For over four decades, every three years Rutgers students have voted 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.
What is NJPIRG Student Chapters?
NJPIRG Student Chapters was founded at Rutgers in 1972 and has been advocating for problems facing our society for over 40 years. We’re a completely student-run, student-funded, non-partisan organization.
How are you funded?
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 2016, Rutgers students voted overwhelmingly to fund NJPIRG Student Chapters, with 85% of participants voting yes and over 19,000 students turning out.
Students at Rutgers vote to fund NJPIRG through a $11.20 per student per semester waivable fee on the tuition bill. Students at Rutgers have been a part of NJPIRG Student Chapters for over 40 years, pooling their resources to hire staff, such as researchers and grassroots organizers, to work with them on issues they care about. Learn more about the recent referendum victory.
The elected student Board of Directors decides how to spend our resources and which campaigns to run, such as working with the Rutgers Libraries to create a pilot program for affordable textbooks starting spring 2017, working for clean energy, and combating hunger and homelessness.
What does NJPIRG Student Chapters do?
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 over 40 years, it’s worked.
How does NJPIRG spend money?
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 scientists, 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.
What are the priorities for the next few years?
We are working on ways to make higher education affordable through new grants and continuing the success our open textbook campaign, starting with a Rutgers pilot program, launched in partnership with the library, for affordable textbooks in spring 2016. We’re alleviating hunger and homelessness, working to phase out single-use plastics, and working to power New Jersey with 100% renewable energy through multi-year campaigns. And we’re continuing our campaign to save the effectiveness of antibiotics by calling on fast-food restaurants to change their purchasing practices.
Do students in each chapter decide what issues to work on?
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.
Why does NJPIRG work statewide?
The problems that NJ faces do not only occur on campus. In order to clean up our waterways, protect our national forests or lower textbook prices our staff need to go to the decision makers all across the state. With statewide grassroots support and staff we are able to take on the special interests that create these problems and actually win for students and the public interest.
What is the NJPIRG referendum?
An opportunity for Rutgers students to vote on funding NJPIRG Student Chapters at Rutgers with an $11.20 waivable fee.
Who is eligible to vote?
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.
Where can I vote?
There will be over 60 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.
When will the referendum take place?
The referendum will start on October 2019 and will continue for three to six weeks dependent upon voter turnout.
Why should I vote?
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 colleges. We need your support to continue our work fighting for students and the public interest on public health, consumer rights, and our environment.
Together we can continue our decades of making change. #Since1972