Membership Advisory: OPIRG STILL Facing Eviction

Short Summary: The threat is real and time is ticking but there is some indication that OPIRG may be able to keep room 326 UC. We need to keep steadfast in our efforts to #SaveOPIRG!
 
Action Items (more details below): 

 Friday July 17th 2015 - It’s been one week since OPIRG launched its campaign for public support in the face of an impending eviction from room 326 Unicentre. OPIRG-Carleton remains committed to finding a solution that will ensure it maintains an office of similar size and centrality in the Unicentre and is optimistic that the CUSA executives will work with OPIRG to do so. Yet OPIRG-Carleton also recognizes the clock is ticking for the organization, as the July 31st eviction notice still stands.

As you may recall,  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. The CUSA executive originally rejected OPIRG’s July 8th proposal to renew OPIRG’s lease and initiate discussions to reach a mutually beneficial outcome but have since indicated that OPIRG remaining in its space may be possible.  
 
Recent years aside, OPIRG and CUSA have worked collaboratively for decades and the cooperation between the organizations has been to the benefit of students.  OPIRG-Carleton is hopeful that President Alhattab and the executive team at CUSA will follow through with their promise to renew good relations with OPIRG and support the call of the students and community to #SaveOPIRG!
 
In the spirit of collaboration and open discussion towards finding a solution that works for all organizations and groups involved in providing services to students, OPIRG is inviting the staff and executive of Carleton’s student unions, service centre coordinators, and National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) staff for a discussion about space needs and allocation.
 
OPIRG Timeline: 35 Years in the University Centre (UC)

  • 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. 
  • July 9 2015, OPIRG releases a membership advisory regarding the pending eviction and solicits support.
  • July 14 2015, OPIRG’s board of directors sends a letter to the CUSA executives encouraging the executive to reconsider its July 8th proposal and indicates it will continue to discuss logistical issues regarding room 127B. The CUSA President and VP Finance Craig Handy come to the OPIRG office, within two hours of the letter being sent, and present a space configuration that would see OPIRG remain in room 326 UC provided OPIRG agrees to a joint media statement and a new lease that may include increased rent. A few hours after the meeting OPIRG receives an email from President Alhattab stating “(...) the proposed plans are not final, and are still subject to variables, due to the several moving pieces. Once plans are final, you will have it in writing of what will be going forward.”
  • July 15th 2015, OPIRG’s board of directors sends CUSA a letter outlining the option presented by President Alhattab and VP Finance Handy and asks for confirmation that the termination letter has been rescinded and for a timeline of when the draft lease renewal and draft press release will be sent to OPIRG.  No response is provided but at a general meeting held the evening of July 15th, President Alhattab clarifies is he not promising anything and that the July 31st eviction deadline remains. He also explains that the potential space shuffle that may occur would see the Food Centre remain in what was the Spot, Henry’s expand to sell CUSA merchandise, the Communications office open in what was the Food Centre (426i) and NEADS move to 127B UC, opening up the back office behind Clubs and Societies to allow the front space to be a co-working space. 

OPIRG Board of Directors’ Recommendations for Moving Forward 
OPIRG continues to strive for an outcome that will allow the organization to maintain its track record of excellent service on campus and in the community. Your support is greatly appreciated. 
 
Please consider taking action in the following ways: 

  • Write your CUSA councillors and executives to: Commend the executive in their attempt to find a solution that enables OPIRG to remain in its current space and Insist CUSA extend the eviction deadline by rescinding the letter of termination so that OPIRG and CUSA can work toward renewing OPIRG’s lease or toward finding comparable space in the Unicentre. 
  • Sign the petition and encourage others to do the same.
  • Join us on Thursday, July 23 (11:30am-2:30pm) in the space between the Unicentre and Architecture Building for a free bbq (food starts @ noon while supplies last) and celebration to #SaveOPIRG!
  • Attend the CUSA council meeting on Monday July  20th, 6pm in Room 608, Robertson Hall to show your support for CUSA councillors who support student space and transparent decision-making
  • Send us an email (opirg@carleton.ca) with a picture of yourself and why you want to #SaveOPIRG to use in our social media campaign.
  • Get involved with OPIRG’s campaign, including class talks, leafletting, tabling, general outreach.

For updates:

Posted on July 17, 2015 .