Our generation is the largest and most diverse in the country. However, the youth vote continues to take a “nose-dive” (National Civic Review). Only 18% of eligible 18-29 year olds voted in the 2014 election (Elect Project). That leads to us not being represented in government, and our voices not being heard. Together, we can elect the next generation of leaders who care about the issues we care about. But only if all of us vote. MaryPIRG has been running the New Voters Project campaign since the 80s, and has helped register hundreds of students over the years. This semester, MaryPIRG is working to register 1,500 students to vote, and increase voter turnout in College Park to 30 percent. We know we can reach this goal, but only with lots of volunteers helping us get out the vote.
20% of students on campus are food insecure (source).This is a disappointing number given the amount of resources the university has and the amount of waste the diners produce. There are solutions that are currently being implemented such as a campus pantry (source), but more can be done. This semester, we want to start a program to allow food insecure students access to the diner at free/reduced cost. Inspiration for this program came from the free/reduced meal plans found in public schools. We are also hosting donation drives to help the campus pantry frequently. However, there is more we can do and we need people like you to help!
For the average student, the total cost of textbooks over four years can reach the cost of an additional semester. We must not and can not stand for this predatory practice against the brightest young minds in the country. That is why we aim to promote the use of free, Open Textbooks by meeting with library staff, faculty, departments, administration, student government, and public officials with the help of a broad base of student support to try to make UMD a zero-textbook-cost school. If we are going to be successful, we will need passionate volunteers who want to make this issue a prominent one on campus by gathering petitions, working on social media, and otherwise making us visible on campus.
Save the Bay is focused on banning expanded polystyrene (EPS), also known as “Styrofoam,” in Maryland. The pollution from the plastic foam kills ecosystems and impacts health of the individuals who use it according to CollierCounty.gov. Many restaurants use this plastic in forms of cups and togo containers. The containers are used for a short amount of time then are thrown away. But when you throw away is there really such a thing as away?i> The trash goes to landfills or oceans eventually leaking toxic chemicals into the environment. When releases into the ecosystem, it increases the possibility for some animal or creature to consume. The plastic foam is neither biodegradable or recyclable so may live in the environment for millions of years. Maryland has banned the plastic foam in parts of the state, but it is time to ban it statewide. This semester MaryPIRG plans to get 2000 petitions and support from the large University of Maryland community.