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NSPIRG funding in the crosshairs at Dalhousie

A group of Dalhousie University students is trying to strip an activist organization of its funding.

A group of Dalhousie University students is trying to strip an activist organization of its funding.

Students automatically pay $4 per year on top of their tuition to the Nova Scotia Public Interest Research Group, unless they opt out.

It’s been this way for 20 years, but a group called Stop NSPIRG is trying to take the funding away, and the feud has taken on distinctly political undertones.

The protesting group says NSPIRG is too left-wing to represent all students, while some in NSPIRG say the other group is part of a right-wing smear campaign.

The two sides met yesterday at an NSPIRG press conference.

Speakers ranged from students to Halifax NDP MP Megan Leslie, all defending NSPIRG’s value to the community. Prof. John Cameron presented a letter co-signed by 24 faculty members who had taken the unusual step of wading into student politics.

“NSPIRG is far more than a student organization,” read the letter.

“It’s played an important role in conducting and disseminating research on issues related to environmental and social justice.”

Stop NSPIRG members were in the audience but not allowed to ask questions. Moderators said there would be no question period because it was an information session and they didn’t want to build tensions.

Stop NSPIRG member Paige MacPherson said their position was misrepresented. She said they don’t want to shut down NSPIRG, just have them apply for funding from the student union like most societies.

“We’re trying to hold them accountable for their use of funding. This is about money, really,” MacPherson said. “We recognize that NSPIRG does a lot of great things. They also do a lot of things we don’t consider to be great. They don’t represent all the views of every Dal student.”