Membership Advisory: OPIRG-Carleton Facing July 31st Eviction

After 27 years of tenancy, Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA) President Fahd Alhattab served an eviction notice to OPIRG requiring the organization to vacate room 326 of the Unicentre before July 31st 2015. OPIRG has been sub-leasing room 326 from CUSA since 1988. OPIRG was first made aware of CUSA’s intentions to potentially relocate OPIRG at a meeting on June 15th. The lack of adequate notice and consultation contradicts decades of cooperation between CUSA and OPIRG on student space in the University Centre. For example, OPIRG’s previous moves (1983, 1988) were preceded by extensive dialogue between CUSA, OPIRG, and affected groups. This eviction risks to interrupt OPIRG’s long-standing service to the students of Carleton.

OPIRG's Legacy
For over 35 years, OPIRG-Carleton has served Carleton and the community as a student-led and student-funded not-for-profit organization that promotes social and environmental justice through research, action and education. OPIRG-Carleton has contributed to the divestment from Apartheid South Africa and the Burma dictatorship, bringing recycling to campus, developing a naturalization site on campus, working with CUSA and other campus groups to secure student space, and supporting a multitude of working groups and projects in coordination with various service centres. From sustainable building to understanding colonization and working toward equality-based relationships between individuals and groups, OPIRG-Carleton volunteers have made lasting impacts on Carleton and the community at large.

OPIRG Timeline: 35 Years in the Unicentre

  • 1979, OPIRG was established as a CUSA Club
  • 1981, 80% of voting students institute OPIRG as a levy-funded independent campus group and OPIRG begins renting space from CUSA in the UC
  • 1983, UC stakeholders and OPIRG collaborate and arrange new campus space for OPIRG
  • 1988, OPIRG and CUSA negotiate to establish OPIRG’s move to 326 UC where OPIRG has operated for the past 27 years
  • 2013, 70% of voting students assert support for OPIRG’s presence on campus
  • June 15 2015, CUSA executives indicate they plan to evict OPIRG from 326 UC and propose room 127B UC as an alternative space. 127B UC is 73% smaller than OPIRG’s current 552 square foot office. An eviction notice dated June 29th 2015 indicates OPIRG has until July 31st 2015 to vacate.
  • July 8 2015, OPIRG’s proposal to CUSA to extend OPIRG’s lease to room 326 UC while continuing conversations about how to reallocate Unicentre space is rejected by CUSA executives. 

OPIRG Board of Directors' Recommendations for Moving Forward
OPIRG has a long-standing history on campus serving Carleton students and the community at large. In our current challenge of eviction, we are striving toward an outcome that will allow the organization to continue its track record of excellent service. Here are a few options we see as consistent with our capacity to continue to serve the students and community of Carleton:

  • Insist CUSA extend the eviction deadline by renewing OPIRG’s lease to allow adequate time to work toward a mutually beneficial outcome. 
  • Find comparable space on campus in terms of size and centrality where OPIRG can continue to serve students. 
  • For updates:
    1. Join our listserv: http://www.opirgcarleton.org/opirgnewsletter/
    2. Join our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OPIRGCarleton
    3. Follow us on Twitter: @OPIRGCarleton
    4. Website: http://www.opirgcarleton.org/    
  • Join us on Wed., July 15th @ 6pm for a general meeting in the OPIRG office (326 UC)
  • Sign the petition
  • Email the CUSA executives and council telling them OPIRG deserves more time! Please cc: opirgcarleton.board@gmail.com & opirg@carleton.ca. You can find a template of an email below (please edit as appropriate) Letters from community members, professors, university staff and other organizations are much appreciated!: 

To: Fahd Alhattab <pres@cusaonline.ca>  

CC: Craig Handy <vpf@cusaonline.ca>, Maddie Adams <vpsi@cusaonline.ca>, Frena Hailekiros <vpss@cusaonline.ca>, Sofia Dala <vpi@cusaonline.ca>, Sean Smith <vpsl@cusaonline.ca>, Rod Castro <rodcastro@cusaonline.com>, OPIRG-Carleton <opirgcarleton.board@gmail.com>, <opirg@carleton.ca>, Binayak Kanungo <bini.kanungo@carleton.ca>, Daniel Giacca <danielgiacca@cmail.carleton.ca>, Abram Fehr <abe.fehr@carleton.ca>, Erin Hemm <erinhemm@cmail.carleton.ca>, Jasmine Shaw <jasmineshaw@cmail.carleton.ca>, Lucas Brewster <lucasbrewster@cmail.carleton.ca>, Adam Carroll <adam.carroll@carleton.ca>, Alex Rochon <alexrochon@gmail.com>, Kendra Kading <kendrakading@cmail.carleton.ca>, Kevin Nguyen <kevinvnguyen@cmail.carleton.ca>, Obasa Baderinwa <badeobasa@cmail.carleton.ca>, Taryn Ashdown <tarynashdown@cmail.carleton.ca>, Sean Illman-White <seanillmanwhite@cmail.carleton.ca>, Matthew Pelletier <matthew.pelletier@carleton.ca>, Alexis Oundo <Alexis.oundo@carleton.ca>,  Brett Parnell <brett.parnell@carleton.ca>, Keith Burley <keithburley@cmail.carleton.ca>, Lauren Gravis <laurengravis@cmail.carleton.ca>, Liam Harrington <liam.harrington@carleton.ca>, Kate Little <kathrynlittle@cmail.carleton.ca>, Sebastian Srugo <sebastiansrugo@cmail.carleton.ca>, Will Lafrance <willlafrance@cmail.carleton.ca>
 
Subject: OPIRG-Carleton Eviction Notice
 
Dear President Fahd Alhattab, 
 
As a student at Carleton, active in several campus groups, I am disappointed to hear of OPIRG’s impending eviction. While I appreciate your desire to increase space for Clubs and Societies, your current plan to displace OPIRG-Carleton to an office with 73% less space unnecessarily disadvantages OPIRG, a student led group with over 35 years on campus. 
 
I urge you to extend OPIRG’s lease to facilitate more involved conversations with OPIRG as well as other student stakeholders. For an organization that has operated in its current space for 27 years, and within the Unicentre for over 35 years, allotting more time to ensure OPIRG is moved to a space of comparable size and centrality is more than reasonable. It is also in keeping with CUSA’s commitment to transparency and good governance. 
 
I look forward to hearing from you and your executive about plans to include OPIRG and student stakeholders in the decision making process regarding space in the Unicentre. Only good things can come from inviting OPIRG and more students to the planning table. 
 
Yours Truly, 
 
[NAME HERE]

 

Posted on July 9, 2015 .