OSPIRG announces plans for upcoming campaigns

Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group, OSPIRG, called upon students to join its upcoming campaigns at its first general-interest meeting of the year Thursday in Smith Memorial Student Union.

Bret Davis, coordinator of the Hunger and Homeless campaign, emphasized the importance of getting involved, even though at times it may seem as though one voice is an insignificant drop in the bucket.

“One phone call or one letter to the parties of authority can make a big difference,” Davis stated. “These people know that for every one person calling, there are likely to be one hundred more who feel the same way but aren’t calling.”

“With the state of the nation the way it is right now, this is the time to get involved,” Davis said. “We are very excited about the new campaigns and the energy that is going into them.”

Tom Hastings, an instructor in conflict resolution at Portland State University, spoke briefly to the crowd and reinforced the reasoning that being proactive about one’s beliefs is positive and productive.

“The main message that I have for students is that whatever positive changes you see coming out of the campus, you did it,” Hastings said. “The ideas came from you, and this is true from campus to campus.”

He recommended a book by David Halberstam, titled “The Children,” as a source of encouragement for those who feel powerless about making a difference in the world.

“Students have a hard time understanding that even though they do turn over every four or so years, they can leave a valuable initiative for incoming students to work with,” he said. “Feel very powerful because you are.”

Hastings agrees with Davis that one voice is equal to many more that go unspoken.

“It is known as the cockroach theory,” he explained. “For every one seen there are probably a hundred more in the walls.”

So each phone call the state receives is seen as representative of many more.

There were four different campaigns discussed at the meeting, and each one’s coordinator addressed the crowd with energetic proposals of what they would like to see happen.

Reina Abolofia, coordinator of the Chief Joseph campaign, spoke briefly of her goals to help preserve the Hells Canyon wildlife region along the Snake River, between Eastern Oregon and Idaho. She noted the heavy boat traffic, cow grazing, logging and building of roads is seriously threatening the natural state of the area, and she would like to see the region come under control of the National Parks and Recreation jurisdiction.

Matt Wallace, coordinator of the Umatilla Campaign, provided insight into the dangers that currently surround the government’s plans for burning the toxic chemical weapons that are in storage at the Umatilla Army depot.

His goals are to change the government’s proposed method of burning them, which will release toxins into the air and require 200,000 gallons of non-recyclable water each day, to a more environmentally conscious method of neutralization. He asks that anybody who is concerned with the idea of burning the weapons write a letter in protest, for which he has a sample letter and addresses.

The Sustainability and Earth Day campaign is an effort to keep the environmental laws from being rolled back on and overlooked. Specific areas of concern include proposed oil drilling in Alaska’s wilderness and the need for cleaner air.

Participants in the Earth Day campaign will be able to work toward improving the health of the earth locally by looking at recycling issues on campus and in many other ways.

The fourth campaign is the Hunger and Homelessness campaign, which aims to combat the lack of attention the homeless issue receives. Their goal is to acquire seven or more interns interested in working with organizations such as the Salvation Army and Sisters of the Road Caf퀌�.

OSPIRG came to PSU in 1973 and was formed by a group of students who claimed to be fed up with the domination of special interest throughout the world. They see themselves as a public watchdog against corporations and organizations that are damaging to the overall quality of the earth and human life.

OSPIRG is currently devising a plan for Gov. Ted Kulongoski aimed at cleaning up the heavily polluted waters of the Willamette River. It is also busy preparing for the Peace for the Earth Parade, scheduled for April 19.

The Web site for OSPIRG is www.ospirg.org, and more information about the Portland State office can be had by calling 503-725-4500.