UConnPIRG recruits, organizes campaigns

 Student activist group UConnPIRG is currently seeking to recruit any and every student willing to volunteer with them to gain leadership experience. (Patrick Gosselin/Daily Campus)

Student activist group UConnPIRG is now at work on a recruitment drive and organization of its fall semester campaigns.

“Right now we’re in full recruitment drive mode, so we’re trying to get every and any student who wants to try and gain leadership experience through an internship or just volunteering,” UConnPIRG secretary, “save the bees” campaign coordinator and third-semester political science major Emily O’Hara said. “We just have so many different roles and campaigns this semester that we can never have too many students sharing their voices and engaging in the grassroots organizing that we’re planning.”

O’Hara said UConnPIRG’s current recruitment efforts include tabling events and announcements about the group made in classes.

“We have opportunities anywhere from being volunteers, if (students) just want to give maybe an hour or two a week, or if they want to commit to a full internship we have that kind of opportunity,” O’Hara said. “And all they have to do to sign up is fill out an interest card at one of our tables or at a class announcement, or they can come drop by our office in Student Union 214.”

O’Hara said UConnPIRG will host its fall semester kick-off event on Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. in Student Union room 304. The recruitment drive does not end with the kick-off event and students can join the group at any time during the semester, she added.

(Patrick Gosselin/Daily Campus)

UConnPIRG will undertake six campaigns this semester, O’Hara said. These campaigns will see the group aim to save the bees, ban styrofoam, promote democracy, expand the prevalence of open access textbooks, help those who face hunger and homelessness and move the University of Connecticut toward an 100 percent renewable energy future.

O’Hara said that in the lead campaign for 100 percent renewable energy, UConnPIRG will ask UConn’s administration to transition the university to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.

“We think this will set the precedent for the whole state if we can do it, and if other colleges and universities like Cornell can do it, we believe that we can,” O’Hara said.

O’Hara said the group collected 4,000 petitions from students as part of last year’s lead campaign; the petitions supported a ban on the expansion of a pipeline in Connecticut. UConnPIRG decided to localize the campaign to UConn this year, she said.

In the new “ban Styrofoam” campaign, UConnPIRG will ask Dunkin’ Donuts to no longer use styrofoam cups, O’Hara said. She added that this campaign is an effort to help improve the environment.

O’Hara said last year’s “save the bees” campaign earned a national accreditation and got UConn designated as a bee friendly campus with the bee campus USA program. UConnPIRG will now strive to maintain the accreditation, she said.

“This semester, in order to keep that accreditation, we’re fulfilling our service learning requirements and having awareness events,” O’Hara said. “We’re going to be having local restaurants sign on to the bee friendly food alliance, which basically says they get their food from bee friendly partners.”

O’Hara said current UConnPIRG leaders are eager to work on this semester’s campaigns and anticipate the expansion of student leadership within the group.

“We’re all so excited to run really strategic campaigns this semester,” O’Hara said. “I think what we’re going to see is some strong student leadership coming up and the growth of more student leadership from UConnPIRG and ConnPIRG as more people find campaigns that they’re passionate about, that they want to take on new roles in.”


Alexandra Retter is staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at alexandra.retter@uconn.edu.