It appears that the Guelph chapter of the Ontario Public Interest Group (OPIRG) is once again facing charges of being too radical a political group on the University of Guelph campus, and should have its funding pulled. Say what? Who could possibly have a problem with a group that's volunteer-driven, helps clean our river on a yearly basis, and raises awareness and promotes education on environmental and social justice issues?
Well, his name is Samuel Mosonyi, and he's a political science student at the University of Guelph and an occasional newspaper columnist. In talking to the Guelph Mercury, Mosonyi says he was driven to start a campaign to de-fund OPIRG, cleverly called "Opt-Out-OPIRG-Guelph," because there are "a group of students who are tired of [OPIRG] spending their money on radical political causes they do not believe in.”
Uh-huh. What else?
He said it is not fair that over the course of their undergraduate studies, students pay over $50 for “an anarchist, undemocratic and unaccountable student organization.” He said many students, upon becoming “aware that their money is being used to fund radical political behaviour,” are outraged. But very few actually realize they are supporting OPIRG through their student fees, he indicated.
I would never argue that there aren't people involved in OPIRG who have anarchist leanings, but there are also a lot of other people with, shall we say, softer political views involved in the organization, some of them you meet on a Saturday morning in June while cleaning the Speed River, or at a large community demonstration for Aboriginal rights.
If any of these sounds familiar, you may remembering back a mere four years ago when a group of U of G campus Conservatives made a hullabaloo that their attempt to add some mellow conservatism to the wild OPIRG ways was gerrymandered by OPIRG insiders who, if you'll forgive the expression, didn't want their kind on OPIRG's board. The group included future Pierre Poutine suspect Michael Sona, and was cheerled by Andrew Prescott from his Christian Conservative blog. You know, the usual suspects. But despite a lot of sound and fury, the whole thing came to nothing, and everyone went back to their own corners, and, dare I say it, own bubbles.
But despite the been there-done that feeling of this latest round of OPIRG stole my lunch money, Mosonyi can be forgiven for retreading this sacred ground since he wasn't probably at U of G during the last swipe at OPIRG. But time knows no difference either. A total of 42 people out of a campus of 20,000 undergrads have joined Spartacus' protest to demand a refund of their student fees. All $6.31 for the semester. Hardly the overwhelming majority who silently belie OPIRG's transgressions on a yearly basis.
This kind of nitpicking is the basest form of ideological rebel-rousing. Laying aside that you can't get more than 10 per cent of the U of G campus to vote in the Central Student Association's annual elections and referenda for anything less than free money - hell, even free pizza - there were a lot of things that my tuition money went to that I had no hand in, or, if I had a choice or cared more than a little, would want to demand a refund for.
But ultimately, university is an equal opportunity collective: you get your Campus for Christ, or OPIRG, or Chess Club, for their CFRU, The Peak or Fantasy-Literature-Anime-Sci-Fi-Horror (FLASH) club. Maybe rather than trying to defund an organization that hundreds of his fellow Gryphons - past and present - have gotten so much out of, maybe Mosonyi could start his own OPIRG, a more conservative-minded Ontario Public Interest Research Group. He could call it CONPIRG. There might be a question if someone might want to volunteer for something called CONPIRG, but that's not for me to judge. I have enough to do with my time without trying to trip the boogeyman with red tape.