posted 2012-03-07 21:13:02

NYPIRG Urges Hunter Students to Get Involved

Student meeting promotes activism and grassroot campaigning

Eugene Ostrovskiy, Staff Writer

On Feb. 29 the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPRIG) held a student action meeting to raise awareness regarding important issues affecting Hunter students. The meeting urged students to wake up and get involved. Through the promotion of grassroots campaigning, NYPIRG hosted the student meeting to brainstorms ways to challenge and overcome issues Hunter students commonly face.

During the student action meeting Megan Ahearn, the program coordinator for NYPIRG, cited tuition hikes, poor MTA service and healthcare as examples of how everyday people, especially students, are affected. Ahearn also emphasized how crucial the current time period is for activism, and discussed the emergence of diverse grassroots protests in response to various injustices all around the world.

NYPIRG is primarily concerned with local and state issues such as homelessness, hunger, cuts in education, rising costs of textbooks, improving our transit system, hydraulic fracturing (commonly known as fracking) and shutting down Indian Point (a nuclear power plant north of the city). NYPIRG is hoping to win the support of more Hunter students to keep fighting for its goals. “Right now more than ever, students have to come together to tackle some really important issues.” Said Megan Ahearn. “It’s fun and makes a difference.”

The NYPIRG members asked students in attendance to organize themselves based on what issues they were interested in addressing. Approximately 20-30 students divided into smaller groups, which focused on the environment, homelessness and education. Each group then held a brainstorming session as well as a discussion of methods used to address the issue and upcoming events, some of which are at Hunter College.

Andrew Joyce, a sophomore who just transferred from the University of Idaho, led the group that focused on environmental justice. After the group brainstormed ways to help the environment, he explained NYPIRG’s current campaign strategy and progress.

One of their strategies is referred to as “Call Cuomo Tuesdays,” in which they encourage as many students as possible to call Governor Cuomo on Tuesdays and ask him to help the environment, among other causes. There will also be an upcoming panel presentation on nuclear energy in New York State and there will a tabling event at Hunter featuring No Impact Man, a documentary about reducing one’s impact on the environment.

Regarding student involvement in the environment and NYPIRG, Andrew Joyce said, “If you are concerned about the environment and want to be involved at the student and or state level, NYPIRG is the place to come.”

Another NYPIRG group dealt with hunger and homelessness in NYC. In this group they made plans to raise awareness of canned food and clothing drives, both of which will be soon be taking place in Hunter.

Another organization that is teaming up with NYPIRG is Invisible Children. Invisible Children uses money raised from textbook sales to build schools and help facilitate better learning opportunities in Africa. There will be a textbook drive at Hunter for this as well. All of these drives will start next week and will be on the third floor of Hunter College.

The following day Kevin Strump, project director for NYPIRG at Hunter, spoke at a Professional Staff Congress sponsored teach in to discuss the continued budget cuts to CUNY as well as the controversial “Pathways” initiative, which seeks to unify the CUNY campuses under a common general education framework.

“Overall, the event was successful in that we were able to educate students about important issues, but also give them an avenue to take action” said Kevin Stump, the project coordinator for NYPIRG at Hunter.

Students that are interested in being a part of Hunter NYPIRG, can stop by room TH 314, which is the group’s Hunter headquarters. Visit nypirg.org for more information on how to contribute or get involved.