OPIRG - CHUO Statement

The University of Ottawa Students’ Union (UOSU) finished its by-elections in October 2023. These by-elections set multiple records for our union, seeing 2,999 students cast ballots for candidates and vote on the ten referendums. The UOSU thanks everyone who has participated in student democracy for creating a more representative union pushing student-driven change.

Among the proposed referendums were the ending of student levies to the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) and CHUO 89.1 FM. Despite a well-fought campaign from these groups, students ultimately voted overwhelmingly to stop the levies for both (1852-637 for OPIRG and 1768-769 for CHUO).

Concerns were raised by both organizations about the electoral procedure that was followed. While the UOSU did not take a position on these referendum questions, it does not condone actions that attempt to undermine the democratic will of our students or the targeting of members of our community.

The UOSU maintains that the results of our 2023 by-elections were fair and accurate to the will of students, but we must also act pragmatically. After over thirty hours of debate and deliberation and after receiving extensive advice from legal counsel, the Board recommended to the Autumn General Assembly not to ratify the results of the referendums concerning OPIRG and CHUO. As we explained to the members present, this decision was not made lightly. Had the UOSU ratified these referendums, the odds of entering a prolonged legal battle were high. The Board of Directors was elected on a mandate of serving the best interests of students and saw better uses for student fees than engaging in a lengthy and expensive legal process.

It’s crucial to note that this decision does not influence the amount charged to students, as no changes will take effect until next September. Unless or until a future referendum is proposed and passed by students, the UOSU commits to engaging with both organizations in a manner which is collaborative, professional and serves our joint members.

We remain inspired by the spirit of democracy shown by students on all sides throughout this by-election process. Our union cannot exist without its members, and we invite everyone in our community to share their concerns and participate directly to make our union stronger with each passing day.

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