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Sudsy Wants You to Join the Oregon Commentator

Sudsy caught parading inside the Ol’ Dirty, Emerald tests self for rohypnol.

On Tuesday, the Emerald featured a front page article and a two-page spread inside on the Oregon Students Public Interest Research Group, titled, “The OSPIRG you can’t see.” One could certainly receive better insight into the program by perusing through the OC archives, but the ODE hits the main points. The Ol’ Dirty mentions the “Nader Raider” beginning of the group, the Emerald’s 1971 editorial calling the group “the most powerful weapon ever held in the hands of students,” and the opposing forces through the years, which includes the OC on numerous occasions and recently Portland State’s student government.

“It’s just not fair,” [former Portland State OSPIRG member Claire] Tripeny said. “We’re paying people’s salaries who are not on campus … I just haven’t seen any of the results affect my campus, and if we’re paying for it I’d like to see it.” …

University of Oregon members say the funding model is fair. Wih the professional conglomeration that comes from paying salaries off campus, OSPIRG is able to “run with the big dogs,” and “magnify the voice and impact of the average student,” according to papers filed to the PFC.

Two letters to the editor were printed this week in favor of OSPIRG, so I wrote this guest commentary, which was in the Emerald today:

If you go to the Web site of the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group and the Oregon Students Public Interest Research Group, you will notice that contact information for the two groups, which claim to not be tied together, are the same: 1536 SE 11th Ave, Portland, OR; (503) 231-4181 … For all we know, the rent could be a convenient way to launder money to the state OSPIRG, which could then use student funds to lobby its campaigns in the state agenda. …

Don’t worry, students. If you don’t like OSPIRG’s history of political tactics, it does not mean you hate the environment (they will probably tell you that to get support).

Despite a little negative press here and there, however, UO OSPIRG chapter received a 2.89% budget increase, the executive recommendation, last night by the Programs Finance Committee. The group’s 2008-09 budget will be $117,244.

I would have an in-depth coverage of the hearing, but I was doing research on the atmosphere of Mac Court during the Oregon-UCLA basketball game. The Emerald’s Robert D’Andrea told me the discussion was tabled once and took about three hours total. Several PFC members were not supportive of OSPIRG’s funding, but ASUO Senator Nick Meyers was the most outspoken. He was harshly told by ASUO President Emily McLain and ASUO Accountant Lynn Giordano to leave politics out of the discussion and focus on the numbers. Leave politics out of an OSPIRG discussion? That’s like leaving booze out of an OC staff meeting.

The opposition mounting at Portland State could lead to a huge blow to OSPIRG. The campus chapter there received $128,235 this year, about two-fifths of OSPIRGs budget. With this type of momentum, it may be time for another vote at the U of O to decide if students still believe they should be paying for OSPIRG.

  1. Steve Plunk says:

    Insulted by a fake Libertarian! After I cry myself to sleep and take another look at my pathetic life in the morning I may go audit writing 121 again. I guess the higher ed system failed me. Boo hoo.

  2. V says:

    Fuck off “A Concerned Libertarian.” Get some courage to have a real name. And you are so not a libertarian…

  3. A Concerned Libertarian says:

    Well “Steve Plunk” it is great to see that after all of these years you still find time to contribute to this awesome magazine (note sarcasm). You must have done a lot with your life (note sarcasm). I bet you have an amazing job, a loving family and a lifetime’s worth of wisdom (note sarcasm).

    NOTE: due to the pathetic excuse of writing above…I felt it was necessary to help you interpret what I say. In fact, it seems like most of the OC staff has a problem understanding simple concepts. They only see it through their mentally damaged “life lense.”

  4. Steve Plunk says:

    Ah, the joys of student government and incidental fees. I miss it so much.

    Back in the olden days (1984) a few of us at SOU (it was SOSC back then) questioned the wisdom of funding the Oregon Student Lobby. It ignited the same sort of poopy storm I see churning up there today. Some believe in the collectivist approach and really like funding groups to represent them but others, the thinkers, see these groups as too broadly focused to be effective or in many cases actually unrepresentative of their own views. The other problem is giving cash to a group that is nothing more than amatuers dabbling in politics. In the end the status quo was maintained but it got some people thinking about those damn fees.

    Well the fees are still around supporting most every thing imaginable and some things not even imaginable. It pains the heart. The question and problem is how do tear down something so entrenched in four years and while going to school? That’s a tough one. Maybe get some of that cash for a group that turns around and sues the University to stop collecting the fees like union dues? Maybe show the legislature how this money is being pissed away on a daily basis? Maybe get enough like minded students elected to scuttle the whole scheme? Crap, if some of those senators didn’t even know about the student senate and what it did how hard could it be?

    Fees are a cash cow that will always attract the vultures and there will always be plenty of vultures floating around a university waiting for that next government job to open up at the welfare office (that’s what it’s for, the welfare of the employees, not the people) or the post office. While they wait the easy scavenging off student fees is too hard to resist and their like minded kindred spirits weasel them into the job. How depressing.

    As they say, it will take years and cost millions of lives but what the hell you guys seem up to it. Good luck.

  5. Ossie says:

    UPDATE: D’Andrea’s report on the budget hearing was printed today with some sad/funny results:

    Still, Wilsey said he hadn’t seen OSPIRG “at all” on campus, and committee member Mei Li Yu said she had never heard of OSPIRG before last week. Committee member Tri Vo said he “had no idea of OSPIRG.”

    Sen. Lauren Zavrel chided the committee later: “Obviously, even though your office is right across the hall from our office, apparently we don’t see the big OSPIRG sign.”

    Zavrel said that before she was a senator, she didn’t know about the Senate or the PFC.

    So we have a group not earning its funding, PFC members who have no idea about arguably the most disputed use of students funds in I-fee history and an ASUO senator who had no clue that there was a ASUO Senate until she joined it. What the … !?! Even funnier (sadder?), Li Yu is the PFC Tag for all the contracts, which includes OSPIRG, according to the 08-09 PFC Budget Process packet. Of course, OSPIRG doesn’t need help from a PFC member while creating its budget proposal, the group has people up in Portland to tell them how to do that.

    When the hearing re-opened later in the night:

    Meyers questioned why, after so many years, so many people dislike OSPIRG and mentioned negative articles in the Oregon Commentator.

    ASUO President McLain, who had attended the entire hearing, interrupted. “I think we are verging very closely on a breach of viewpoint neutrality,” she said, accusing Meyers of questioning “how they are perceived politically.”

    Meyers shouted back and McLain yelled over him, “It is a legal issue, and I think we are very close to the line.”

    “My point is OSPIRG is telling us that they are going to great lengths to explain themselves” but still have many detractors, Meyers said.

    “I think we are terribly off the point,” ASUO Accountant Lynn Giordano said. “Let’s get back to finances.”

    Wilsey said he saw no reason why the committee wouldn’t follow the Executive’s recommended budget, saying the charges against OSPIRG were “ambiguous.”

  6. Timothy says:

    Also, it should be noted, that Owen was not EIC when the suit was filed, his not being a fee-paying student at the time of the suit was one of the reasons the case went in favor of the PRIGers.

  7. Ossie says:

    We found the letter that Judy wrote to you guys. It’s pretty funny. I was actually suprised to see the lil bugger in there. It’s too bad we have not got around to filing those copyright papers.

  8. T says:

    After all the lectures Judy at the Emerald gave me about “taking the ODE’s copyrighted material” (i.e. mugshots of columnists to use in OC Asks) when I was at the OC, they just go and snatch Sudsy.

  9. Vincent says:

    The Emerald’s website is also running a little poll asking students to weigh in on whether or not OSPIRG is worth their money. 53% of respondents have voted “Yes, [OSPIRG] deserves all the money it gets.”

    The Daily Emerald’s poll software also doesn’t appear to prevent people from the same IP address from voting multiple times. At the very least, if it ignores multiple votes from the same IP, it does so quietly.

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