LSPIRG must reflect values of all students

Friday was the last day to opt out of the $5.11 per term fee for the Laurier Students’ Public Interest Research Group (LSPIRG) though an online form. Like all fees at Laurier it is important for students to be aware of what their money is being spent on and that it’s used to positively enhance the university experience for all students.

When judged by the measure of accessibility to all students it’s hard to see how LSPIRG levy is justifiable. Allegations by groups on campus such as the Campus Conservatives are that LSPIRG spends student money to serve an ideological agenda. Scanning the list of recognized groups by the organization that receive funding seem to indicate that this is clearly the case.

While LSPIRG maintains it is “non-partisan” and because of that it “doesn’t take sides”, they are clearly twisting the truth. While they may be non-partisan in that they don’t support a political party that does not mean they are not ideological.

This is clearly shown by LSPIRG’s stance that all groups have access to LSPIRG funding if they convince the Board of Directors that they will spend the money on “social change”: a vague phrase which has ideologically left-wing connotations. Student money should not be spent in such a vast amount to serve the agenda of one ideology, whether it is right-wing or left-wing. The money is coming from all students.

It is also very concerning how very little is known about how LSPIRG spends the money they receive from students. The university administration admitted to not tracking expenditures of the organization. They simply remit the money, consistent with the terms of the contract. Furthermore, there is no easily accessible publication of LSPIRG’s finances for students to see. This lack of accountability and transparency should disturb students, who collectively are out approximately $150,000 to fund them.

Students should be concerned about how their money is spent by LSPIRG. They should ask hard questions and if necessary call for a referendum.