OPIRG fee voted down in referendum

Sixty-four per cent of voters cast ballots against the $4 opt-outable OPIRG fee.
Sixty-four per cent of voters cast ballots against the $4 opt-outable OPIRG fee.
Journal File Photo

Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) will no longer collect an AMS student fee. In Wednesday’s referendum, 62 per cent of voters cast ballots against the $4 opt-outable fee.

“I was just really sad,” said OPIRG Kingston co-ordinator Kavita Bissoondial.

OPIRG has collected a $4 student fee since it started in 1992, with successful referendum approval every three years. The fee amounts to approximately $36,000, nearly half of OPIRG’s annual revenue.

NOPIRG, a campaign against OPIRG’s fee, started on Jan. 24.

“I mean we were really unsure about what the result was going to be especially after the last day of campaigning. But, we were really hopeful,” Bissoondial said.

She said the NOPIRG campaign became personal and aggressive.

“The effects and the damage the NOPIRG campaign has caused, not just in regards to eliminating OPIRG but personally, are going to sit beyond this election,” Bissoondial, ArtSci ’10, said.

Bissoondial said OPIRG plans on repairing its relationship with students after the NOPIRG campaign painted her organization “as an unfriendly, anti-student organization.

“We’re run for and by students,” she said. “OPIRG is such an amazing organization and we’re not going away just because we lost this fee this time around.”

NOPIRG chief organizer Stuart Clark said he will be celebrating the result with his volunteers.

“I’d like to thank the people of OPIRG as well … who helped facilitate the democratic process, “Clark, ArtSci ’14, said on Wednesday night.

NOPIRG started under the Facebook page QSAFE. Clark said he will be looking at how QSAFE will operate in the future with other campus groups’ student fees. The NOPIRG campaign focused on Bissoondial’s salary and other aspects of OPIRG.

“I think that we really struck a chord, especially with the $30,000 salary message,” he said.

For full story see Friday’s issue of the Journal.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.