OSPIRG Mission Statement
The Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group Education Fund (OSPIRG) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan student-directed and student-funded public interest group founded in 1971. We were created by students on the principle that students have an obligation to think beyond their self-interest and make Oregon, America and the world a better place for everyone, not simply for those who inhabit the campus.
Our mission is twofold:
First, to engage in non-partisan analysis, study or research of such issues of general public interest as environmental preservation and consumer protection.
Second, to make available to the public and policymakers a full and fair exposition of the pertinent facts and results of non-partisan analysis, study and research so that citizens and policymakers may form independent conclusions beneficial to the community.
Students, Organizers, Advocates. Together we can make change happen
Our great state and nation have huge challenges - from global warming to the escalating cost of college.
Our colleges were established in large part to promote solutions to these problems (for example, check out UO’s mission statement).
These are issues that impact students as citizens beyond the borders of campus. These are also tough issues to take on because powerful special interests like the oil lobby and health insurance companies have millions of dollars to spend to influence our government. In order to balance out these special interests and make real change on these issues students need a voice where decisions are being made – in Salem, Portland, and Washington, DC.
In turn, OSPIRG was established by students to animate the University’s mission – to research problems that impact all Oregonians, educate the public and advocate for solutions. We do this by combining the energy of students with the expertise and continuity of a professional staff of advocates and organizers who work both on and off campus to advocate for the public.
Over the last forty years, OSPIRG has helped students become an important and credible voice to Oregon’s opinion leaders and decision-makers.
OSPIRG was established by students first at the University of Oregon in 1971.
In the process of promoting the public interest, we’ve created learning opportunities for thousands of students each year through class presentations and campus events. We have trained thousands of Oregonians in citizenship skills and catapulted many into local, statewide and national leadership positions: from 1000 Friends of Oregon founder Henry Richmond; to Citizens Utility Board Director Bob Jenks; to Organizing for America’s Ivan Frishberg; to Northwest Mothers’ Milk Bank Chair Merriah Fairchild.
In the 70s, 80s and 90s, student-led research and public education played important roles in creating Oregon’s land use system and the bottle bill; and establishing consumer protections such as the lemon law, fair electric utility rates, and protections from misleading payday lending practices.
With the Oregon Student Association, we jointly pioneered a youth voter mobilization model that is now used across the country; OSPIRG volunteers and staff themselves have helped over 50,000 students register to vote since 2004.
The OSPIRG Renters’ Guide helps hundreds of tenants – both student and nonstudent – clarify and advocate for their rights each year. Our annual Toy Safety report is covered by most media markets in Oregon and has prompted federal officials to recall numerous unsafe toys over the years. OSPIRG’s ongoing partnership with the Lane County Food bank helps channel the energy and resources of the campus to help many in our community with urgent survival needs.
Our investigation into the high cost of textbooks sparked Congressional investigations into the practices of the textbook industry. Our policy ideas to incentivize faculty to choose cheaper textbooks, such as requiring textbook publishers to disclose their prices to professors, have been incorporated into federal and state law.
Our investigations into health insurance prices identified numerous areas of waste. In many cases, state officials have agreed, cutting over $150 million in waste from premiums since 2010. The State of Oregon now contracts with OSPIRG Foundation to provide ongoing analysis of major health insurance rate hike proposals.
Our research exposed previously-secret details of over $600 million in state corporate tax subsidies, and uncovered a way to keep $40 million a year in Oregon that otherwise would be hidden in offshore tax havens.
Our advocacy brings the voices of student and non-student Oregonians into the halls of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, now working to help students and consumers better navigate the financial marketplace.
Our most important accomplishment, however, is the direct learning opportunities these projects and campaigns have created for the student body – both for students who get directly involved in the program and for the campus at large.
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Work on important issues, learn valuable skills, get hands-on experience, and make a difference.