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ICYMI: NJPIRG volunteers raise awareness of different issues

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Rutgers students have maintained its history of activism with the local chapter of the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group (NJPIRG) launching several campaigns over the semester.

In January the group began lobbying for students and other Americans to convince Kentucky Fried Chicken to stop using antibiotics as a preventative tool in their chicken populations.

Overuse of antibiotics can lead to resistant bacteria becoming a greater issue than in the past, said Arielle Mizrahi, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior and the Rutgers coordinator for the campaign.

“Antibiotics are meant to be used on animals or people that are sick,” Mizrahi said in January.

Their overuse is a public health concern that some companies, like McDonald's, have already acknowledged.

PIRG also reached the next phase of their nearly decade-long effort to reduce textbook costs for students.

Rutgers students spend roughly $1,500 on textbooks, and nearly one-third of all students require financial aid to help them afford textbooks at all. A new program that will create open-source textbooks was announced in February to help reduce those costs.

The program can save students up $1 million after it is implemented, said Kaitlyn Vitez, the campaign's coordinator.

Another existing campaign NJPIRG continued to work on aims to assist shelters to help support New Brunswick’s homeless population.

Avani Patel, the campaign’s coordinator, said part of the problem is a shortage of resources that the shelters and kitchens can provide. These resources range from a lack of volunteers to restock shelves to a lack of funds to pay for necessities like a truck to help deliver food.

Up to one-third of Hub City residents may be impoverished, and therefore need these resources to survive.

Last year the campaign raised a total of $2,500 for two different organizations, both of which serve residents under the poverty line.

Most recently, NJPIRG began an effort to save bee populations, which have been dying in greater numbers over recent winters than in years past.

More than two-thirds of the world’s food supply depends on bees, said Ansley Kunnath, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student and campaign coordinator. Some pesticides have been linked to this decline.

The purpose of the campaign is to convince the Environmental Protection Agency to force companies to stop using these pesticides, at least until more research has been done on their effects.

This article is part of our Spring 2016 Perspectives edition. Find the full issue here.

Nikhilesh De is a School of Engineering junior. He is the news editor of The Daily Targum. Follow him on Twitter @nikhileshde for more.

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