ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 06/01/2016
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.