For over four decades, students have voted to fund their own non-profit that represents the voice of students and the public. OSPIRG Students has been making social change and fighting for the public interest since 1971.
What is OSPIRG Students?
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.
OSPIRG 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 OSPIRG 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 Salem 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. For example, we helped ban plastic bags here in Eugene to protect our waterways and we’ve helped set up programs for more online, free textbooks for students.
How is OSPIRG Students Funded?
OSPIRG Students is funded through the student body at the University of Oregon, Southern Oregon University, and Lane Community College.
At the University of Oregon, OSPIRG Students is funded through a $1.75 per student, per term refundable student fee that students reaffirm every 2 years through a student body vote. Students at UO have been a part of OSPIRG Students for 40 years, pooling together their resources statewide with other OSPIRG chapters to hire staff, such as advocates and grassroots organizers, to work with them on issues that they care about.
How does OSPIRG 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 Salem and Portland, and DC full-time to fight for the issues that students care about and will benefit the public interest.
The problems that OSPIRG 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, phones, etc.
What are the priorities for the next few years?
There are constantly attacks on laws that protect our environment or consumers; and unfortunately the special interests spearheading these attacks have a lot of money and influence. OSPIRG 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 Oregon 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. We’re tackling the issue of bee die-offs by pushing or the ban of bee-killing pesticides. And we’re working to alleviate hunger and homelessness in our community.
How does OSPIRG Students choose its issues?
OSPIRG 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 student board makes its decisions based on which campaigns fit within OSPIRG’s mission, which is to fight for the public interest and to provide the greatest good for the greatest number of people over the longest period of time.
What is the OSPIRG Students reaf at the UO?
An opportunity for University of Oregon students to reaffirm funding OSPIRG Students at the UO with a $1.75 refundable student fee.
Who is eligible to vote in the UO reaffirmation?
All students—undergraduate and graduate—who pay the i-fee are eligible to vote and should vote.
Where and when can I vote?
The OSPIRG reaffirmation is on the ballot for the ASUO Election taking place in 2021.
Why should I vote?
The OSPIRG Students reaffirmation secures our funding at the UO so we can continue to be an effective force for social change. Our community needs a group like OSPIRG Students that helps harness the energy of young people and trains students to have an impact on pressing real world issues affecting our generation.
Voting yes supports our campaigns to tackle climate change, save bees by banning bee-killing pesticides, protect our oceans by moving our community away from single-use plastics, make textbooks more affordable by promoting online, free textbooks, and helping provide hunger relief for people in need in our community.