The 2016 WPIRG Referendum Results

Hasan Ahmed - 1A Nano
Posted on: October 7, 2016

Over the last few weeks, posters were slathered all around campus encouraging students to vote in the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group (WPIRG) referendum. The issue of WPIRG’s actions and stances arose when people began questioning WPIRG’s use of the money that it received automatically from students each academic term. For example, accounting records showed that WPIRG gave around 75% of its allotted income to salaries, which most people considered an unethical use of their finances. People also claimed that they were not representing the “public interest,” and weren’t taking students’ opinions into their consideration. So, the referendum was induced to allow a vote to either keep or remove the mandatory $4.75 per academic term fee for WPIRG.

Both sides had arguments, and a lot of the propaganda was spread around social media and the Waterloo campus. In order to inform the masses of the Waterloo Public, both teams held a debate on September 21st, 2016, which was open for all audiences and was also available as a livestream. Here, they discussed their viewpoints on the positives and negatives of the WPIRG automatic fee. The debate lasted an hour, and both sides were able to discuss why the fee should be kept/removed, as well as answer questions concerning the topic. After the debate, the audience was also allowed to see both councils personally and inquire about their concerns directly.

From there, between Sep 26th and 28th, students were allowed to vote for their respective sides online using their LEARN accounts. After a 72-hour period, the results were revealed the next day. Out of 8788 votes, 1579 voted to keep the $4.75 fee, 53 voters declined, and an astonishing 7156 people voted to remove the mandatory fee, encompassing 82% of the total vote, thereby removing the mandatory fee from the students’ tuition. This is just a reminder that this does not mean WPIRG is out of commission. If students want to invest their money into WPIRG, they have the full right to do it. The only thing that has changed is that the fee is now voluntary. So, from now on, tuition will be $4.75 cheaper for all students; feel free to use it to buy 19 gumballs.

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