Another year of advocacy and action at RPRIG’s AGM

In the public interest Sarah Carrier

Supporting students

On Thursday September 17, the Regina Public Interest Research Group (RPIRG) held their Annual General Meeting via Zoom, their first time hosting a virtual AGM. 

RPIRG is a student-funded resource centre at the University of Regina committed to social and environmental justice. Every year RPIRG provides the resources and funding necessary to enable students to organize around issues through research, education, and action. They run the Green Patch, a 5,400 square foot vegetable garden that is volunteer-run, led by one paid student, and all the produce is given out for free. This year was the ninth year running, and it was headed up by Tayef Ahmed, this year’s Green Patch Garden Coordinator.

The Green Patch was the first item on the AGM meeting, because of its success with the newly planted orchard. The perennial orchard will require less maintenance than the typical garden, and will produce yearly once it matures. The orchard included over 50 varieties of perennial trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses. It is located on the Dr. Lloyd Barber academic green between the Research and Innovation Centre, Lab Building, and Classroom building.

“We’re hoping next year we can hold a big celebration for the tenth year,” Lewis said during the AGM.

Some other successes for this year included the one-day Generating Momentum intensives that were held in Regina, Saskatoon, and Prince Albert. Generating Momentum is an activist leadership training camp for youth between the ages of 18-35. The camp is focused on educating, training, and organizing around social and environmental justice issues, and giving youth the tools to create meaningful change in their communities. Ordinarily it is run as a summer camp-like program, and this was the first year with one-day intensives held through the fall/winter/spring.

Krystal described the success of Generating Momentum saying, “It was a way to more deeply connect with communities that we haven’t in the past… it did take away from that overnight camp feel but we gained a lot of insights into doing it in the future.”

There was also the Winter Power Up, previously Apathy into Action, which held a full day campaign planning workshop, to help up-and-coming leaders learn how to campaign, whether it’s for student office, or just on a specific issue.

As well RPIRG managed to give $3,000 to 30 projects, training/conferences, or research products, $3,200 split among 16 microgrants, and other sponsorship donations to 15 projects/initiatives totalling $7,000.

“We have a fund for shorter notice things. For example this past spring there were a few rallies for Black Lives Matter and we wanted to have a fund more readily available and so that was what part of that $7,000 was.”

RPIRG also worked for advocating for a tuition freeze, breastfeeding/parenting rooms, the fight against sexual violence on campus, workers rights awareness, and faculty/student solidarity.

All the funding for these programs were funded largely by the student levy paid during the fall and winter semester. While RPIRG does apply for a few grants, and gets some sponsorship, RPIRG it is largely funded from students. Because of this RPIRG rarely has to charge for events, to ensure they remain open to all students, regardless of financial status. RPIRG also maintains a small term investments savings account, their “emergency” fund, some of which was used this year to make COVID-19 emergency student bursaries this year for students in need. There is an annual financial review done yearly by Priority Accounting Services.

“When looking at RPIRG and when it comes to drafting our budget for the year roughly, we split it into whether it is operations related or program related. Programing includes programs and grants and staff that works on programs. Operations includes our office equipment, insurance, and [Krystal’s] wage as she primarily does our day-to-day operations.”

All of the RPIRG financial papers can be found on their website, underneath of the 2020 AGM heading.

RPIRG is student-run, with a board of directors made up of students. They also have two paid positions, the Executive Director Krystal Lewis, and Outreach & Events Coordinator Julian Wotherspoon.

All University of Regina students that haven’t opted out have access to this grant and microgrant funding. Their advocacy for students and student-led initiatives makes them an invaluable resource on campus. RPIRG will continue to advocate for and provide funding to students this year. While COVID-19 restrictions are in effect, students can still contact RPIRG online, and resources can be found on their website. 

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