By Tony Cai

The hot topic in last weeks USG senate meeting held in the SAC was the passing of the budget for clubs and organization. Every year, a budget committee goes over the requests for funding by all the clubs and organizations on campus and decides how much to allocate to them for the upcoming year. All would have gone smoothly if the budget committee distributed funds fairly and evenly, but that was not the case.

My name is Tony Cai.  I’m an active volunteer for an organization on campus called the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG). On May 1, the Stony Brook NYPIRG project coordinator Jonathan Green called to inform me that NYPIRG has received $0 for next years budget and that it was very important to attend this meeting. I had no idea what was going on so I went to check it out.

When I got there, I was greeted by Cheryl Lynch, a chairperson of the Board of Directors for NYPIRG, former USG senator and former member of the budget committee. She explained in detail to me right before the meeting began about the current situation. The Jewish organization Hillel and NYPIRG were given $0 for next year and the budget was passed. The reason the USG gave was that NYPIRG did not submit necessary information to the USG treasury in time.

The gallery was very disappointed when the senators voted to pass the current budget as is, meaning that NYPIRG would receive $0 next year. We were all helpless in the situation while President of USG Joseph Antonelli denied the gallery members the permission to speak out before the budget plan passed. The only thing that was going through my head was: How in the world did the budget committee decide to give NYPIRG absolutely nothing, risking the continuing existence of our organization at Stony Brook?

NYPIRG’s chapter at Stony Brook started 26 years ago, and through the years it has accomplished many things. Throughout the years they have lowered SUNY and CUNY tuition many times and registered thousands of students to vote on campus. In fact, voting on campus was made possible by the efforts of NYPIRG. Whether you know it or not, every single person in that room benefits from what NYPIRG does on an everyday basis. Do you think what we do doesn’t affect you? How about the Bottle Bill? What about the seatbelt safety law? All the things we take for granted were fought hard for by NYPIRG students like you and I.

I learned about NYPIRG through a job posting on our campus last year. After working with NYPIRG through the summer, I’ve realized how NYPIRG helps every single citizen of New York by advocating for critical laws to be passed. Since then, I’ve invested a lot of time into the organization because I truly believe they do good work. Both on and off campus, NYPIRG serves as an educator to the general public by working year round fighting for the public interest of New Yorkers. NYPIRG is also one of the leading organizations in New York State fighting to protect the environment. NYPIRG at Stony Brook organizes beach clean ups every year to promote recycling and conservation. We also collect food year round for the hungry and the homeless. We register thousands of Stony Brook students to vote every year. These are just some of the reasons why I think NYPIRG is an organization that is well worth my time, and I bet there are hundreds of students at Stony Brook who can attest to that.

NYPIRG has done too much good for Stony Brook for it to end here because of a stupid technicality. That’s all I have to say. I encourage everyone to check out NYPIRG in the basement of the Union, room 079 and discover the good we do for our campus and how you can get involved!