posted 2012-09-21 18:52:56

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

As you may know, the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) is New York’s largest student directed advocacy organization and connects college students from 20 different campuses, teaching them to work on political campaigns through hands on experience. Since 1973, NYPIRG chapters have worked with countless students to win on campaigns aimed at protecting our environment, defending consumer rights and preserving funding for higher education, amongst other victories.
This fall semester will see a Presidential election, as well as elections for legislative seats on the state and federal levels. While Politicians fight for positions in Albany and D.C., issues such as tuition and student loans for higher education and hydrofracking in New York are reaching crucial moments. NYPIRG offers students a unique opportunity to get involved not only by urging their peers participate in elections through voter registration, but also help shape the public policy on current issues by attending lobby days, generating phone calls to officials, and working on massive petition drives to influence our policy makers in Albany.

At the top of the legislative agenda this year is battling back a potential increase in interest rates on student loans. Recently, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has estimated that total student loan debt is above $1 trillion in the United States, which outweighs national credit card debt. This puts students with loans at an average of $25,250 in debt, while the Pell Grant program, which offers aid to students, is being reduced. To help protect students from this overwhelming storm of debt, NYPIRG has rolled out its Don’t Major in Debt campaign, providing students with unbiased advice for pursuing student loans and other helpful information for financing a college experience.
Other top legislative priorities for the semester include preventing hydrofracking from ravaging New York, improving New York’s recycling rate while taking on the threat of garbage incineration, enacting the New York State Dream Act, and pushing for publicly funded campaigns. Of course, in addition to the legislative work, NYPIRG will offer services to the needy through the Hunger and Homelessness Outreach Campaign, and provide advice to consumers seeking justice through our Small Claims Court Action Center.

The semester will prove a productive and successful one only with the support of the student body. Those who support NYPIRG, or are interested in any of the campaigns, are coming to the General Interest Meeting, which will occur on Wednesday, September 26 at 1 p.m. in Hunter West Room 511. By getting involved with NYPIRG, you will be working to better New York, while gaining valuable skills.

Here’s to a great semester,

Amber Swain

Royce Stuteville

NYPIRG Project Coordinators at Hunter College