Editor, the Gauntlet,
Re: "PIRG on the prowl," and "PIRG set for referendum," Jan. 31, 2002.
CPIRG would like to thank the Gauntlet for taking the time and space for communication. We would like to clarify some key points.
There are 18 PIRGs in Canada at some very prestigious universities, including McGill, Waterloo and Simon Fraser. We are called CPIRG to distinguish ourselves.
The $2 per full-time student levy was chosen to result in a budget for CPIRG equivalent to other effectively running PIRGs in Canada. The average level of support was $1.48 in last year's plebiscite. When compared with the range of support in other Canadian PIRGs, it was on the very low end. Furthermore, this levy is not required. Any student can opt-out of this fee.
CPIRG does have a sample budget and it is open for viewing. Students should be concerned about their money. The Students' Union Vice-President Operations and Finance is required to be a board member of CPIRG. This is one mechanism to ensure accountability to the students. All students are free to attend CPIRG meetings and discuss the group's direction and use of funds.
We would like to clarify that CPIRG promotes the use of all legal forms of participation in our democratic society. CPIRG does not
support any illegal activity. CPIRG addresses environmental and social justice concerns through a variety of avenues. As far as "global showdowns," CPIRG will undertake research and action based on students' interests and concerns. CPIRG would be funded by students and therefore run by students.
Consensus is a collaborative decision-making process that promotes the equal inclusion of all voices. This model creates a sustainable decision, because everyone's concerns have been addressed respectfully. Consensus is not "inanely slow." In fact, it is often faster than Robert's Rules.
CPIRG would like to clarify that we are dealing with systemic oppression not "systematic." Systemic oppression means those oppressions that pervade all sections of our society and affect all individuals. This is why organizations like the Gauntlet have to include a non-discrimination clause for things like sexism and racism.
As an organization whose members encompass a myriad of personal and group identities, CPIRG advocates inclusiveness through diversity.
In celebrating this diversity CPIRG will use student money, through the consensus process, to establish a library, resource centre, informational speakers and workshops, special events, as well as funding student research initiatives. This would enrich the educational experience of this university, make a positive contribution to the community and provide an application to the theoretical knowledge we gain here at university.
The process of establishing CPIRG has involved thousands of volunteer hours and about 400 man hours in SLC debate. It would seem common sense at this point to get students involved and let them vote.
CPIRG can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Anyone is welcome to attend our meetings in SS311, alternating Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 5:00 p.m. The next meeting will be Thursday, February 14.