For over four decades, students have voted to fund their own organization that represents the voice of students and the public. WashPIRG Students has been making social change and fighting for the public interest since 1976.
What is WashPIRG Students?
We’re a statewide student directed and funded group that advocates for the environment, our public health, and democracy.
We should live in a world with a safe, clean, and stable environment, where our economy and corporate practices don’t threaten public health, and where everyone has the opportunity to make their voices heard and we have a democracy that works for everyone. We need to stop the worst impacts of climate change by transitioning off fossil fuels and to 100% clean and renewable energy. We need to stop the flow of unnecessary single-use plastics into our environment. We need to fix our farming practices so we don’t need to rely on pesticides that kill bees or antibiotics that lead to incurable infections. We need to rethink our food production and distribution so thousands of pounds of food aren’t wasted everyday while people go hungry. And we need the next generation to play a role in fixing these problems and pushing for a better future, starting with voting in our elections.
WashPIRG Students works to take on these issues by giving students the skills, opportunities, and resources to make real change. We combine the idealism of students with the expertise of professional staff who train students to run effective campaigns and create a greener, healthier, and more meaningful future.
What does WashPIRG Students do?
We run campaigns on issues that are in the public interest. This can take a variety of forms, but usually involves advocates working directly with decision makers in Olympia or Washington DC, along with students and organizers working in communities to build and demonstrate public support for our solutions. Through that, we get results.
Current campaigns: Affordable Healthcare, Hunger and Homelessness, Beyond Plastic, Affordable Higher Education.
What has WashPIRG accomplished?
100% Renewable Energy – 2019 helped pass Washington 100% Clean Electricity Bill.
Youth Voter Engagement – 2018 helped establish automatic voter registration and same day registration.
Beyond Plastic – 2021 helped ban single use plastic bags and foam cups and take out containers
How is WashPIRG Students Funded?
WashPIRG Students is funded through the student body at the University of Washington and Evergreen State College.
At the University of Washington, WashPIRG Students is funded through a $3 per term fee that students can add to their term bill when they register for classes. Student reaffirm their support for WashPIRG every four-years through a student body vote. Students at UW have been a part of WashPIRG Students for 50 years, pooling together their resources statewide with other WashPIRG chapters to hire staff, such as advocates and grassroots organizers, to work with them on issues that they care about.
How does WashPIRG Students spend money?
We spend the largest portion of our income on hiring professional staff – organizers, advocates and researchers – some work on campus and others work in Olympia and Seattle, and DC full-time to fight for the issues that students care about and will benefit the public interest.
The problems that WashPIRG undertakes are large, statewide, and often national in scope. Our goals are not simply for students to “make their voice heard” on these issues, but to win concrete reforms that improve people’s lives. In order to make real, substantial change, we need organization and resources. Staff are an important part of having an effective statewide organization. They bring expertise to students’ ideas and continuity to long-term student campaigns.
We also spend a smaller portion on basic things it takes to run an organization – printing, materials, etc.
What are WashPIRG’s priorities for the next few years?
WashPIRG is working both on a state and federal level to protect good laws that are on the books so that we don’t roll back decades of progress that has been made. But we’re not just playing defense. We’re working on new ways to make higher education affordable by fighting to lower the cost of textbooks. We’re working to make sure that Washington leads the way to fight climate change by repowering our communities with 100% clean and renewable energy. We’re working to protect our oceans by getting our communities to rethink our use of single-use plastics like foam takeout containers. And we’re working to alleviate hunger and homelessness in our community.
How does WashPIRG Students choose its issues?
WashPIRG Students is run by an all student board of directors who decide which campaigns to work on and which issues to prioritize. Any student can bring campaign ideas to the statewide board. The board makes decisions about which campaign fit within WashPIRG’s mission, which is to advocate for the greatest number of people over the longest amount of time.