What is UConnPIRG?
UConnPIRG is the UConn Storrs chapter of the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG). We are one of three chapters in CT, the others being at UConn Greater Hartford and Trinity College. We’re a nonprofit student activism and advocacy group dedicated to working in the public interest and bringing about social change.
What sets UConnPIRG apart from other student activism groups?
There are a couple of things that set us apart from other activist groups on campus. Primarily, we are a chapter of a statewide nonprofit organization, ConnPIRG, which is itself a member of the nationwide group U.S. PIRG. Because of our position as a chapter, we have access to tremendous resources that other student groups don’t, like professional staff who help train us, do research for us, and lobby for us both in CT and in Washington D.C. Because we’re a Tier III fee-funded student organization, we can afford to hire a professional staff member to work with us on campus, a Chapter Coordinator, as well as contract with many state-level staff, like a State Director to help us do research and work on our behalf at the state level, an Organizing Director to help different chapters work together, and a Contract Advocate who lobbies full time for us in the CT legislature, giving us a tremendous amount of power. The coolest part about all this? All the change is completely student-driven!
What kind of issues does UConnPIRG work on?
The primary criterion for issues that UConnPIRG, and PIRGs in general, work on is that it’s a public interest issue. Often, this means opposing an agenda being pushed by a special interest. We always make sure to maintain a good balance of environmental, social, and political campaigns, and, since we have a strong reach and more power than many organizations, we also focus on state-level and national issues as well as campus-wide and local ones. Read about our campaign mix on the homepage. In the past, we’ve worked on updating the Bottle Bill, overturning Citizens United, making CT adopt solar energy, passing a bill to screen household products for toxic chemicals, GMO labeling, and many others.
Is UConnPIRG a partisan group?
The cool thing about UConnPIRG, and PIRGs in general, is that we’re not partisan. In order to bring about social change on a wide variety of issues, we don’t want to limit ourselves to working with a single party. Often, our best results come from when we work with as ideologically diverse a group as possible. For example, OSPIRG, Oregon’s state PIRG, succeeded in organizing to pass a resolution to overturn Citizens United. This only worked out because we worked over there with people from the far left, the tea party, libertarians, and many people in between.
How do you decide what issues to work on?
Members of the Core, which is our chief decision-making body, vote on the issues. Every fee-paying undergraduate is counted as a member of UConnPIRG, and all members are eligible to attend Core and gain voting privileges, so we encourage as many people to attend Core as possible. Near the end of each semester, we have a training session on how to write a campaign proposal, and Core members take some time to write proposals and submit them to the executives so we can distribute them to all Core members and then vote on them at the next meeting. The four or five most popular are then the issues that we work on!
This is great! How can I get involved?
You can get involved by filling out our online involvement form. Or, if you see us presenting to one of your classes, be sure to fill out one of the interest cards we hand out!
If I want to be involved, how much of a time commitment is it?
The cool thing is that you’re free to put in as much or as little time as you want. We’re always looking for people to get involved, so even if you’d only like to put in 1 hour of volunteering in a semester, we appreciate it! On the other hand, if you feel like you want to put in 10+ hours a week, you can definitely get involved in a leadership position!
What higher levels of involvement are there?
We offer several ways to get involved on a higher level. If you feel like you can put in 10 or more hours a week, you can become an intern for course credit. You can receive 1 credit through our PIRG internship, or go through an academic department to get up to 6 credits! The next rung is the campaign coordinator position. A campaign coordinator is responsible for organizing and running a campaign, which is a significant workload and involves a lot of planning as well as doing. The highest position is an executive position (President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary). You can also be elected to the ConnPIRG Students State Board, which involves taking even more responsibility and having a say on state-level decisions. Read more about the positions in our constitution.
Where and when are your meetings?
Find out on the meeting times page! And remember, you can attend as many or as few project meetings that you like, as well as the Core meeting. However, Core membership is only granted to members involved at the project level. What this means is that you can’t vote in Core if you don’t attend project meetings.
Do you have an office?
Yep. Student Union 214! It’s a room that’s sort of hidden in the Student Organizations Center on the 2nd floor of the Student Union. If you can’t find it, ask someone at the info desk. Officers’ hours can be found here, but there’s usually someone in there during regular daytime hours. If you can’t find us, we might be tabling on Fairfield Way. If not, shoot us an email!
Ask away in our feedback form!