OPIRG McMaster - Public Interest Project Policy

OPIRG McMaster's objectives are to:

  1. Engage in charitable non-profit research and activities to advance the welfare of the University and general community;
  2. To execute, sponsor and publish educational studies and programs to advance the welfare of the University and general community;
  3. To facilitate and encourage students to develop their research and advocacy skills in order to become active and informed citizens;
  4. To make diverse viewpoints available to the University and general community.

As part of accomplishing these objectives, OPIRG McMaster will work with its members in the McMaster and Hamilton communities to facilitate the creation and operation of Public Interest Projects. Public Interest Projects are OPIRG-supported, student-run projects organized around anti-oppression principles and directed towards research and/or positive action on social justice and environmental issues in the public interest. Public Interest Projects allow students to tackle real and practical issues at the grassroots level. These projects may include various events but overall will aim for tangible and visible action, going a step further than raising awareness.

The types of Support available to groups may include, but is not limited to:

All OPIRG McMaster Public Interest Projects must be student led. Public Interest Projects may define their own organizational structure and are not required to operate like MSU Campus Clubs. As a result, OPIRG McMaster Public Interest Projects are bound by their successfully approved Public Interest Project Application. The OPIRG McMaster Public Interest Project Application form is considered a part of this policy and shall be reviewed and the end of each budget year and revised and approved by the OPIRG McMaster Board of Directors if deemed appropriate by that body. The standard Application form is to be made available to potential applicants through the OPIRG McMaster Website and the OPIRG McMaster Office. Applicants are required to use the most recent iteration of the Public Interest Project Application Form, and this Application form shall list all application requirements; all information requested by the Public Interest Project Application form is considered mandatory for applicants wishing to be considered for Public Interest Project status.

While OPIRG Public Interest Projects are not required to have a formal leadership, each Public Interest Project must provide OPIRG McMaster with two reliable contact persons in leadership positions in their Public Interest Project. Both of these contacts must be full-time undergraduate McMaster University students. These two contact persons commit themselves to attending mandatory OPIRG McMaster Orientation as well as Workshops on Consensus Decision Making and Anti-Oppression (hosted by either the McMaster Equity and Inclusion Office or OPIRG McMaster) and/or any other sessions deemed mandatory by OPIRG McMaster. Failure to attend the mandatory training is a violation of this policy and may result in defunding.

All Public Interest Project Applications will be reviewed by OPIRG McMaster and approved or rejected by its Board of Directors. All Applications will be reviewed against OPIRG McMaster's objectives and all Public Interest Project concepts must adequately meet all of the following criteria:

All successfully approved Public Interest Projects are granted access to Support until the end of each Budget Year, and Public Interest Projects are required to submit an Annual Report to be submitted to OPIRG McMaster at the end of that year which will be used (in part) to complete an annual Evaluation conducted by OPIRG McMaster. Completion and submission of Annual Reports are the responsibility of a Public Interest Project's contact persons, and may be submitted in various formats, but must include the following, without exception:

Annual Reports may be returned to Public Interest Project contact persons for revision should the Reports be considered by OPIRG McMaster to be incomplete. Failure to submit an Annual Report will be noted and be considered in any future Applications or re- Applications made by the Public Interest Project or its contact persons.

Previously approved Public Interest Projects are required to re-Apply for Public Interest Project status at least once each Budget Year, and their submitted Annual Reports and annual Evaluations of research and activities will be considered in the approval or rejection of these re-application requests. A Public Interest Project Evaluation Form is considered part of this policy, and shall be used by OPIRG McMaster to produce an annual record of each Public Interest Project's activities, and track their progress in relation to their approved Application. The standard Public Interest Project Evaluation Form shall be available to OPIRG McMaster members upon request, and reviewed at the end of each budget year and revised and approved by the OPIRG McMaster Board of Directors if deemed appropriate by that body. Public Interest Project contact persons are entitled to request and review their Public Interest Projects completed Evaluations.

Support for Public Interest Projects may be suspended or revoked at any time through a decision by the OPIRG McMaster Board of Directors if there is the reasonable belief the actions or decisions of a Public Interest Project threaten the credibility, reputation, working- relations, or other interests of OPIRG McMaster, its Public Interest Projects and/or community partners. Should Support be revoked, the McMaster Board of Directors shall provide immediate notice of suspension, and also shall provide a written reason for their decision to suspend within two weeks of the decision.

Public Interest Projects are encouraged to fundraise to support Group activities and/or research, but the majority of the Group's work and resources must be directed towards its mandate. OPIRG Support must only be directed towards Project activities and/or research, and are not to be re-directed towards other groups or individuals, inside or outside the University. Because the strength of OPIRG McMaster lies in its volunteers, Public Interest Projects are encouraged to actively recruit new members and promote other Public Interest Projects and OPIRG projects. Public Interest Project members are also encouraged participate in OPIRG McMaster events and training and to become further involved further with organization through its other Public Interest Projects, or the Board of Directors.

Approved by the OPIRG McMaster Board of Directors, 2009 and updated October 2018.