A student organization gave updates on several of its new campaigns, including a proposed funding increase to public transportation and a plastic water bottle ban, at its second semester kickoff meeting Tuesday.
The Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group has been on the University of Wisconsin campus for 23 years working on large social issues, according to WISPIRG chapter Chair Emily Eyck.
“Getting involved and staying involved is very, very important,” Senator Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, said.
According to Erpenbach, things are happening in the state that will not guarantee his children the same opportunities he had as a child.
WISPIRG is currently trying to get Interim Chancellor David Ward to sign a contract that will allow the organization to work with professionals to turn their ideas into sustainable campaigns, according to Eyck.
“We work with professional staff that help us form really reliable campaigns,” Eyck said.
Since WISPIRG has been involved on campus for so long, it would be a shame to see it gone next semester, Eyck said.
She said WISPIRG is launching five new campaigns. For example, the new public transportation campaign deals with how students and other civilians get to where they need to be in the community, according to Eyck.
“We want to see a 10 percent increase in funding for public transportation in the state of Wisconsin,” Eyck said.
Eyck said WISPIRG wants to see the state budget reflect how people in the state are getting around, and added she wants this money to come out of unnecessary spending on highways people do not or cannot use.
“Bottle Free Badgers,” another WISPIRG campaign, aims to ban plastic water bottles on campus in an effort to reduce the amount of oil spent on plastic water bottle production throughout the country, according to WISPRIG member Mariana Debernardini.
“We can finally be the university we claim to be,” Debernardini said.
Emily Johnsrud, lead coordinator for the Hunger and Homelessness campaign, said the goal of this project is to raise $10,000 for a shelter here in the Madison area. Johnsrud said there will be a service-a-thon, Friday food drives and change drives in an effort to raise this money and awareness on campus.
According to WISPIRG Vice Chair Jenny Dillon, this campaign wants to take a different approach on trying to tackle the problem of obesity that is not only widespread in Wisconsin, but is also sweeping the entire country.
The goal of this campaign is to start supporting locally-grown foods, Dillon said. In doing so, people will be eating healthier foods while supporting the local economy, he added.
Dakota Fahrenkrug, WISPIRG member, said the Democracy campaign wants to get “big money” out of politics, such as the high amount spent during presidential elections.
Erpenbach expressed his support for student involvement in political and social issues on campus that impact students and, potentially, the larger Madison community. He urged students to make their voices heard.
“If you don’t get involved, you’ll lose your rights,” Erpenbach said.
Students can be involved with these campaigns by volunteering or by becoming an intern for WISPIRG, Debernardini said.