What’s an OPIRG?
OPIRG (oh-purrg) is the Ontario Public Interest Research Group. We are a student funded and directed organization that serves to exist as a training ground for concerned citizens to recognize and engage the problems of society. OPIRG Kingston at Queen’s University is one of twelve PIRGS based out of universities around the province of Ontario. PIRGs also exist on campuses in Nova Scotia, Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan and BC.
What do PIRGs do?
PIRGs exist to provide training, support, and opportunities for students to be active citizens in their communities. We offer various kinds of support, including information, funding, administrative functions, and technological help. We facilitate opportunities for skill development through volunteer opportunities, educational events, public campaigns and partnerships with community organizations. Through involvement with PIRGs, thousands of Canadian students have learned skills in consensus decision-making, group facilitation, events organizing, media relations, and community-based research. These skills help individuals to act effectively in the public interest.
PIRGs are student-based, student-funded, student-run, student-directed and community-minded. They are democratic, independent, non-partisan, and non-profit to ensure that students are able to work on issues of importance to them without fear of censure. Each PIRG is run by their local board of directors so the specific of what each PIRG does differs from chapter to chapter.
At OPIRG Kingston, we seek to inspire research, education, and action on social and environmental justice issues. Our work includes providing grants to Queen’s students to conduct original research projects on issues that are relevant to the Kingston and Queen’s communities, and using that research to inform projects and campaigns that contribute to positive change. We also run programming and events throughout the year, which seek to educate about social and environmental justice, as well as celebrating difference and solidarity.