California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG), the student organization that works with professional staff to tackle environmental and political issues, faced difficulties at their kickoff on Thursday, Jan. 23. The event had been scheduled to be held in room 2340 in Sproul Hall from 6 to 7 p.m.

Unfortunately, the room had recently been assigned to hold a class that conflicted with the event and CALPIRG was not notified of this. However, Laura Caldera, the chapter chair, was quick on her feet and moved the event to the Bell Tower, where a group of about 25 students gathered around to learn more about the organization.

Caldera began the kickoff by not only introducing herself and her officers, but also by introducing the organization in general. Caldera and her team are working toward a “future that is a lot greener through student power” and mobilization. She proceeded to name the campaigns they are focusing on this year and went further into detail regarding the Plastic-Free Seas that she is personally responsible for.

Caldera’s campaign focuses on getting rid of unnecessary plastic that is ending up not only in our oceans but also in the animals that inhabit them. “We need to change the way we live,” Caldera said.

Caldera then handed the floor to Carolina Garcia, a UC Santa Cruz alumnus who was hired by CALPIRG as UCR’s campus organizer. Garcia seeks dedicated volunteers and interns in order to get their CALPIRG to pass environmentally friendly legislation. She encourages those who seek internships with CALPIRG to get involved at their events. She handed the floor to another officer, Andrea Sanjines, who is in charge of their Save the Bees campaign. Sanjines hopes to “make UCR bee friendly by encouraging the state of California to ban harmful pesticides” by working closely with the sustainability office.


Carlee Karhn, the vice chair campaign coordinator in charge of the New Voters Project campaign spoke next. The New Voters Project campaign seeks to promote voting registration on college campuses as well as increase voter turnout at the polls.

Karhn reintroduced Carolina Garcia, who was filling in for Kate Castillo, who was not able to make the event. Garcia briefly discussed Castillo’s Zero Hunger campaign, which is focused on diminishing the hunger crisis that many UCR students face. Castillo is working on getting healthier food in the R’Pantry so that students do not have to decide between eating badly or not eating at all.

Secretary Evelin Estrada took the stage next and introduced her project, the 100% Clean Renewable Transportation, or simply the “100% campaign” for short. CALPIRG recently worked to get SB 100 passed. SB 100 commits the city of Riverside and the state of California to a path of 100% fossil-fuel free electricity by the year 2045. Estrada reminded attendees that they have the power to enact change like CALPIRG did with SB 100 and more.

The campaign organizers then encouraged students to talk to the coordinator whose campaign they were interested in and the group broke off.

The event officially ended at approximately 7 p.m.