Who we are
OPIRG stands for Ontario Public Interest Research Group. The PIRG movement originated with the consumer activist Ralph Nader during the early seventies, as he encouraged students on university campuses in the United States and Canada to create campus-based organizations that could facilitate the teaching and use of activist skills by students. In 1973, the first Ontario PIRG was established and today there are about a dozen PIRGs at universities across Ontario and several across the country.
OPIRG Peterborough is an autonomous member of Ontario PIRG, a provincial network of about a dozen PIRGs. OPIRG Peterborough was established in 1976 and in August of 2005 became incorporated under the province of Ontario.
For more than three decades, the Peterborough Chapter of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) has been pursuing social justice and environmental activism on the Trent campus and the Peterborough community. During this long history, OPIRG has worked on a wide range of issues and has seen its alumni go on to contribute to other social justice and environmental movements after they leave Trent. Today, OPIRG continues to be a dynamic organization where many Trent students learn the skills and knowledge they need to be active citizens.
OPIRG-Peterborough is a campus-based, community oriented non-profit organization that receives its core funding from a refundable levy that is paid by all full-time Trent undergraduate students. It was founded in 1976 by a campus-wide referendum. That year, it was called PeterPIRG and it was founded by a five dollar levy. In 1986, the levy was brought up from $5 to $7 and again in 1991 from $7 to $9. Since then, OPIRG Peterborough’s levy collects $13.36 from full-time Trent undgergraduate students.
OPIRG Peterborough: Mission Statement
OPIRG works to create and sustain student and community-based engagement through research, education and action on social justice and environmental issues; challenging oppression in all its forms; and using consensus-based decision-making in a non-hierarchical and accessible setting.
What we do
Each year, OPIRG provides a space and resources for Peterborough and Trent community members to work on programs, awareness-raising campaigns, workshops and other activities focusing on social justice issues; to encourage a critical approach to the institutions and systems students are learning about in classes; to facilitate skill building that will enable students to use their academic knowledge for social change. OPIRG carries out this mission through our work as a student-funded, non-profit organization dedicated to research, education and action on a variety of issues including environmentalism, human rights, gender rights, peace, sustainability, diversity rights and social equity, among others. OPIRG volunteers and staff members organize speakers, films, conferences, publications and campaigns on a wide variety of topics that fit within our mandate.
A volunteer board of directors works with one full-time staff person and several part time student staff people to administer the office and resource library, develop programming, allocate resources, and network with other campus and community organizations. The OPIRG board uses a consensus decision-making process and meets fortnightly during the school year. Board members are elected annually and usually serve a two-year term.