LSPIRG pushes for engagement

LSPIRG held their annual general meeting last Thursday. (Photo by: Heather Davidson)
LSPIRG held their annual general meeting last Thursday. (Photo by: Heather Davidson)

After setting changes in motion following their annual general meeting (AGM) last year, the Laurier Students’ Public Interest Research Group (LSPIRG) has been working to improve the organization.

At the AGM this past Thursday, seven board directors for 2014-15 were chosen — leaving up to two spots open with applications ongoing. This is the first time in two years LSPIRG has met their quorum of seven for the board of directors.

“We had a good representation of undergraduates; WLUSU, WLUSP members were there, undergraduate working groups, members of the diversity and equity office,” said Samantha Estoesta, executive director of LSPIRG.

Lack of engagement has been an ongoing issue for LSPIRG, but updates from the past year have shown that LSPIRG is slowly finding their place on campus. In the last year, the organization has supported 17 groups, tripled the amount of sponsorship on student projects and the number of students who opted-out of the Public Interest Research Group fee has decreased significantly from 2,000 to 250 per term.

“So engagement is up, it’s just continuing on [that’s an issue] … I think it takes a long time to change an organization, but we’ve definitely made the proper steps to make sure that we’re in a good place for the next ten years,” said Estoesta.

She believes finding a place on campus and listening to students will only continue to increase engagement.

“I think also that we’ve made significant efforts to make sure that we’re not an island,” she continued. “So it’s very easy to be bubbled and that’s not an effective way to run an organization … [We make sure] we’re constantly being involved in the community as much as we can because at the end of the day, all of our members are Golden Hawks.”

Some of the changes LSPIRG has made over the summer include changing their hiring structure, updating policies and bylaws, updating their government to abide by human resource policies and improving corporate partnership.

As for the future and the direction of the group, LSPIRG will be working with Laurier’s Centre for Community Research Learning and Action (CCRLA) to perform a community-based research study. This will include 15 undergraduate students and is scheduled to be launched in August.

“The university has helped by saying that they are in support of undergraduate research and it’s a good way to focus on something that often gets overlooked. Often we are something that gets ignored. We’ve made strides on campus to make sure that we do different programming. Not a lot of groups do undergraduate research based on social justice,” said Estoesta.

She added that she hopes the 15 students involved in the research study will grow in years to come.

“I just have high hopes for this organization,” she said.

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