The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday August 12th

Student Activist Takes On Establishment

Tara Purohit participates in a group that is working for campaign finance reform and opposing tuition hikes.

Tara Purohit, a UNC junior, is working to ensure that the concerns and opinions of University students are recognized.

Purohit is a member of the UNC Common Cause/Democracy Matters Student Alliance for Campaign Finance Reform, a group formed to protest UNC's campus-based tuition increase proposal while supporting the national issue of campaign finance reform.

"We are opposed to the fact that our tuition is being consistently raised," Purohit said.

Purohit said the alliance has combined the two issues because members believe that tax breaks given to campaign donors are creating a funding shortage that results in tuition increases.

The linguistics and political science major from Mt. Pleasant, S.C., said political activities take up most of her time.

"I sort of keep myself busy with the activism I do," Purohit said.

One outlet for her activism is the Boiling Point, a progressive magazine produced by UNC students.

Jenny Stepp, senior editor of Boiling Point, has worked with Purohit on the magazine and said she is impressed with Purohit's work ethic.

"She's a passionate organizer and committed to her activism," Stepp said.

Purohit said the magazine was one of the things that inspired her to get more involved, citing articles about service and activism and a corporate series as two examples.

"The magazine allowed me to have time to sit and think about the issues," Purohit said.

After pausing to consider her options, Purohit chose to pursue campaign finance reform.

She spent her summer working on the issue at a nonprofit organization in Carrboro.

Since returning to UNC, Purohit has managed to continue her efforts and helped form the campus alliance this month.

The group's goal is to collect 3,000 signatures on a petition requesting a referendum on the ballot for campaign finance reform.

Purohit has been talking to people in the Pit and going to meetings. Next week, her group will join with UNC Young Democrats, going door-to-door to get signatures for the petition.

"This semester, I would love to see this referendum get on the ballot and pass," Purohit said.

She said the referendum would serve as an outlet for students' concerns about campaign finances and tuition increases.

"A lot of times students don't have a formal way to represent their voice," Purohit said.

In addition to her dedication in the political arena, Purohit is also concerned with community service through campus groups, such as the APPLES Service-Learning Program.

During her sophomore year, the APPLES program allowed her to work with students at an after-school program at Mary Scroggs Elementary School.

There Purohit ran a program that aimed to teach the children the basics of photography while helping them explore diversity within their community. The students took pictures of their families so they could compare the differences.

"The goal was to have them learn about each other," Purohit said.

Through her work, whether on campus or with children, Purohit says she has learned a lot about making contributions to the UNC community.

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