OPIRG McMaster has a Strategic Plan, with a key point dealing with how we support student action, currently via approved “Working Groups”
STRATEGIC PLAN (From Year One Plan):
Through resources and support we will be a resource centre/incubator that supports working groups and social change instigators to take action and build communities.
This means investing in the development of working groups, sharing a library of tools, being a hub for connections, and offering grants for grassroots action.
How We Will Make The Vision A Reality
Develop grant program that supports community led actions. (Redevelop applications for support process.)
Evaluate working group policies and develop a clear vision of why we have working groups, shared expectations, and how we support them.
Key characteristics of working groups are captured in our policy document:
A Working Group must meet the following criteria:
• Must be student led and meaningfully involve students in decision-making
• Must not be currently receiving operational funding or guidance from the McMaster Student Union (MSU), the University, or any other external group, association, or organization. Groups that represent a chapter or sub-grouping of any other existing internal or external association or organization are not eligible for Working Group status and may instead seek OPIRG assistance through OPIRG’s Application for Support
• Must be directed towards research and/or action in the public interest
• Must demonstrate a clear, issue-based focus and be reflective of OPIRG’s commitment to environmental and social justice through contributions to the local and/or global community
• Must be based on credible and defensible positions or research and be constructive in nature
• Must be respectful to all members of the McMaster, Hamilton, and global communities
A survey included in the application process in 2017-2018 captured the supports most were interested in:
Financial support is the top priority, followed by room booking for meetings and social media promotion.
Campus event room booking, use of the OPIRG Resource Centre, and access to OPIRG’s iMac with Adobe Suite and event or campaign advice in the next tier.
Least requested are (in descending order) Display Tables in MUSC, Button-Maker, and Data Projector.
Some Possible Changes
Projects would have to have a clear public interest focus with achievable goals, tackling a real problem in a transparent and open way, and create a final report of their work (plus video presentations to share online?).
The OPIRG Resource Centre would serve as a hub for organizing and project work, and be designed to support this goal.
General volunteers would directly support projects, increasing project capability.
Removing barriers to action by adopting Agile principles to help increase successful completion of projects.
Ensure the project has a clear public interest goal (not too general)
Make sure they have a strategy to achieve an impactful outcome
All staff takes a more integrated and direct role with working groups, so groups could operate with the added benefits of a team-based approach.
Do you have any ideas on how to create the most advantageous conditions to support student-led action on public interest issues? Please let us know in the comments!