For 50 years, Rutgers students have voted every three years to fund their own non-profit that represents the voice of students and the public. We’re NJPIRG Student Chapters and we’ve been making social change and fighting for the public interest since 1972.
Frequently Asked Questions:
NJPIRG Student Chapters was founded at Rutgers in 1972 and has been advocating for problems facing our society for 50 years. We’re a completely student-run, student-funded, non-partisan organization.
Every three years, Rutgers students vote in a referendum to reaffirm our funding. The NJPIRG referendum is the largest student vote in the country.
Recently in the fall of 2022, Rutgers students voted overwhelmingly to fund NJPIRG Student Chapters, with 80% of participants voting yes and over 9,000 students turning out.
Students at Rutgers vote to fund NJPIRG through a $13.01 per student per semester waivable fee on the tuition bill. Students at Rutgers have been a part of NJPIRG Student Chapters for 50 years, pooling their resources to hire staff, such as researchers and grassroots organizers, to work with them on issues they care about.
The elected student Board of Directors decides how to spend our resources and which campaigns to run, such as strengthening the university’s Climate Action Plan, building vote coalitions and running nonpartisan voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, and alleviating hunger and homelessness in our community.
We get results.
In 1971, the first PIRG chapter was founded in Oregon when students came to realize our country has more problems than we deserve and more solutions than we use. These students wanted to make a difference on issues they cared about but saw they didn’t have the time, resources or skills to win on social change campaigns. College students are some of the most idealistic and talented members of our society, but they don’t always have the expertise to make a difference in our political process.
Students here at Rutgers decided to start NJPIRG to provide institutional knowledge, training and professional expertise to make students’ work more effective.
And for 50 years, it’s worked.
The problems that NJPIRG undertakes are large, statewide, and often national in scope. Our goal is not simply to “make our voices heard,” but to win concrete reforms that improve people’s lives. In order to make substantial change, we need organization, resources, and professional staff. Hiring staff is an important part of having an effective statewide organization. They bring expertise to student’s ideas and continuity to long-term student campaigns. Over 80% of our budget is spent on staff. Students have decided to hire a team of organizers, advocates, and lawyers that research solutions, write bills, run campaigns, and lobby full-time on our behalf. Most importantly, they act as an on-campus resources for our interns and volunteers to run effective campaigns each semester.
We have a number of priorities over the next few years. We are working to strengthen the University’s Climate Action Plan to include bolder goals at the level necessary to effectively tackle climate change. We’re working in partnership with vote coalitions, the Eagleton Institute of Politics, and the Offices of Student Affairs on our campuses to continue to increase youth voter participation. We’re fundraising and providing hunger and poverty relief through our campaign against Hunger and Homelessness. And we’re addressing the plastic pollution crisis by working to phase out unnecessary single-use plastics on campus and in our broader communities.
Students decide on the campaigns that they want to work on both locally and at the statewide level. Student can bring campaign ideas to the statewide board, where elected students from different chapters make statewide decisions. The problems that we face aren’t just local – everyone is fighting poverty, environmental destruction, working for affordable education across the state and the country.
The problems that NJ faces do not only occur on campus. In order to effectively fight climate change, tackle the plastic pollution crisis, and take on the big issues facing our society, our staff need to appeal to decision makers across the state and beyond. With statewide grassroots support and staff we are able to take on the special interests that create these problems and win real results for students and the public interest.
An opportunity for Rutgers students to vote to continue funding NJPIRG Student Chapters at Rutgers with a $13.01 waivable fee.
We are increased the fee from $11.20 to $13.01 in 2022 because the cost of running our program has gone up with inflation. In order to provide the same value to students through our leadership training program and professional support, we need to increase our fee proportionately to the increase in the cost of living. This is the first NJPIRG fee increase since 2007.
All students in all colleges, graduate schools, or programs across every campus are eligible to vote and should vote except students who are graduating this fall.
During the referendum, which happens every three years, there are dozens of polling locations across Cook/Douglass, Livingston, Busch, and College Ave in New Brunswick as well as in Camden and Newark. Keep your eyes open for the referendum tables where you can cast your ballot. We promise, you won’t be able to miss them.
The next referendum is scheduled for fall of 2025.
Voting allows the student community to reaffirm funding for NJPIRG Student Chapters. It sets a mandate from the student community affirming their support of NJPIRG’s work. For the referendum results to be valid turnout must exceed 25% of eligible students enrolled at each college. We need your support to continue our to fight for students and build a greener, healthier, and more meaningful future for everyone.
Together we can continue our decades of making change. #Since1972