NYPIRG on Campus
The New York Public Interest Research Group’s unique mission is to give students an array of extracurricular activities and opportunities to participate in important public policy discussions, through which they can learn a wide range of valuable skills, contributing to a well-rounded educational experience.
Students working with professional NYPIRG staff help lead projects and campaigns on a variety of urgent issues. This hands-on approach teaches students skills that make them more active members of their community, enhances their academic experience, and prepares them for successful entry into the workforce.
Students across the state at NYPIRG’s campus chapters, including NYPIRG’s Student Board of Directors, have made tangible contributions on the issues of civic engagement, higher education funding, consumer rights, environmental protection, mass transit, and homelessness. Since 1973, NYPIRG has provided a unique service of supplementary learning and provided countless students with an enriching and rewarding experience.
Reports & Features
NYPIRG Student Profile
Alexis Ramos, Borough of Manhattan Community College
When asked about her plans after college, Alexis Ramos confidently answers, “Become president of the United States. I know I have a few years to wait first, but it is going to happen.” Her resume is already quite long: mother, activist, NYPIRG Board member, part-time employee, full-time college student. Raised by her grandmother in Harlem, she is no stranger to adversity. “I was bullied a lot in high school. To overcome that is difficult, but it has informed who I am and what I want to do.”
For Alexis, the battle for mental health must happen in the public sector. “I look out at the city of New York, the state as a whole, and realize that people are suffering. It’s tied into their other struggles and it’s become a public health crisis. They need more than just access to health care, they need relief.” As a mother and a student she sees first-hand how the system has failed so many. “I meet so many mothers battling with depression who aren’t taken seriously. I meet students who are depressed and anxious; they need someone to advocate for them.”
Alexis wakes each morning at 5:30 to get her son to daycare before she can make it to her classes at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, then go to work. Despite the long day, she has found energy in on-campus activism. “I think there is something really special about our generation. We have learned from the mistakes of our parents and grandparents. We need a different voice, we have to advocate for ourselves.” When a NYPIRG student gave a rousing speech about voting rights in one of her classes, she knew she had to join, organizing with NYPIRG on issues such as higher education funding and affordable transit. “Our generation, we know that the whole world is at stake. I don’t have the option to sit back and wait for another world. I have my son to fight for. I have to do it for him.”
A college degree is a near-requisite for competing in today's job market. Yet, since the Great Recession, funding for higher education has been dramatically cut; tuition has been hiked five of the past six years, jumping $1,500; and financial aid and opportunity programs which serve New York’s most at-risk students have been under-resourced year after year.
Mounting costs are not reserved to tuition. Textbooks, transportation, housing, childcare, and food expenses can be significant barriers to a college degree. The recently proposed Excelsior Scholarship is laudable, but does little to help low-income students and excludes many including undocumented students and part-time students.
This is the reality New York college students face.
For too long, New York has not provided adequate funding for colleges and universities, and that has had real consequences. Students are stepping up across the state to tell their stories through NYPIRG’s Higher Education Storybank project.
Hear from students like Queens College’s Beena Kanhailall, who works 60 hours a week to afford tuition and her pre-law textbooks, or Borough of Manhattan Community College’s Sapphire Garris, a mother of a 1-year-old who is able to go to school because of opportunity program-funded daycare, or Buffalo State College's Shahadah Williams, who wonders if she'll have to choose between buying food or preparing for graduate school.
Click here to visit the storybank where you can read dozens of stories, or filter the bank by school, students' NY Assembly or Senate districts, or by tagged keywords. Please share widely.
If you would like to speak with any of the students who participated in the project, please contact the corresponding NYPIRG chapter or email NYPIRG Program Director Megan Ahearn, firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about our Higher Education Affordability work, please contact NYPIRG Campaign Organizer Emily Skydel, email@example.com.