Don’t defund, demand change
The Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) is an organisation on campus that supports research projects and action groups, most notably the Revolutionary Student’s Movement (RSM), which describes itself as a “pan-Canadian marxist student organization” on its Facebook page. Many students who are ideologically opposed to the group have called for the defunding of OPIRG, including members of the University of Ottawa Campus Conservatives.
OPIRG’s other action groups include the People’s Republic of Delicious, Wild Pollinator Partners, Millhaven Lifers Liaison Group, Critical Urban Research Society, and Students for a Solidarity Economy.
According to OPIRG, students who wish to get a refund on their OPIRG fees may do so from Nov. 19 to Nov. 30. Individual semester fees for full-time undergraduate students are $3.95, and $2.50 for full-time undergraduate students. (Although, the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO)’s website claims that students give $4.09 to OPIRG).
Obviously, students’ money shouldn’t be going towards something that they don’t support, but defunding OPIRG entirely isn’t the right way to go about it. If students are so concerned with OPIRG’s support of the RSM, through going to OPIRG as a concerned student and having your opinions heard, change may occur much quicker than taking your three bucks and hightailing it out of the office. In this instance, words may speak louder than money.
Take for example, the SFUO student levy breakdown. Of the $104.64 that individual full-time undergraduate students give, $28.77 is given directly to the SFUO. This is more than what’s allocated to the Food Bank, Student Appeal Centre, Bilingualism Centre, Pride Centre, Women’s Resource Centre, Peer Help Centre, Multi-Faith Centre, CHUO FM, Legal Aid Clinic, Clubs, and Refugee Student Fund combined.
After the student levies have been paid out, it may be a logistical nightmare to get the refunds processed to students. Students should still be able to get refunds for things they are fundamentally opposed to funding, but instead of outright calling for the defunding of these services, maybe an understanding between all parties can be reached.
If a student fundamentally opposes the opinions of a Fulcrum editor for example, they should take it up with that particular editor and not take it out on the entire paper by getting their $3.40 refunded. If a student disagrees with the way the SFUO is being conducted, that $28.77 gives them the clout to demand change within student government.