Op-Ed: OSPIRG supports student activism

News Daily Emerald
UO OSPIRG hosts “Jar Jam” at the EMU Amphitheater on March 5, 2019 as part of a campaign to ban single-use plastics. OSPIRG Students is a student-run nonprofit that has been working for social change at UO since 1971. (Sarah Northrop/Emerald)

This piece reflects the views of OSPIRG, and not those of Emerald Media Group. It has been edited by the Emerald for grammar and style. Send your columns or submissions about our content or campus issues to [email protected]

OSPIRG Students is a student-run non-profit that has been working for social change at the UO since 1971. Most students know us for our beloved “Save the Bees” and “Wildlife Over Waste” campaigns. Bees are dying off due to neonics, a bee-killing pesticide, so OSPIRG is working to ban the pesticide statewide. Sea turtles and other marine life are also dying off due to the massive amount of single-use plastic trash going into our oceans, so OSPIRG is working to pass both a city and state ban on the worst of the worst single-use plastic: polystyrene foam cups and takeout containers.

OSPIRG runs campaigns to make social change on every level at once. We work on campus action while making citywide and statewide change and running campaigns at a national level. This variety in levels of action in unison with our winning streak on campaigns, makes us one of the most politically successful groups on campus. We are constantly speaking with legislators and getting student and community petition signatures to pass things like the plastic bag ban in Eugene a few years ago and getting UO to become a bee-friendly campus last school year.

In order to run successful social justice campaigns, we hire professional organisers to train students. They train students on a variety of skills including: public speaking, running lobby meetings, understanding the political process of passing legislature, getting petitions from the student body, advocating to people of power, taking on leadership roles, contacting the media, etc. Hiring staff to teach student interns these skills requires funding.

OSPIRG works for students on campaigns chosen by students and supported by students, so it makes sense that our funding comes from students and is voted on by them. Every two years, students get the chance to reaffirm OSPIRG’s funding of $1.75 per student per term of the student I-fee. We pool this money together statewide to hire professional staff such as lawyers, advocates, and organizers.

Students deserve to have the power to vote on where their money goes. Voting in the ASUO elections gives students that chance. Next quarter you’ll get a chance to vote in the OSPIRG referendum in support of a student group working to fight for zero hunger, get free open textbooks, save the bees, put wildlife over waste, and other public interest issues.