LETTER | From the VIPIRG Board of Directors

Letters Opinions

Moving beyond student politics

Regarding the UVSS election and the VIPIRG referendum, we, as the board and staff of VIPIRG, would like to thank the University of Victoria student body for patiently enduring the annual cavalcade of posters, chalking, talking, and politicking that takes over this fair campus every soggy Spring. Due to a referendum threatening VIPIRG’s funding, you are seeing our organization’s name, functions, and calls to vote “No” to discontinuing our funding all over campus, as well.

For that, and for a generally gratuitous waste of resources that could be used for much more fruitful purposes — allocating these funds to students in need? A giant paper collage of Beyonce? — we offer our sincerest acknowledgement of regret that we, too, have been made to participate in this fray.

However, because we have the utmost respect for your right to choose where your money goes, we are happy to have had the chance to provide you with accurate information so that you can make an informed choice in voting in the referendum.

VIPIRG has been delivering on our organization’s mandate in the interest of social and environmental issues through a community-based, collaborative approach for 30 years and we continue to build on our reputation as a stellar UVic campus and community research organization. This is one of the many reasons why we have received the generous support of numerous faculty, students, and staff — both current and former — at the University of Victoria, during this election. You can see all of these testimonials, along with lots of information about VIPIRG and the referendum on our website.

Following news of the motion to take VIPIRG to referendum, the mood in our office was, unsurprisingly, one of depression and shock. What may be trivial student politicking for some is a question of livelihood, reputation, and integrity for the precarious students who come to VIPIRG to work, to volunteer, and to make meaningful contributions to their community and campus life.

But, rather than focus on the aspects that we are not able to control, we chose to focus on continuing to build and deliver on our programming and events for students. We focused on the positive: our amazing student staff, curating our library and helping students connect with resources on campus, developing a research project on the important and silenced issue of sexual misconduct in higher education, collaborating with other parties on and off campus, and hosting free education and training-based events for students regularly on finance, housing, and job skills.

And, in the spirit of lightening the often tense mood of student elections, the Vote No and Save VIPIRG campaign also takes a decidedly lighter approach to student politics offering silly memes instead of empty promises. Hopefully, these posters and paraphernalia have brought a smile to your face during your commute from one class to another, during this often stressful month full of deadlines and exams!

Our philosophy is and always has been one of strengthening community through the spirit of positive collaboration in research, education and action, keeping in mind that community is built not by organizations but by individuals coming together to work on shared goals.

We hope that if students take away one thing from this election it is this spirit of community — represented in the teamwork and hustle displayed by all the slates and well-intentioned campaigns — and its power to affect change.

Indeed, in the words of Margaret Mead, one must “never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world,” and that means people like you. You need only look at what the students, staff, volunteers and supporters of VIPIRG have accomplished throughout the last 30 years in our community to know that Mead’s words hold ever true.

-VIPIRG Board of Directors