It is my pleasure to report that OSPIRG may be no more. In a unanimous vote tonight, the Athletics and Contracts Finance Committee canceled OSPIRG’s contract, completely defunding the group.
The ACFC’s budget must still be unanimously approved by the ASUO Senate, but even if the Senate rejects the budget, it doesn’t have the power to write or modify contracts *. For the moment, it would appear that OSPIRG is dead in the water.
OSPIRG was given another opportunity to present its case tonight, and members said they were presenting new information. On further questioning, though, one OSPIRG member was forced to admit that their presentation was “a different perspective on the same information.”
One presenter claimed that the ASUO would see a 1,300 percent return on its “investment” of $120,000. It was a little redundant when he then started a sentence by saying, “Now, I’m no economist, but …”
The ACFC first motioned to approve OSPIRG for a $27,866 budget, but the committee could not get clear answers on how that would affect the group.
The ACFC continually pressed the group to explain exactly how their budget would be affected by the cut and what services they could still provide, but OSPIRG waffled every time. When ACFC member and Senate President Alex McCafferty asked for a “yes, no or maybe” answer on whether or not a campus organizer could still be provided for $27,000, one of the presenters said they would have to talk to the OSPIRG board of directors.
This is what caused the committee to vote down its original proposal and later motion for a zero-percent budget.
The room was split between OSPIRG supporters and detractors (left to right, coincidentally). ASUO Executive Sam Dotters-Katz spoke out against the group several times throughout the hearing.
“The issue that I have is not the good things they do for the world,” Dotters-Katz said. “But the purpose of the Incidental fee is not to save the world. It’s to improve the experience of students on campus.”
Department Finance Committee member Brendan Good had strong words for OSPIRG as well, saying “a pig is still a pig, anyway you look out.” (He handed out flyers earlier that said OSPIRG wasn’t kosher. Get it?)
Several ASUO Senators spoke against the group also, such as Derek Nix and Demic Tipitino. Tipitino recommended that OSPIRG be completely defunded and return next year to apply as an ASUO program. (Programs are required to have strict, line-item budget.)
On the other side, Jesse Hough, who ran for ASUO vice-president last year, said that defunding OSPIRG would silence students. Actually, his exact words were, “You’re tearing out my larynx here!”
Former ASUO Senator Diego Hernandez, displaying his trademark wit and tact, also told Dotters-Katz to “shut up” at one point and later went on to accuse several in the room of sexism (for disagreeing with a female OSPIRG supporter, presumably).
All the cries of “student empowerment” and sexism were for naught, though. After about an hour and a half of hearing speakers, the ACFC called the vote to question. ACFC member Tina Snodgrass, after a moment of deliberation, gave the final “aye” for a vote of 4-0-0.
It’s unclear how this will all play out, but kudos to the ACFC for taking a firm stand against the unethical practices of OSPIRG. We’ve been for fighting for this for a long time, and I hope this is truly the end of OSPIRG at the University of Oregon. Until that last nail is finally in the coffin, though, you can count on the Oregon Commentator to keep you updated.
*Senate President and ACFC member Alex McCafferty, in a comment below, says this isn’t the case. I’m assuming then that the ACFC budget must only pass a majority vote by Senate.