ASUO Con. Court approves decision to cut funding for student advocacy group OSPIRG

OSPIRG Pro Staff Arianna Koudounas talks to University junior Ellen Robinette about signing a pledge against plastic bags on. OSPIRG brought a giant inflatable turtle to campus in Feb. 2012 to bring awareness to the issue of using plastic bags. On Feb. 8, 2013, ASUO Constitution Court upheld a decision to defund OSPIRG. (Michael Ciaglo/Oregon Daily Emerald)

OSPIRG Pro Staff Arianna Koudounas talks to University junior Ellen Robinette about signing a pledge against plastic bags on. OSPIRG brought a giant inflatable turtle to campus in Feb. 2012 to bring awareness to the issue of using plastic bags. On Feb. 8, 2013, ASUO Constitution Court upheld a decision to defund OSPIRG. (Michael Ciaglo/Oregon Daily Emerald)

Posted by Ian Campbell on Friday, Feb. 8 at 2:05 pm.

The ASUO Constitution Court ruled today that the Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group will no longer receive funding from student fees.

The decision indirectly approves that OSPIRG’s $151,000 budget will be defunded for the next fiscal year.

During the early hours of Feb. 5, the Athletics and Contracts Finance Committee voted 4-1-0 to defund the organization. The ACFC decision was contingent on the approval of Con. Court.

While the budget has passed through the finance committee, it will still have to go through the ASUO Senate, ASUO Executive and ultimately the University of Oregon president.

Con. Court was involved due to some confusion regarding whether the ACFC decision to defund OSPIRG needed to be unanimous.

Earlier today Associate Justice Caleb Huegel wrote an opinion stating that defunding line items only need a unanimous decision if the particular items do not comply with the ACFC bylaws.

“If a line item request has complied with ACFC bylaws, however, a unanimous vote may not be required in order to defund or exclude said line item request. In such instances, this Court defers to the ACFC’s interpretation of its own ambiguous bylaws,” the court clarified.

According to Sen. Ben Rudin, OSPIRG has until Feb. 18 to appeal the ACFC budget decision.

  • guest

    ‘ACFC cuts funding for OSPIRG’ would probably be a better headline. Senate and the president still need to approve the decision, and I seem to remember the exec saying they wouldn’t approve a budget that didn’t find some funding for it under PFC.

    • Brudin

      Yeah, it was if OSPIRG is not in PFC, if OSPIRG wants to be. They have since said they don’t want to be, so no funding it is

  • Jimbo

    Can we please have an article about how shitty the new ASUO website is? You can’t find anything on there. Plus, all of the old Con Court decisions dating back to 2006 are now gone.

    • ASUO Comm

      Hey @4f92277897e0f0b91da4237d91de43ba:disqus

      We are currently working to find some of the old decisions in our archives. But many of the documents on the website can be removed after 3-4 years to reduce the clutter.

      Either way, I’d love some feedback on the website and ways to improve it. If you’d like to let me know feel free to email me at


    • ASUO Comm

      Hey @4f92277897e0f0b91da4237d91de43ba:disqus,

      We are still in the process of moving over some archived files from the old website. However, many of the documents are only needed for 3 or 4 years before beginning to clutter the site.

      That being said, if you have any ideas on ways to fix the website and make it more accessible, please let me know! Email me at


  • Matt

    My question is this: Where’s the money going if not here?

    • Brudin

      Given the fungibility of money, it is hard to pick one answer. You could pick out any 150k and say it is going there instead. One thing we are funding this year that we did not fund last year is the Student Activities Center. But you could pick anything

  • SlappyJacks

    The court didn’t even mention OSPIRG in the opinion. It was purely situational. It sounds to me like the rule is just a bad one to allow for complete defunding so easily. And what about the Clark Document? They said they can’t interpret it, but it has to still have some weight. If it doesn’t, then we shouldn’t even have an ASUO.

    • Brudin

      I see no reason the defunding of ANYTHING should require a supermajority vote. If a majority of the finance committee, the Senate and/or the President do not approve funds for something, it should not get funded.

      As for Clark Document, the provision you are talking about does not apply to OSPIRG. It says groups that have been funded four consecutive years need a unanimous vote to cut over 25%. OSPIRG has only been funded two

      • SlappyJacks

        The rule gives more protection to groups that don’t abide by ACFC requirements. The unanimous vote applies when they don’t follow the rules? Seems fishy to me.

        • Brudin

          On that front I agree with you completely. The solution however is to remove the unanimous requirement next year, not to expand it by judicial fiat

  • alumni

    free at last free at last thank god almighty OSPIRG is finally gone from leaching student money.

    • You’re Wrong

      The ASUO spends ten times as much money on an athletics department which is continually putting the entire University in debt. Get your priorities straight. Two dollars to save the world isn’t hurting anyone.

      • Howdy!

        Let’s see…$2 x 24,591 students…roughly $50k isn’t chump change – an amount that can be put to better use.

        • You’re Wrong

          Like what? The ASUO does fund some important services, but most of their money is wasted in my opinion. At least OSPIRG gives the ASUO a huge return on their investment, like saving Oregonians $80,000,000/year on healthcare costs (Over six times the entire ASUO budget).

          • Brudin

            We can’t fund an advocacy organization based on benefiting from its campaign victories. That is flagrantly unconstitutional.

          • You’re Wrong

            You Senators can worry about that, I don’t really care. From a moral standpoint, it’s a huge victory for anyone who cares about human life, and it’s proof that OSPIRG is more effective than most of the crap the I-fee is spent on.

          • Brudin

            Then give money to OSPIRG yourself. You might not care about unconstitutional spending of other people’s money, but it’s a real issue

          • anon

            You’ve already said there is nothing unconstitutional about funding OSPIRG so stop stating claims you know to be false.

          • Brudin

            I said nothing is INHERENTLY unconstitutional about funding OSPIRG. Some of the reasons behind funding it are absolutely unconstitutional. The point of viewpoint neutrality is exactly that

          • EPT

            GAH. The Constitution doesn’t agree with you! Stop citing it!

          • alumni

            If you believe an organization is this important then fund them. Out of your own pocket and put in the work to educate the masses about how amazing this organization is and get them to donate. If OSPIRG is as amazing as you say then this should be very easy to convince the population to donate the price of a coffee cup to support it.

          • Evan P T

            Ben, the Supreme Court explicitly ruled that this situation does NOT violate the Constitution. There is nothing unconstitutional about funding OSPIRG. You’re welcome to disagree, but you can’t call it unconstitutional– that’s just incorrect.

          • Brudin

            Evan, you know full well that the Supreme Court ruled that IF such fees are distributed in a viewpoint neutral way, it is not unconstitutional. Funding OSPIRG is not inherently unconstitutional, I said that already. Unless you’re prepared to tell me that that funding OSPIRG is inherently constitutional, I invite you to pay attention to what I say and put words in my mouth. Funding OSPIRG because one wants to save the whales, end farm subsidies, solve global burning, lower health care costs, etc…is unconstitutional and you know that. Likewise, funding it because its viewpoint is popular (real or perceived) is also viewpoint discriminatory.

            I know you like to argue, just let down your barriers and read what I’m saying and you’ll see very little is controversial about it.

          • GoodRiddance

            BS. There is no way you can prove that they saved that money on their own. A couple OSPIRG lobbyists didnt accomplish that themselves. Stop claiming all the credit. OSPIRG deserves to be defunded and go blow up their stupid Giant Turtle at another campus.

          • You’re Wrong

            They actually did though. Name one other group which also worked on this issue and deserves a share of the credit.

      • alumni

        does not matter what they are doing. OSPIRG does great work. I just dont think paying lobbyist with mandatory taxes is right. OSPIRG should work like ASPIRG (arizona chapter) students have the option to opt into funding the PIRG. Kind of like a donation. how all other non-profits function. Weird i know right.

  • non-PIRGer

    *Former OSPIRG Pro Staff. She left Oregon last year.

  • Anon

    As a student who used to be an advocate for funding OSPIRG, I’m happy to see this happening. OSPIRG members and leadership claim to be a lot of things, but at their core they are people who, at one point had good intentions, but have since lost sight of what their organization is really about. In my opinion, they are a corrupt group at our university. Although, most of the organizations at this school are all about power, so that isn’t really saying much. It’s sad to see something with such potential fall into the wrong hands…