycled newsprint
1992
CoPIRG helps win Colorado Clean Air Act
1991
CALPIRG helps win law to limit childhood lead exposure
1990
NJPIRG leads coalition effort winning nation’s toughest Clean Water Enforcement Act
ConnPIRG helps win law creating funding to clean up Long Island Sound
1989
MoPIRG helps win Missouri Safe Drinking Water Act
MASSPIRG opens Consumer Action Center, saving consumers an average of $140,000 each subsequent year
MASSPIRG authors and wins passage of Toxics Use Reduction Act
1988
WashPIRG helps win referendum creating one of nation’s strongest toxic waste cleanup laws
CoPIRG leads successful campaign to pass Colorado Safe Drinking Water Act
1987
MASSPIRG helps win credit card industry Truth In Advertising Law
1985
Student PIRGs and USA for Africa launch National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness
CALPIRG wins law to help ensure car manufacturers must install airbags
1984
The PIRGs’ newly launched National Student Campaign for Voter Registration helps register 750,000 student voters in its first year
CoPIRG leads successful campaign for “Motor Voter Initiative”
1983
MASSPIRG and MoPIRG pass state Superfund laws
1980
MoPIRG’s Community Energy Program helps tenants in Missouri weatherize their apartments
1979
ConnPIRG helps win Connecticut Bottle Bill
1976
MoPIRG helps establish Missouri’s Small Claims Court System
CALPIRG wins improved access to hospital care for the poor
CALPIRG creates Consumer Education Program with City of San Diego
1974
CoPIRG helps win law protecting consumers from rental agency rip-offs
1973
OSPIRG work helps shape goals for Oregon’s seminal land use planning program
OSPIRG wins ban on credit discrimination against women in Oregon
1970
INPIRG helps win landlord-tenant law in Bloomington, Indiana