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Sudsy Wants You to Join the Oregon Commentator

No Volunteers

I read a really terrible letter to the editor this morning from a pro-OSPIRG supporter. Anne Ward is the author of the letter, and tries to refute the claims that “saving the world” isn’t a good use of student tax money.

“Why can’t $1.90 go to “saving the world,” if that’s what a significant portion of students desire?”

Of course, no one has shown any proof that paying that $1.90 is something that a majority of students desire. You could even argue (although methodologically it may be subject to questioning) that the majority of students are against OSPIRG based on the votes of their elected representatives in the ASUO.

In the “significant portion of students” I am sure that Ward is referencing the petition signatures that OSPIRG has gathered in the last few months. Of course, such signatures are subject to scrutiny, as Sen. Demic Tipitino remarked at the last ACFC meeting for OSPIRG, “I watched one of your petition gatherers one day. I saw her fill up an entire side of a sheet of signatures without once turning it over to the other side so that the people signing it could read what they were signing.”

Ward goes on to “inform” students of the changes OSPIRG has made in their lives.

The accomplishments OSPIRG has been able to achieve for students are incredible. They’ve signed over 2,000 faculty across the country to commit to open source textbooks, and have been lauded by congressmen as leaders in reforming the textbook market.

What Ward didn’t tell the dear students is that only one UO professor has signed up for open source textbooks. But the number “1” looks pretty shitty compared to “2000 across the country.” Here’s where OSPIRG’s arguments get difficult. With all the of the factors, nationally, that go into making textbook prices rise or fall, it’s impossible for OSPIRG to say that they directly influenced it in a manner that is an efficient return on student money. The statement is overly broad and does not take into account the hundreds upon thousands of factors nationally and worldwide that effect such things.

Ward ends her argument saying she’d gladly pay the extra $1.90 for such “good” things to happen. Of course, Ward isn’t pledging her money, but asking 20,000 students to pledge theirs. And here’s where I see the color of many OSPIRG supporters. They want your money. And they want a lot of it. They can’t work with some smaller amount and alter their model at all — they just want the whole thing. That’s the kind of inflexibility — really, the inflexibility of vision — that made it possible for the ACFC to tell OSPIRG “No.” So why not an attitude of “anything can help” or “we will work with what we’ve got”? For that, I only have one answer in the form of an example.

At the first ACFC meeting for OSPIRG back in February, a fiery CJ Ciaramella asked a rather pointed question to the all-OSPIRG crowd, “So OSPIRG does all these great things right? They’re saving the world? And they don’t have any funding, right? So how many of you here today have donated, privately, to OSPIRG?” With a crowd of about 35 pro-OSPIRG people, only 3 people raised their hand–two OSPIRG employees and a Lane student.

“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” said Ciaramella.

  1. Cheerio says:

    JMB– you’re spot on. Thank you! I wish more folks on campus shared this same spirit of volunteerism.

    OSPiggies (that is, Amelie Rousseau et al) promise their fellow pigglets a 100k+ contract in exchange for grassroot organizing. It is fraudlent and plain wrong. Hopefully we can get the trifecta: a third year without OSPigg on campus!

  2. Josh M. says:

    I’d rather light two dollars on fire than give $1.90 to OSPIRG.

  3. JMB says:

    I’ve been a member of the GTFF since coming here 6 years ago, and back when I was single I used to be more involved in various union activities. One of those activities was arranging enthusiastic people to travel to Salem to lobby/protest for causes they/the GTFF felt strongly about. No one got paid for this, and I don’t even think people got reimbursed for gas money. It was all about people VOLUNTEERING their time and energy doing something they believed in. We didn’t need paid staff in Portland and Salem to get things accomplished. Why does OSPIRG?

    If OSPIRGers really felt as strongly about their purpose as they claim, they would stop spending so much time acting as glorified panhandlers on 13th avenue and start organizing volunteer-led lobbying and protesting efforts. I’m pretty sure the ACFC would give them a budget for money for gas to travel to Salem and other such things.

  4. Henry Kissinger says:

    This “saving the world” argument is quite extraordinary.

    If the ASUO or ACFC ever seriously weighs the merits of saving the world via OSPIRG, they should in all fairness also accept proposals from EVERY OTHER activist group or charity that could also use some I-fee money to help make the world a better place.

    And in turn, if OSPIRG brings up this argument again, they should be ready to compare their effectiveness in saving the world to these numerous alternatives.

  5. Ross Coyle says:

    The Commentator should plant a tree on campus in OSPIRG’s name. Then we’d be spending money to save the environment, beautify campus, and stay local all at once.

  6. Sudsy says:

    C.T. you are correct. The votes on the ballot for OSPIRG are simply a non-binding reminder to the ASUO that some people still support them. It’s for show.

  7. C.T. Behemoth says:

    The Ospirgites definitely do not give everyone signing that petition an objective point of view, not that they should if they want people to sign it. It’s always something like, “Hey man, do you support the environment?” with the implication being that OSPIRG just needs their support (read: not their money). It’s just…underhanded. Given the last 2+ years and their antics during that time, I just find them more and more despicable.

    I also seem to remember there being some clause somewhere stating that groups can’t be funded by referendum; although, I’m not surprised that the little piggies are just trying more ways to get around their problem. What’s worse is that the things they support and ‘fight for’ aren’t the issue. The problem is that when you stare into the OSPIG, it stares back at you…with nothing new to say.

    Save the environment, mmmmkay?

  8. Orev says:

    @Curtis: You know for a fact that around 20% of students vote in elections, so even if the ballot measure receives a majority “yes” votes, it would only represent one in five students. Give students the facts about the PIG, and they’d say that OSPIRG isn’t worth peas, carrots or the stuff that comes out of the back end of a horse.

  9. Curtis says:

    “They can

  10. Kenny Ocker says:

    CJ Ciaramella is a beast.

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