WPIRG Board of Directors Statement Re: Sever Ties Referendum


Dear WPIRG members and fellow students, 

Based on a vote taken at our Members Meeting on January 22, 2015, the WPIRG membership believes an academic boycott is an effective and just tactic to stand in solidarity with Palestinian students and oppose the human rights abuses perpetrated by the Israeli state through apartheid and colonialist policies.

We know this is a complex issue and we appreciate that so many took the time to thoughtfully consider the referendum question. Based on the countless conversations had during the campaign, we believe that the vast majority of those who voted “no” do not support the human rights abuses; rather we believe many of you voted “no” because you were unsure if the academic boycott tactic was the correct or best course of action, and you were concerned that it might have a potential negative impact on fellow students, faculty and researchers here and elsewhere. Thus the issue of how to handle UW’s ties with institutions complicit in the violation of the human rights of Palestinians remains open. We are committed to supporting a campus community where these discussions can continue with the hope that as students we can develop a shared approach to the pursuit of a more ethical and just role for UW in its external institutional relationships.

The WPIRG Board of Directors would like to congratulate the “Vote Yes” committee for running a principled, eloquent and passionate campaign. While the final results were not what we had hoped, there is much to be proud of. Over 1,800 undergraduate students voted to boycott Israeli universities complicit in the violation of human rights, the largest expression of student solidarity with the struggle of Palestinians ever seen at UW. Over 1,800 students have shown support for an ethical collaboration policy at UW. And many more thousands of students have participated in a reasoned and in-depth conversation on the role of our university in the world. This is how it should be on a campus with a vibrant, engaged and diverse student body.

Everyone involved with this effort should be proud of themselves, from the members of the Palestine Solidarity Action Group, who worked on this campaign for nearly two years, to the Vote Yes committee and campaign volunteers, to everyone who took the time to consider the referendum question and vote. We encourage you to see that you have build a strong foundation for further campus organizing and to take the next few months to think about how you will use this foundation to make change at UW in your remaining years here. You're just getting started and of this we have no doubt!

With solidarity and much appreciation,

the WPIRG Board of Directors

Welcome back! Here’s what WPIRG has been up to so far this academic year and what’s coming up in Winter 2016


Welcome back! We hope Fall 2015 ended well and that you’re off to a great start in Winter 2016, be it in class or coop. As it’s the start of a new term and close to the midway point in another academic year, we wanted to let you know what WPIRG’s volunteers were up to last term and what we’re working on this term and into the rest of the academic year.

An important step for fossil fuel divestment at UW

Last November, after months of work, our Fossil Free UW action group mobilized Environment students to pass a motion at the Waterloo Environment Students Endowment Fund (WESEF) AGM committing WESEF to divest from the fossil fuel industry – a first at UW! As WESEF prepares to divest, Fossil Free UW is looking to expand the divestment movement to other parts of campus this term. They need new volunteers so get in touch if you’re interested in climate justice organizing.

EthicalCollabUW question goes to referendum! 

palestine rachel.jpg

Our Palestine Solidarity Action Group (PSAG) members worked hard all Fall term and gathered more than 4000 undergraduate student signatures on a petition calling for FEDS to hold a referendum asking the student body if they support UW ending ties with Israeli universities complicit in human rights violations and the occupation of Palestine. After the petition was processed by FEDS late last term, a referendum will be held this month with voting taking place between January 25-27. EthicalCollabUW is part of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that is putting important pressure on the Israeli state to end the occupation of Palestine and respect Palestinian human rights. PSAG is looking for volunteers right now to help with the referendum campaign so if you’re passionate about international human rights and peace, there isn’t a better opportunity to make a difference than this campaign.

The KW Solidarity Network keeps building a local tenants movement

Landlords are discovering it’s getting harder in KW to cheat and abuse tenants thanks to the work of former WPIRG action group, now community partner, the KW Solidarity Network. An organization of tenants and workers who have each others backs, the KW Solidarity Network successfully took several landlords this Fall winning and are currently helping tenants get organized to win repairs at a downtown high-rise. Unfortunately landlords and bosses aren’t going away anytime soon so if you’d like to help build an organization that can give us a fighting chance, consider reaching out to the KW Solidarity Network. And if you’re a UW student who wants to organize student tenants to deal with the many landlord issues students face in KW, check out this new housing resource page on the WPIRG website and get in touch.

Food Justice Always on the Menu at WPIRG

Not to be outdone, our other action groups all kept a steady pace last term and will continue to be active this term. Kitchener Food Not Bombs will keep serving free meals every Saturday at 1pm downtown Kitchener (in front of City Hall) as they did all last Fall. And the WPIRG Community Garden at Columbia Lake had another successful harvest. Look for them to start up again in April or May.

Coming Up in Winter 2016 

Besides the EthicalCollabUW referendum, WPIRG is gearing up for the 16th Annual Rainbow Reels Queer and Trans Film Festival! This major event will take place on March 11-13th and will see three days of film screenings, performances and other creative events. WPIRG’s QFF volunteer committee will be accepting volunteers right up until the event. You can also get involved by applying for an event grant by January 11 and be part of the festival’s programming.

Finally, keep and eye out for our upcoming January Members Meeting and, towards the end of the term, our AGM where we’ll be electing our new Board of Directors. If you think you might want to run, get in touch now by sending an email to info@wpirg.org.

Happy 2016 everyone and see you at one of our events or drop by the office anytime. We’re in room 4222 inside the MSCU Centre for Peace Advancement at Conrad Grebel, Monday to Friday, 11-5pm.

Winter 2016 Refunds


WPIRG is funded by our undergraduate student members who pay a fee of $4.75 per term. The fee allows WPIRG to implement our mandate of supporting UW students and community members to research, educate, and take action on environmental and social justice issues. In any academic year, the WPIRG fee funds several action groups, campaigns and dozens of public events as well as the day to day operations of the WPIRG staff and Board of Directors. 

However members who require or wish to have their fee refunded for any reason may do so in the first three weeks of the term by visiting us in person (Watcard required) at the following location and during the following times:


WPIRG office – room 4222, inside the MSCU Centre for Peace Advancement, Conrad Grebel

Dates and Times: Jan 4-8, Jan. 11-15 and Jan. 18-22, 11-4pm.

For more information, please email us at info@wpirg.org

Announcing Our Fall 2015 Community Builder Bursary Winner


Congratulations to this term’s WPIRG Community Builder Bursary winner: Jessie Penner! 

Jessie is a third year Anthropology major at the University of Waterloo working towards a Bachelors of Social Work. She is passionate about fighting for equity, safety and respect for indigenous peoples in Canada and has volunteered with a number of organizations to this end including the Aboriginal Students Association, the White Owl Native Ancestry Association and the Aboriginal Student Center at Wilfrid Laurier.

Jessie Penner, third from left, with the WPIRG Board of Directors.

Jessie Penner, third from left, with the WPIRG Board of Directors.

About WPIRG’s Community Builder Bursary:

The bursary is valued at $500 and is awarded once in each of the fall and winter terms to two distinct undergraduate students enrolled full-time at the University of Waterloo. All full-time undergraduate students are welcome to apply, with preference given to students who are passionate about community-focused research and organizing. Click here for more information or to apply to our Winter 2016 Community Builder Bursary.

Cinema Politica Waterloo November Screening


Cinema Politica Waterloo, WPIRG, and LSPIRG invite you to join us for the final film of our Fall 2015 Cinema Politica documentary series:

Wednesday, November 18, 7-9pm @ the Princess Cinemas,
46 King St. West., Uptown Waterloo


Tickets are available at the door only.

Admission to Cinema Politica Waterloo screenings are by donation, with a sliding scale suggestion of $5-10, though everyone is welcome and no one will be turned away for lack of funds.


Concerning Violence is both an archive-driven documentary covering the most daring moments in the struggle for liberation in the Third World, as well as an exploration into the mechanisms of decolonization through text from Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth. Fanon’s landmark book, written over 50 years ago, is still a major tool for understanding and illuminating the neocolonialism happening today, as well as the violence and reactions against it.