As proud University of Oregon alumni, we strongly support the continued funding of the Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group (OSPIRG) at the University of Oregon.
When OSPIRG was founded in 1971, our country was rocked by war and political scandal, and confronted with economic and ecological challenges. Forty years later, we have made tremendous progress, but still face unprecedented challenges. Oregonians must grapple with the unsustainable burden of soaring health care costs, fallout from the abuses in our financial markets, the erosion of our political system by special interest money, the devastating threat of climate change, and the need for a robust and.stable education funding system. On all of these issues and more, narrow special interests spend enormous resources to influence public decisions. The need for civic engagement, especially among this generation of college students, is more important than ever.
OSPIRG was established as a way for students to press decision-makers to adopt public interest solutions to these challenges, including solutions developed by the University itself. In doing so, OSPIRG stands as a success story for the University of Oregon’s public service mission – to promote ideas to the larger society to improve the State of Oregon, America, and the world.
By combining the energy of UO students with the expertise and continuity of a professional staff of advocates and organizers, OSPIRG is an important and credible voice to Oregon’s opinion-leaders and decision-makers. The organization has been a force behind accomplishments such as our land use system, Lemon Law, Citizens Utility Board, toxic chemical disclosure and cleanup programs, recycling standards, Motor Voter, Clean Car standards, protections from predatory lending and privacy invasion, and Oregon’s recent landmark effort to control skyrocketing health care costs.
By pooling its resources with students from other schools in Oregon, and often with other PIRGs, University of Oregon students have been able to finance a powerful institution with the capacity to have an impact not only locally, but statewide and nationally as well – for just a fraction of the actual cost were the UO to go it alone. In Washington, DC, the PIRGs were a driving force behind recent reforms to the student lending and credit card industries – students working together to counterbalance the influence of powerful special interests.
By placing rigorous emphasis on ensuring that the process of addressing social problems becomes a profound learning experience for all students at the University, OSPIRG has succeeded in living the maxim, “Think Globally, Act Locally.” OSPIRG’s campus program consistently conducts extensive campus-wide education efforts, involves large numbers of volunteers and interns, and provides critical citizenship training. OSPIRG, together with Oregon Student Association, pioneered a youth voter mobilization model that is now utilized successfully across the country. It is no surprise that many leaders in Oregon government and nonprofit organizations got their start with OSPIRG on campus.
Oregon and America face more challenges than ever before. Now, more than ever, we need our University to play a central role in engaging the next generation in these problems, and promoting practical solutions that make a difference. OSPIRG has proven to be a successful vehicle to help achieve this goal. For that reason, we owe it to future Ducks and Oregonians throughout the state to continue OSPIRG at the University of Oregon.
Jenny Bedell-Stiles, ‘06
Dick Benner, JD ‘75
Anna Binder, UO ’95
Jeff Bissonnette, ’87
Oregon State Senator Ginny Burdick, Masters in Journalism, ‘73
Morgan Cowling, ’99, ASUO Vice-President, 98-99
Lynn-Marie Crider ’74
Merriah Fairchild, ’00
CJ Gabbe, ’01, ASUO Senator
Felisa Hagins, ’01
Spenser Hamlin, 00
Anna Hirsch, ’99
Becki Kammerling, JD ’07
Maureen Kirk, ’89, EMU Board of Directors
Oregon State Representative Tina Kotek
Kalpana Krishnamurthy, ’99, ASUO Student Senate President
Metro Councilmember Robert Liberty, ASUO President, ‘75-‘76
Bill Miner, ’99, ASUO President, 97-98
Dan Mulholland, ‘75
Dalene Neopolitan ’90, ASUO Senator
Michael Olson, ’99, ASUO Student Senate President 98-99
Kevin Parks, JD ’09, ASUO Constitutional Court Chief Justice 08-09, Senator
Henry Richmond, JD ‘71, OSPIRG Incorporator
Oregon State Representative Arnie Roblan, M.A. ‘83
Brenda Sifuentez, ‘06
Mario Sifuentez, ’02
Jesse Simons, ’95
Lane County Commissioner Pete Sorenson, BA ’73, MA ’79, JD ‘82
Oregon State Representative Jefferson Smith ‘96
Bob Stacey, JD ‘75
Becky Stanfield, JD ’94
Matt Swanson, ’01, ASUO Senator
Brian Tanner, ’01, OSA Board Member
Jessica Timpany Frizeel, ’00, ASUO Senate President
Meg West, ’94
Alison Wise, MBA ’00
Ben Unger ’98, ASUO Vice-President, 97-98
Melissa Unger ’01
Geneva Wiki ’99, ASUO President 98-99
Oregon State Representative Brad Witt, MA ‘78