CALPIRG is the California Public Interest Research Group.
CalPIRG is a grassroots public interest group that lobbies for issues that they believe are relevant to the general public. They mainly focus on higher education, clean energy, hunger and homelessness, ocean protection, and voter registration. They work with other PIRGs nationwide. There are chapters at every UC, except for Merced (although, they have been running Energy Service Corps, a joint program with AmeriCorps, there since 2010.) CALPIRG also has chapters in some CSUs, city colleges and at USC.
They have an office in 356 MU. The current campus organizer is Naomi Flagg, who graduated from UC Berkeley. The previous organizer was Rikki Seguin, who graduated from the University of Florida. For the 2006-2007 school year the organizer was Tara Stafford who graduated from USC. The campus organizers for the 2005-2006 school year were Andy Bemis and Ben Smith. You could often find Ben in a cow suit, or some other costume.
The current Chapter Chair is Economics and International Relations major, Edson Perez, and the Vice-Chair is Donna Farvard, a third year NPB major. For the 2011-2012 school year, the campus chair was Donna Farvard, who is also in the CALPIRG Statewide Board. For the 2006-2007 school year Dallas Cole was campus chair and Michael Reagan was vice-chair. Dan Xie, AimeeMarie Munoz-Lopez, and Karen Park made up the other officers. In 2005-2006 the chairs were AimeeMarie Munoz-Lopez and Garo Manjikian.
Twice a year you'll find them on campus asking you to pledge $10 to them, allowing them to fund their campaigns and hire a professional staff of researchers, lobbyists, and campus organizers. This $10 pledge you make is deducted from your student account every quarter making a total of $30 for the year. You get a bright orange sticker that says, "I pledged CALPIRG." This fund raising may cause people to seek protection from CALPIRG. This funding keeps them on campus, as 20% of UC Davis students must pledge in order for them stay on campus. The staff hired is essential for CALPIRG. Campus organizers and statewide staff members train students on how to run effective grassroots campaign involving students in politics.
If you are lucky enough to have a CALPIRG sticker in your possession you will have the warm, fuzzy feeling that you have done something good for the world. The CALPIRG sticker, if properly placed within an amulet, is also one of the Magic Items of Davis.
If you believe that CALPIRG is not representing you properly, then you can go up to CALPIRG's office in 356 MU and ask them to remove you from the pledge list.
Projects, Policies, and Ideas Supported and/or Organized by CalPIRG
- Was called the "largest grassroots environmental campaign in the nation's history" by the LA Times when they mobilized over 160,000 students to vote No on Proposition 23, the dirty energy bill.
- Educated over 20,000 K-12 kids about energy efficiency through their Energy Service Corps campaign.
- Gathered enough support to stop Congress from doubling student loan interest rates
- Helped establish the UCD textbook rental program.
- Won $17 billion for Pell grants
- Pushed for laws that mandated 20% of California's energy come from renewable sources by 2017
- Pushed for Million Solar Roofs bill
- Raised money for tsunami relief and organized "Swipe for Relief" in the Dining Commons
- Held call-in days to fight federal budget cuts to financial aid
- Held a funeral for textbooks that could not be returned
- Fought drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve
CalPIRG is mainly criticized for their pushy soliciting during Pledge Week, but there are other criticisms as well. One major criticism of the organization is that they tend to be very partisan on some issues although they are a non-partisan non-profit group (the following bullet points might be too libertarian for some):
- They support a high speed rail project without considering the environmental and economic side effects.
- They supported tax rebates for solar panels without considering potential environmental and economic concerns.
- They propose more government-backed student loans when others consider this to be the problem.
- They supported the idea for UC Davis and the ASUCD to work together to create a textbook rental program, when the ASUCD Book Exchange requires subsidies from students and the UC Davis Bookstore is known for ripping students off. This textbook rental program at the UC Davis Bookstore was successfully created in 2010.
2008-09-17 21:36:40 I've donated a few times in my life from people who have come up to me and talked to me. Unfortunately, I also gave them my number. Now I've been getting calls almost every day around 6-9:30PM from their 800 number. I answered once and said no and I don't want anymore calls. They still call. This is my punishment for the sin of donating to a cause. There's no way I'm giving another dime to CALPIRG. Their numbers are 800-672-3012 and 800-672-3014. Google these numbers and find many others who are pissed. Getting approached once on the street or at home is one thing, having a computer dial your number at dinner or sleeping time almost every day is harassment. —CoffeeSnobDavis
2008-12-29 12:53:58 Please!! I do i get off their donation list?!?!?! thankz to whom ever in advance! =D —Dreabo0
- If you want to have any hope of getting off their pledge list, I think you need to consider the Importance of using your RealName. They can't depledge you unless they know who you are. But see the new "Depledging" section above. —BrentLaabs
2009-11-05 07:48:20 I do not really care for how I've seen some CalPIRG members badgering people to pledge. "No" or "I need some time to think about it" are not acceptable answers to some members. And if you are skeptical about renting textbooks, run. —RyanMikulovsky
2011-02-22 21:34:41 Honestly, I originally pledged CalPIRG as a naive freshman who supported their cause. That was until I realized that people weren't kidding that "once you pledge CalPIRG, you're trapped for life". This will be my 3rd consecutive quarter where I have been charged against my will, because of their failure to honor my request to unpledge. Calling the numbers, emailing them, and following up on both won't do a thing. Not only do they not listen, I'm sure they don't take them seriously/are laughing all the way to the bank at our "stupidity".
I was approached today by someone who asked me to pledge CalPIRG. I told them I had unpledged, and he had the most bewildered look, along the lines of "You can do that?". Well, apparently you can't.
But, I refuse to give up. I will update people if I ever succeed at accomplishing this.
EDIT: So back in February, I was fuming about unpledging (or being unable to). Well, 3 months later (an entire quarter, basically?), I have received confirmation that I'm unpledged, and will be receiving a refund check sometime around finals week/early summer.
Good luck, RajanSingh! You'll have to be persistent and call their listed numbers/resort to calling them nonstop if they fail to honor your request (as I did). [5/16/2011] —Jennyfish
2011-03-23 15:36:06 Good luck Jennyfish! I want to depledge also. This organization is useless.. —RajanSingh
2011-11-06 23:46:27 I will still never forget the one guy who harassed me (actually followed me while I walked) for a good 5 minutes. Finally he said "it just gets charged to your student account and your parents probably pay that anyway so why do you care about ten dollars?" To which I delivered a few choice words and said I pay that myself. I don't care how good your cause may be, people like that turn me off pretty much entirely. —OliviaY
2012-03-12 21:27:53 I wish someone could make a sticker that says "I WILL NOT PLEDGE CALPRIG." So sick of them bugging me every time I walk by the Coho and Library. Hell, I was eating in the tables outside the Coho last year and one sat down with me and spent around 5 minutes trying to convince me to pledge... —CecilioPadilla
2012-03-21 22:21:05 I interned with CALPIRG this past quarter and it was really fun and I made a ton of new friends. Tough work being on the "other side" during Pledge Week, but it's such a relief to actually get real work done, instead of just clicking "sign" on those online petitions your friends post on Facebook (you know what I'm talking about!) —Tparkeressig
2012-11-14 14:54:26 Beware of CalPIRG! Just had a really bad experience with this organization. Yes, what they stand for is good and all BUT they will continue to deduct money from you even after you have asked them to stop. I pledged $15 a month for over a year until I could no longer afford it. I emailed them several times asking them to stop with the direct deposits and "JOHN FOX" even replied to confirm. The following month the deductions continued so I asked again... then the following month they deducted it once more!!! I have now changed my account information to have it blocked but it was a horrible experience trying to get them to stop taking my money. I do not endorse calPIRG because of this— they are pretty sketchy. —antonioa
2013-01-08 00:38:25 @antonioa: It took me consulting ASUCD legal services, building a case to file a claim, and emailing/calling the "president" of the UCD chapter at the time about a pending "lawsuit" if they were too incompetent to complete a simple request. Needless to say, within 24 hours, I received an actual response, and did end up receiving the $20 refund check in the mail that I posted about back in 2011.
But yes, sketchy practices and nearly impossible to get a hold of in person! —Jennyfish
2016-02-07 20:08:02 This story happened last year. I signed up for getting information on internship, and they called me the next day and asked me to come in for an interview. I went there and talked to them for like 15 min and was "hired." I thought I was going to be working on something meaningful but, no, all I was doing was to ask people for donations. The whole process was unorganized- they didn't even book a table at the MU during pledge week and asked me to go get a table. Everything was a mess that day and this wasn't what I expected to be interning for. I called the campus organizer and politely told her that I feel like the organization was not organized, and a lot of us did not really know what was going on and what we were doing. The campus organizer said she thought I was being DISRESPECTFUL to my peers who organized the tabling event by saying the day was unorganized. I was pissed. I ended the conversation politely and hung up. I then sent her an email, in a professional manner, and told her I would like to quit. She never replied. I also sent the chairperson a text telling her about resigning and asked for the marker pen I borrowed them on the tabling day. No reply. After that, I still got calls from them, for around a month, asking me to pledge for them. My advise is: don't get involve into CalPIRG. I don't think anyone would learn anything from someone who cannot even take sincere comments/advises. —TheMermaid