The Southern Oregon University chapter of the nonprofit and student-run Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group held their kick-off event Tuesday, marking the beginning of a new year of student activism and engagement.
“It’s a definite opportunity, to be able to work with an organization that provides resources that you can make a difference with,” said Thomas Letchworth, SOU chapter chair of OSPIRG. “OSPIRG works towards beneficial change for the students as well as the public at large.”
OSPIRG is funded by multiple colleges in Oregon, including SOU. The university earmarks $2.75 of each student’s tuition to cover OSPIRG’s campaigns.
The organization votes to decide on specific issues that need the most attention in their community, so that they can design campaigns for students to volunteer for. This year, OSPIRG has organized five different campaigns that address important problems not only in the local community, but the world as well.
“The side campaigns are created so that students can get involved directly with issues like homelessness and teaching younger students to use energy more efficiently,” said Emily Genuardi, SOU campus organizer for OSPIRG.
One campaign is dedicated to raising awareness on how unhealthy food has been subsidized by the government, and the link between junk food and other health risks, such as obesity. Volunteers proposed writing to legislators and working with The Rogue Initiative for a Vital Economy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a sustainable local economy, as two of several possible actions to take.
Another OSPIRG campaign is focused on raising awareness about political and corporate corruption, and was even able to get permission to close down Siskiyou Boulevard for their event, “March Forth on March 4th.” A former United States presidential candidate is expected to speak at the event that is also hosting a concert.
The kick-off event garnered many student supporters and generated a lot of interest in the organization’s campaigns. The student speakers at the event offered creative solutions for specific issues, such as giving SOU students the opportunity to educate K-12 students in Ashland, and how that could greatly benefit our community’s future reliance on energy use.
“The idea to come together for positive change is something we are never short on,” said Vice President Jon Eldridge, who spoke at the event. “We need creative and new ideas.”
If you are interested in volunteering for OSPIRG in any of the above campaigns, email Emily Genuardi at firstname.lastname@example.org.