The OC Blog Back Issues Our Mission Contact Us Masthead
Sudsy Wants You to Join the Oregon Commentator

ACFC Denies OSPIRG Funding for 2011-2012

ASUO Vice President Maneesh Arora listens to the proceedings during OSPIRG's hearing before the Athletics and Contracts Finance Committee Wednesday, February 2. ACFC did not vote on a contract, leaving the group with no fee funding for the 2011-2012 academic year. Photo by Ross Coyle.

Sen. Evan Thomas criticizes OSPIRG's funding model and accountability process during the group's hearing before the Athletics and Contracts Finance Committee Wednesday, February 2. The meeting ended without a contract being approved. Photo by Ross Coyle.

EUGENE – The Athletics and Contracts Finance Committee adjourned its scheduled hearing for OSPIRG without a vote on the activism group’s proposed $117,000 contract Wednesday evening. Without further action by OSPIRG, the Senate, or the Executive, ACFC’s refusal to vote on a contract means OSPIRG will not receive funding from the ASUO for the third year running in 2011-2012.

During OSPIRG’s presentation, Charles Denson, state board chair for OSPIRG, described the group’s student-driven mission by saying “When we’re looking at what we’re working on, we have to be accountable to you all.” Other presenters detailed the group’s work with legislators of both parties on issues such as health care reform.

Following the group’s presentation, ASUO Chief of Staff Ben Eckstein submitted the Executive’s recommendation of a $117,000 contract, a recommendation which was backed up by ASUO President Amelie Rousseau, who stated that “students really do want [OSPIRG].” Others who spoke in favor of approving the contract included Sen. Zachary Stark-MacMillan and ASUO Vice President Maneesh Arora, who cited a referendum on OSPIRG funding which passed with 51% in favor last year.

Not everyone in the room was supportive of OSPIRG, however. Sen. Evan Thomas stated his opposition to the group came not from their mission, but from their funding model. “The idea of having a mandatory fee for a public interest group is just hypocritical,” Thomas said. Thomas continued to say that the current accountability model was “not good enough.”

Other senators, the only ones allowed on the speakers list besides OSPIRG representatives, committee members and Executive staff, heaped on the concerns. Sen. Kristina Harding asked to see the group’s budget, Sen. Brian Powell inquired as to the group’s size and Sen. Janet Brooks pointed out that the majority of students did not vote on the ballot measure Arora mentioned.  Summing up her colleague’s points, Sen. Kaitlyn Lange quipped that “There’s a reason we’re not the only [institution] that’s defunded them.”

Few were quite as direct in their criticisms of OSPIRG as the committee’s two senators. Sen. Ian Fielding read from an opinion column recently printed in the Oregon Daily Emerald and pointed out that OSPIRG has been the only contract to actively lobby ACFC members. Sen. Brianna Woodside-Gomez said she had felt intimidated by the group’s lobbying efforts.

Woodside-Gomez described receiving text messages, emails to her personal account and being “cornered” during her office hours. Woodside-Gomez also expressed displeasure with some of OSPIRG’s other campaign tactics, referencing petitioners who were recently working to get another referendum on the ballot for this year’s ASUO elections. “They can’t even tell me what OSPIRG is,” she said of some of the petitioners she talked to.

At the conclusion of her remarks, Woodside-Gomez moved to adjourn the meeting, a motion supported by every member of the committee except Clark Kissiah, the Executive’s appointee. Baring an appeal, ACFC’s budget will be without an OSPIRG contract for its final hearing before the Senate on March 2, 2011. Woodside-Gomez told the Commentator that unless the group appealed the decision, another hearing would not be schedueled. “Four people decided to adjourn; that’s basically saying that ‘no, we do not agree with funding for OSPIRG,’” Woodside-Gomez said.

  1. Rockne Andrew Roll says:

    From front to back: Sen. Thomas, Robert D’Andrea, and yours truly. Perfect microcosm of the different sides of the OSPIRG issue.

  2. Fizzle T. Bizzle says:

    My arm is definitely in the upper right of the EPT photo.

  3. Lyzi Diamond says:

    They can veto the final budget once it passes Senate, regardless of what it includes.

    Another interesting point that Nora Simon made in her piece in the Ol’ Dirty: this is the last year the state PIRG is going to float the student PIRG.

    The composition of the photo of EPT is pretty great.

  4. Andrew says:

    Could someone clear this up- in the last line of the Emerald article Amelie stated- “The Executive is prepared to veto a budget that does not include OSPIRG,” My understanding is that the only thing ACFC did was choose to take no action by “not adding” a new OSPIRG contract. How can Exec veto the lack of something? The only reference to veto power I can find in the GTN is concerning vetoing a program budget, but since ospirg isn’t i-fee funded and so therefore they don’t have a budget, how would a veto even apply?

  5. Miles Rost says:

    Of course they’re gonna do that. And the power of the alumni will come back to squash each and every one of those bastards like a big. Except for Charlie Denson, who may be given a wedgie, his underwear attached to the flagpole, and hoist at dawn.

  6. Fizzle T. Bizzle says:


  7. Fizzle T. Bizzle says:


  8. Heh. says:

    And you can bet your boots that they’ll be back on the streets next time around, complaining to students, just like they did this year, about how the mean ol’ Commentator arrays the forces of reaction against them in a fascistic orgy of hate… a bit like they did this year.

    Which is to say I overheard a couple of “I LOVE MY OSPIRG” goons chatting with one another out on 13th.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.