From now until Friday, December 5, full time undergraduate and graduate students have the opportunity to opt-out of paying fees to Ontario Public Interest Research Group-Ottawa (OPIRG).
According to their website, OPIRG’s mandate is to “facilitate and support campus and community activism in Ottawa and strive to work in an anti-oppressive framework.”
In reality, what this means is that OPRIG takes undergraduate and graduate student fees and uses them to fund highly politicized and radical groups, often right under the noses of university students.
Here is a brief selection of the causes that OPIRG is funding this year:
- The University of Ottawa Marxist Students Association: With the hammer and sickle as their logo, the uOttawa Marxist Students Association is draped in the symbols of one of the most oppressive regimes of history, a regime that was responsible for the deaths of more than 60 million people. According to their Facebook page, the Marxist Students Association, also known as the Revolutionary Student Movement, “aims to build a Canada-wide, revolutionary, combative, militant, and anti-capitalist student movement.”
- Fossil Free uOttawa (FFUO): FFUO is associated with the national Fossil Free divestment movement, which advocates for nation-wide divestment from fossil fuels, including coal, oil, shale gas, and natural gas. This idealized environmental principle ignores the obvious fact that the Canadian economy is heavily dependent on investment in the energy sector. If this radical goal were to be realized, the Canadian economy would be crippled. Further, Canadian oil production is the most regulated, monitored, transparent, and socially responsible in the world. Shutting down Canadian oil companies won’t stop the flow of oil around the globe, but it will clear the way for totalitarian, oppressive regimes with unethical, state-run oil companies to increase their profit margins.
- Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR): SPHR is the organization that promotes the annual “Anti-Israel Apartheid Week” and promotes the anti-Semitic BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions on Israeli products) movement events on campus. The Ottawa chapter is part of a larger group that gained national headlines in 2002 for instigating a violent protest at Concordia University, forcing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel his planned speech. Any group that attempts to silence those who think differently than them or actively fight the free market of ideas on a university campus does not have my support.
- Further, in their mission statement, SPHR expresses their belief that the state of Israel does not have the right to exist. Let me be clear, it is perfectly reasonable to criticize specific policies implemented by the Israeli government. But to criticize the very existence of the state of Israel is the root of modern anti-Semitic thought. The State of Israel was formed as a direct response to the atrocities of the Holocaust, so that the Jewish people would finally be able to live free from fear of discrimination, oppression, and slaughter. Anti-Israel sentiments are ignorant of the tragic history of the Jewish struggle.
- In addition to funding these groups, OPIRG also prides itself on running a resource centre devoted to assisting students with “radical resources.”
The list goes on.
According to their 2014 annual report, OPIRG took a total of $167,784.43 from students to fund these groups last year.
While these organizations should certainly be allowed to exist in a free and democratic society, the notion that I should be forced to pay for them with my student fees is simply deplorable.
I decided to opt-out of OPIRG because I don’t support the organizations they fund, and I believe in maintaining control over my own finances. Using student fees for blatantly political causes that don’t represent the real concerns of university students is always wrong.
If you agree with me, you have until Friday, December 5, to opt-out of OPIRG. You will need to go to UCU 215D (behind the Terminus and 1848) for a refund. Don’t forget to bring your student ID card as well as proof of registration for this semester.