OSPIRG seeks funding boost

Oregon State Public Interest Research Group (OSPIRG) sought a $30,000 increase in its operating budget from the Student Fee Committee (SFC) at Wednesday’s SFC allocation meeting.

OSPIRG, a statewide research and advocacy group, has offices in campuses around the state and wishes to establish a new office at Oregon State University.

In order to do so, OSPIRG will hire a campus organizer for the OSU office and fund its first year of operation with increased funding from their other offices.

OSPIRG is asking for an increased operating budget of $150,000, up from $120,000, at their University of Oregon and PSU offices.

OSPIRG is also asking for a $6,000 increase for the office at Southern Oregon University.

SFC members expressed concern for both the apparently disproportionate size of OSPIRG’s request at PSU, as well as the overall benefit OSPIRG provides for campus life.

“We offer an opportunity for leadership in a statewide organization,” OSPIRG campus organizer Kari Koch said.

“I wouldn’t be here talking to a big group of people like this without OSPIRG,” said sophomore OSPIRG member Katie Wylie while addressing the SFC.

Additionally, SFC chair Tracy Earll was concerned about the fact that OSPIRG hadn’t participated in referendum with the student body for the past four years. She was also concerned about the lack of data concerning a suspected surplus that OSPIRG didn’t mention in its fiscal reports.

“This is the sort of thing that if not resolved could mean the immediate loss of funds,” Earll said of the surplus fund issue.

Despite OSPIRG’s showing at the allocation meeting, Koch said she was optimistic that her organization would receive the requested increase after talking with SFC members after the meeting to address the issues raised.

OSPIRG produced more numbers for the SFC after the meeting, showing that the increase asked for at PSU was comparable to that asked for at U of O.

“OSPIRG’s never had a surplus that I know of,” Koch said.

On referendum, a process meant to involve students directly in the allocation of student fees, OSPIRG members say it isn’t a matter of a lack of participation in the process so much as a change in the way PSU allocates its funds.

Koch feels that the SFC process is beneficial to student organizations.

“Generally there’s more room to move around in the SFC process. With referendum it tends to be a yes or no,” Koch said.

“We stopped doing referendum because no other student organization on campus was doing it,” Koch said.

Wylie agrees with Koch’s assessment, “We feel that the SFC process is democratic and fair.”