Image Credit OSPIRG Facebook Page
The Siskiyou recently interviewed David Teague, the chapter chair of OSPIRG. OSPIRG, or the Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group, is a student-run non-profit and activist group on campus that pushes for policy change across the state. They also “teach students is how to be effective grassroots activists.” In this interview, Teague talks about the importance of OSPIRG and how students can get involved in the organization.
Teague told the Siskiyou that they started in the 1970s at the University of Oregon. It was formed by a group of students who wanted to make the world a better place. They “wanted to organize a group in Oregon to help make better activists especially during a time when climate policy became a big issue.”
Some of the things OSPIRG lobbies for are, “as the name says, public interest.” Mainly environmental issues, as well poverty and hunger issues. They have had a textbook affordability program for years, but the organization mostly focuses on environmental issues. They are also part of a larger network that covers things like consumer protection and the right to repair.
As Teague explains, this larger network is “essentially a coalition of public interest networks. It’s a collection of non-profit activist groups that work together across the country.” As OSPIRG started in the 70s, they have also expanded into another organization in Oregon, also called OSPIRG, which looks after consumer rights. There are also other similar groups across the country in other states like New Jersey, California, Washington, Minnesota etc. Environmental Oregon is another similar group, which branches off the state OSPIRG to focus on the environment. There is a lot of collaboration with other RPIG’s in other states and coalitions with federal lawmakers, with one example is them pushing right to repair.
OSPIRG’s accomplishments and recent achievements are in its students. In the 1970s they helped get the bottle bill passed; this is the bill that adds the 10 cents and allows a person to return the bottle after they are done with their drink. Last year, they had helped get Oregon to adopt a bill for 100% Renewable Electricity, which was pushed hard for by getting thousands of signatures and hosting events. Another accomplishment was getting hundreds to register to vote in the 2020 election. Finally, they also fundraised to help victims of the Almeda Fire to recover and feed themselves.
The Siskiyou asked Teague what things OSPIRG is currently trying to achieve, with which Teague responded, “Since last year, since we helped get the adoptive 100% Renewable Electricity bill passed. We want to expand that to the entire energy sector. This includes the transportation sector as well, in which 100% Renewable Energy is the current lead campaign. Of course, we are still doing the Hunger and Houselessness campaign.”
When asked about upcoming OSPIRG events, Teague said, “We have an event making physical and digital art promoting a coat drive we’ll be having soon scheduled for Tuesday the 9th at 1:00 in our office at SU 127. We’re also looking for volunteers to help us petition for 100% Renewable Energy in Oregon. Our events can be found on our calendar, or on Presence, or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or OSPIRG@sou.edu“