Spring 2023 Newsletter – NJPIRG at Rutgers New Brunswick

Newsletter |

From working to save the bees to dedicating hundreds of hours of service to end hunger and homelessness, our NJPIRG chapter has been busy this semester. After winning our reaffirmation vote on our funding with overwhelming support, we dived into this semester with a new team of student leaders, and new campaigns.

After our spring recruitment drive where we engaged hundreds of students through dozens of class announcements and tabling events, we kicked off our campaigns, and are now reflecting on all of the incredible work our team has been up to.

Save the Bees

Bees are essential to our lives. They pollinate 75% of all of the foods we eat, and their pollination helps protect outdoor spaces we love, but we lost 51% of our bee colonies in 2021 due to multiple factors such as climate change, habitat loss, and pesticide use. That’s why in the fall semester we started a campaign to get Mayors across the state to declare their cities Bee Friendly City, per the Bee USA Standards.

Through organizing alongside the New Jersey BeeKeepers Association, we were able to build on the work we did statewide during the Fall! We’ve collected over 1,500 petition signatures across the state in support of this policy, partnered with beekeepers, met with our local city councils, and are on track to make New Jersey a bee friendly state.

Hunger and Homelessness

No one should have to worry about where their next meal is coming from or where they’ll sleep each night. That’s why we worked to do hundreds of hours of service this semester across the state! Through weekly food drives in Highland Park we collected over 100 pounds of necessary food items for the Rutgers Food Pantry. We’ll be continuing this work throughout the fall to make sure community orgs in New Brunswick have the support they need.

Lobby Day

On top of working locally, our students also went to the DC Capitol in February to lobby on students’ issues at the federal level. This marks the first in-person visit to the nation’s Capitol since the start of the pandemic. Over the last two years, students met with their elected officials by participating in virtual lobby days.

“The ability to advocate for issues that we care about directly to our elected representatives is an important right we have as young people.” said Princess, 2024, Public Health. “I am glad I had the opportunity to represent my school and voice the concerns of students at Rutgers.”

More than 40 students participated in a federal lobby day at the Capitol in Washington D.C. bringing student voices to the halls of power to advocate for concrete solutions on issues such as the cost of textbooks, the right to repair consumer devices, and the plastic pollution crisis. In total, students held over 80 lobby meetings with congressional members (including with New Brunswick’s own, Representative Pallone!), and also met with the White House, Department of Education, and House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

The students advocated for a range of legislative priorities, but focused primarily on passing the Affordable College Textbook Act (H.R.7040/S.3818) which seeks to reduce the cost of textbooks at U.S. colleges and universities by expanding the use of open textbooks (and other open educational resources) that everyone can use, adapt and share freely.

Youth Earth Week!

This Earth Week, NJPIRG students and volunteers continued the work they’ve been doing with the Central Jersey Beekeepers Association on the Save the Bees campaign. While students tried samples of honey and got to tour a new, unused beehive, a local beekeeper helped Save the Bees by collecting petitions and teaching students about the importance and intrigue of our most important pollinators (bees!).

A Thank You 

All of this work is thanks to our team of students who dedicate so much of their time to making a difference. Our work is dependent on our community, and we could not have done the work we did without the entire Rutgers Community. From the professors who let us do class announcements, to the administrations who helped send out campus wide emails, to the staff who helped us reserve rooms, and of course the students who came to our tables and engaged with us, we are appreciative of everyone’s support. 

We are looking forward to a fall semester filled with fun campaign events, but above all, we can’t wait to continue making New Jersey and Rutgers a place where students can organize, and win.