Dear OPIRG-Carleton Members and Friends,

Once again the Carleton University Student’s Association (CUSA) is improperly withholding OPIRG-Carleton’s levy funds.

For over 30 years OPIRG has been a vital part of the Carleton community, creating space for student-led social and environmental justice on and off campus. During this time we have had smooth and cordial relations with CUSA, the body that administers referenda and student levies, including OPIRG’s democratically-mandated levy.

Last fall, CUSA took the extraordinary step of demanding copies of OPIRG’s lease and financial statements before distributing the student mandated levy. This was contrary to the established fee agreement between OPIRG and CUSA, which requires the delivery of levy funds to OPIRG within 10 days of receipt by CUSA without reservation or condition. Last December, OPIRG-Carleton was eventually provided with its 2012-2013 levy cheque, but only after OPIRG was constrained to retain legal counsel.

Following that, a referendum was initiated by then-Vice President-Finance of CUSA to remove OPIRG’s student levy. We are gratified in knowing that in this referendum, 71 per cent of Carleton voters chose to maintain OPIRG’s levy and to ensure that it remains a voice for social and environmental justice on campus.

At this time, we regret to inform Carleton students that their voices have gone unheard, and CUSA is yet again arbitrarily withholding funds that students voted to dedicate to OPIRG’s programs. Like last year, CUSA is attempting to illegitimately assert political authority over OPIRG by imposing demands to approve finances before conforming to its legal duty to disperse student levies.

OPIRG is committed to ensuring that all members have access to its most current financial information, whether on our website or in our office. For this reason among others, CUSA’s attempt to subject OPIRG-Carleton, an independent non-profit organization, to its political or administrative control constitutes a threat to OPIRG and to the democratic process here at Carleton. OPIRG will not be bullied.

As one of the bodies responsible for distribution of student levies, CUSA has a legal responsibility as per its longstanding fee agreement with OPIRG to dispense students’ membership fees to OPIRG within ten days of receiving the levy cheques from the university. Like other levy groups such as The Charlatan and CKCU, OPIRG is wholly independent from CUSA and is not obligated to submit to arbitrary demands or oversight by other non-profit entities.

OPIRG is committed to ensuring that students’ funds are spent in an accountable manner. Consequently, and beyond regular business standards, we have our accounts audited yearly. OPIRG’s 2012-2013 financial statements have been reviewed according to proper procedure, and will be made public once they are approved by our auditor.

As always, OPIRG values the support of its members and friends. We thank you for your steadfast support during these difficult times and we will make sure to keep our members up to date on all developments.

The OPIRG-Carleton Board of Directors (2013-2014)