Walter Dodson, a fourth-semester political science major minoring in philosophy who currently serves as UConnPIRG’s vice-chair, will be the organization’s 2018-19 chapter chair.
“We are a student-run, student-funded, student-directed advocacy group on campus,” Dodson said. “We use grassroots organizing to make social change, and the way we do that is through our campaigns.”
UConnPIRG’s campaigns are based on changes of which they believe at least 70 percent of University of Connecticut students would be in favor, Dodson said.
Dodson said he became a UConnPIRG member during his first semester at UConn after a former member encouraged students in one of his political science classes to join.
“I remember going into the office, which was so cramped that people were sitting anywhere they could find space, calling people,” Dodson said. “I thought to myself, ‘wow, this many people with this much passion can really change the world.’”
As chair, Dodson said he wants to continue the success the organization has seen in previous years’ accomplishments, such as its successful campaign for open-source textbooks.
“Three years ago, we worked with the Undergraduate Student Government, UConn Libraries, former Provost Choi, State Rep. Gregg Haddad and State Sen. Mae Flexer to get an open educational resource task force in the state house,” Dodson said. “That bill was passed, and in addition to that we got a $100,000 grant for open resources in Connecticut.”
Dodson also hopes to increase UConnPIRG’s visibility and let students know the organization is a resource for them, he said.
“If (students) see something at this school, in this town, in this country that they want to change, I encourage them to come to our office and talk about it,” Dodson said. “I like the feeling of student power and feeling like we don’t have to change the world to make change.”
Additional 2018-19 officers include incoming vice-chair Emily O’Hara, Kyleigh Hillerud, who will serve as secretary and incoming treasurer Samuel Donahue
Gabriella DeBenedictis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.