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.

Your Thoughts

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!