How would you feel if you were forced to pay money to a political party on campus every semester? Would you want to pay to support Stephen Harper, Dalton McGuinty, or Thomas Mulcair’s campaign? If you disagree with them, should you be forced to pay them? Of course not.
It is a fantastic exercise to donate to a political party or charity if you support it. It gives you a positive feeling when you contribute to something you love and believe in. However, when you are forced to pay for an ideology you disagree with, it leaves you feeling angry and helpless.
There is an organization on campus called the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG), which participates in a number of initiatives that can only be characterized as radical and at odds with the views of the vast majority of students. I don’t mind that this group exists on campus; diversity is a crucial thing to have. What does worry me is that every student pays a sum of money – for what many amounts to a hidden tax – every semester to prop up this organization when so few students benefit or even know it exists.
OPIRG promotes events which seek to undermine the democratic process, insisting that change will only be achieved through revolution and a complete change in the system. Why must all students pay for this anarchist agenda?
I don’t want to be forced to pay for anti-Harper, anti-Israel, anti-Keystone XL oil pipeline, anti-globalization, anti-G20, anti-government, and anti-corporate protests. This is why I opt out of OPIRG every semester. Likewise, I don’t want to pay for pro-Harper, pro-Keystone XL, or pro-corporate movements. Students should have the freedom of choice. Sadly, more than $50 is deducted from the pocketbooks of students over four years to pay for OPIRG. Every year, OPIRG receives more than $220,000 and provides virtually no value whatsoever for a majority of students.
This group has been criticized for its lack of democracy. As just one example, OPIRG changed its election rules to prevent people who did not share its political orientation from joining its board.
The university has questioned OPIRG’s bookkeeping practices and found that they are not very strong. As there is no public disclosure of its spending on its website, it is very difficult to see precisely what the group is doing with our money. Hopefully OPIRG will put up its budget and meeting minutes, like almost all student government organizations do, so that students can see exactly what it is we are funding.