Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 4.23.44 PMWe’ve all seen it, that $11.20 NJ PIRG charge on our term bills. But how many of us students really know where that money ends up?

Mike Galvan, NJ PIRG campus organizer for Rutgers-Camden says, “Students are extremely familiar with PIRG. We like to conduct surveys of students every semester to make sure we are consistently doing our job. Last year, out of our survey, over 40 percent of students were familiar with NJPIRG in some way, shape or form.” That means that 60 percent of Rutgers-Camden students don’t know what the $11.20 fee is. It’s even less likely that these students know they can opt out of the fee. For those of us who are familiar with PIRG, and allow the $12 fee, what exactly are we paying for?

Students who donate to NJ PIRG funding campaigns like “Go Solar Camden,” which Galvan says is “to have the City of Camden dedicate to getting 20 percent of its energy from solar power. This is great, considering that Camden has openly stated it wants to be the “greenest” city in New Jersey.”

Galvan also mentions another one of PIRG’s focuses, which is Money in Politics: “Right now, corporations are allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money in campaign donations and contributions, which drowns out the voice of common citizen donors like me and you. We are working to have our elected officials come out against this unlimited spending to help restore the voices of the common citizen.”

Another major project Camden’s PIRG is currently tackling is Hunger and Homelessness. “Every year, our chapter works to fight hunger and homelessness in the city. Specifically, we are looking to donate $1,500 and 100 hours of community service to a local homeless shelter, the Neighborhood Center.” Galvan says.

Some students even worked on Hunger and Homelessness campaign. “I went to the meetings before. They have a tent city in Camden, with all those homeless people. They go to the shelters and help feed the homeless,” says Tawanda Chancey, who is currently a Rutgers-Camden majoring in English.

Currently, NJPIRG advocates for cheaper textbooks. NJPIRG is working to bring an Open-source library to Rutgers-Camden. Students would have access to textbooks at a much cheaper cost. NJPIRG’s Textbook Affordability campaign is currently working to tackle this issue. “The average student pays about $1,200 a year in textbooks ALONE! If you go to a community college, you’re probably going to spend more on textbooks per year than on tuition! There are low cost, or free alternatives to high-priced textbooks, and we are working to educate university officials on these options,” Galvan notes. “If just one department here at Rutgers-Camden, or even one professor, begins assigning open source textbooks, it would be huge.”

Galvan is just one of many hired staff whose salary is paid for by the $11.20 term bill fee. NJPIRG Student Chapters hires Campus Organizers through the funding. The average salary for a Campus Organizer ranges from $23,000- $26,000 a year. NJPIRG also hires lawyers and attorneys in Washington D.C. to represent students.

The next vote concerning NJPIRG Student Chapters funding is scheduled for Fall 2016. Seniors cannot participate. To opt out of the $11.20 fee, visit the Student Accounting & Cashiering Offices on campus.

To find out more about NJ PIRG visit their office: Camden Campus Center, Lower Level, Room 024

Or visit http://njpirgstudents.org/camden!

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