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The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

GPSA holding referendum on Food Pantry fee increase

Referendum can be voted on until Friday, similar referendum was held one year ago
The fee increase would raise the fee by $5 for graduate students.

GPSA will be including a referendum to increase Cougar Food Pantry fees for graduate students by $5.

Madison Hönig, GPSA community affairs chair, said she is a member of the special committee for food security. This fee is proposed in part so graduate students contribute fairly to the food pantry, as the pantry is currently mostly funded through the ASWSU fee.

“This is something the undergraduate students do,” Hönig said. “We would be matching that fee and, according to our bylaws, we need 15% of our constituents to vote total and the majority of that to be in favor for the referendum to pass.” 

This year is the second time the referendum has been proposed, Hönig said. It was proposed last year but did not pass.

“We are going to be having an in-person polling station on Friday, March 8 from 10 a.m. to noon in the GPSA office which is CUB 308,” she said. “We’re hoping to increase voter turnout in order for us to reach that minimum threshold.”

Outside of voting in person, students should be receiving a personalized link in their email if they would like to vote that way, Hönig said. With the extra money, one of the positive uses could be to use the funds to purchase culturally important foods.

Nazua Idris, GPSA Senator Carson College of Arts and Sciences, said she is also a member of the special committee for food security. The funds can also be used to buy healthier foods, which are generally more expensive.

“Some people kind of shared concern with who will supervise if we pay, who will supervise that that money is actually going into buying food,” Idris said. “I think GPSA will also have some representative of the food pantry committee to oversee that things are going well.”

The voting began at 8 p.m. Monday and will end Friday at 11:59 p.m., Hönig said. Except the referendum last year, there has not been another time the fee increase has been proposed.

“We did modify the question slightly to be more in line with some of the language the university uses in terms of fees,” she said. “We included ‘graduate and professional students’ which was not included in the previous question, so some clarifying language.”

“Shall the fee-paying Pullman graduate and professional students establish a $5 per semester mandatory fee to support the Cougar Food Pantry to continue utilizing the services and supplement funds provided by fee-paying undergraduate students?” the referendum reads.

Hönig said a few other differences between this year and last year are that there was not an in-person polling station and they were not as strategic with their efforts to advertise the referendum to students.

“I think the biggest challenge is making people understand the importance of the fee because we are already overburdened with tons of fees,” Idris said. “That’s why this time the committee is really working hard to make sure people are aware of all the details as much as possible.”

For students who are considering voting against currently, Hönig said studies have show students who are food insecure tend to have lower GPAs and are often associated with anxiety and depression.

“In our case, about 40% of the food pantry users are graduate students,” she said. “You can’t perform well as a graduate student if you’re hungry. It’s as simple as that.”

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JOSIAH PIKE, Evergreen news co-editor
Josiah is a sophomore broadcast journalism and broadcast production double major. He is from Lakewood, Washington and began working for the Evergreen in Fall 2021.
MIKAYLA FINNERTY, Editor-in-chief
Mikayla is a journalist, illustrator, and photographer for The Daily Evergreen. She was the Social Media Editor for Spring 2022, and Managing editor for Fall 2022. She is a multimedia journalism major and plans to graduate in 2023. Mikayla enjoys reading, baking, and drawing in her free time.