OPIRG: Writing in the public good

Let`s face it. Our classes are depressing.

Every day we crowd into yet another lecture hall to hear yet another professor describe something that is wrong with the world.

Climate Change. Economic Inequality. Sexual Violence. War. Hunger. Colonialism. And then we go home.

We go home, depressed and despondent, but we need to put it aside because there are books to be read and essays to be written.

A paper about Mesopotamia takes precedence over discussing why Canadian troops were sent to Iraq this month. The derivatives that were behind the 2008 financial collapse won’t make any more sense if you skip your algebra practice.

It’s even more depressing to think that we know about all these issues but can’t actually do anything about them.

But maybe we can.

There is an old adage that says knowledge is power. It doesn’t always seem true, but there is no reason why it shouldn’t be.

Knowledge about injustice can give us the rage we need to take on the problems of the world. Knowledge of facts can give us the confidence to talk about complex issues with others. Knowledge of seemingly unimportant things can give us the background needed to make sense of other, more pressing issues.

All of this gives us the power to change the world. And that is what this column is about.Twice a month, members of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group, otherwise known as OPIRG, will be writing a column for Arthur.

OPIRG is a student- and community-based organization with a mandate to do research, education, and action on social justice and environmental issues.

OPIRG works on a wide variety of issues, from running the fourth largest food bank in Peterborough to supporting smaller working groups that focus on issues like animal rights or human rights. Our column will cover it all.

We’ll dig into issues of public interest. We may explore, for example, how companies like Tim Hortons and Toys’R’Us are lobbying to keep the minimum wage below poverty levels. We might look at how 75% of the world’s mining companies base themselves in Canada so as to be exempt from human rights regulations. Or possibly we’ll investigate whether Trent has investments in the Tar Sands or in Israeli military companies, as other schools do.

This column will coincide with the regular programming that we do throughout the year. We regularly hold workshops, film screenings, and other events, and we always welcome everyone to attend.

If you see an issue discussed in this column and want to find out more about it, there will probably be an event of some sort on the same topic. You can also get in touch with us to see how you can work on that issue.

If you want to find out more about OPIRG, please visit our website at opirgpeterborough.ca, stop by our table at Clubs and Groups day, or just pick up a copy of Arthur each week and turn to this page.

Our classes might be depressing, but we can do something about it.