OPIRG Toronto
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Victoria Barnett

Action Groups

What role do action groups play at OPIRG? 

Action groups are one of the core parts of OPIRG and the most common way volunteers get involved. They are essentially a collective of volunteers who organize around a specific issue, campaign or initiative (they can include anywhere from 5-50+ people). Each action group gets a write up in Action Speaks Louder, OPIRG Toronto’s newsletter and staff connect interested volunteers with the action groups throughout the year. All OPIRG action groups are initiated by volunteers, and must be approved by the Board of Directors. Some examples of current and former action groups include: Students Against Sweatshops Initiative, Rising Tide Toronto, Justice for Campus Workers, Students Against Israeli Apartheid, Mining Injustice Solidarity Network, First Nations Solidarity Action Group and Toronto Queer Zine Fair.


Our Action Groups

Our action groups are organized autonomously around various issues of social justice and environmental action. All action groups are allocated an appropriate budget (for projects/events they wish to pursue throughout the year) in September and have access to the following:

  • A library through the Dr. Chun Resource Library that OPIRG shares with the Centre for Women and Trans People
  • Office resources (phone, fax machine, printer, button maker)
  • Printing
  • Computers with internet access
  • Photocopying of outreach materials
  • Access to room bookings at the University of Toronto, in barrier free spaces, for all events and meetings
  • Support from OPIRG staff and board members for project support, visioning and outreach


Action Group Mandates

OPIRG-Toronto is committed to working on a wide range of issue from an anti-oppressive framework in order to work towards building safe and accessible spaces for people coming from various marginalized communities. This includes but is not limited to Indigenous people, trans* people, women, disabled people, people of colour, poor people, immigrants, refugees and those without status. Although our organization has a lot of work to do towards becoming more inclusive and proactively supportive of the struggles of all oppressed people, we believe that encouraging new action groups to research, educate, and take action on these issues is a step in the right direction.

OPIRG-Toronto Policy on Action Groups

1. Action Group Composition

1.1 An action group should contain at least 5 OPIRG­Toronto members
1.2 One group representative will act as liaison with the OPIRG office and Board of Directors.
1.3 Within three months, at least one member must previously have or receive training in consensus decision­making and/or group facilitation.


2. Formation

2.1 The Board of Directors must approve the establishment of each action group, based on the following criteria:
2.1.1 Relation to OPIRG’s mandate;
2.1.2 Feasibility for OPIRG or for organizers;
2.1.3 Commitment, interest and relevance to campus community.
2.2 In order to establish an action group, the following steps should be taken:
2.2.1 With assistance from OPIRG staff, organize a visioning session with interested individuals to define a mandate and preliminary action plan for the group; 2.2.2 Research existing initiatives and resources;
2.2.3 Submit a short written proposal to OPIRG Board including: Group’s mandate, preliminary action plan and timeline; Statement of commitment to OPIRG­Toronto’s mandate and methods; Plan for involving new members (OPIRG volunteers) and working within OPIRG’s structures Budget and/or financial support required from OPIRG­Toronto


3. Rights

3.1 All members of OPIRG action groups enjoy the rights and responsibilities outlined in the volunteer policy
3.2 Action groups will have access to:
3.2.1 OPIRG’s office resources;
3.2.2 Support from the Board of Directors;
3.2.3 OPIRG’s communication tools, including the OPIRG website, newsletter and social media.
3.3 All action groups have the right to administer a budget of an amount to be determined by the Board of Directors each year or upon group’s formation


4. Responsibilities

4.1 Adhere to all OPIRG­Toronto policies and procedures
4.2 Follow steps and guidelines set out in Action for Change guide
4.3 Send members to training sessions on anti­oppression and group facilitation
4.4 Complete and prompt financial reporting. Receipts must be provided for any and all expenses
4.5 Ensure that all printed material be approved by OPIRG­Toronto staff or Board of Directors prior to printing and distribution
4.6 Promote OPIRG, its goals and activities whenever possible


5. Membership and Publicity

5.1 Include outreach to new members as part of group activities, including: 5.1.1 Contacting all interested volunteers
5.1.2 Staffing information tables and orientation events
5.1.3 Producing posters or pamphlets
5.2 Commit to tabling at least once per semester in a central campus location
5.3 Utilize or participate in OPIRG communications
5.4 Suggest at least one related event or activity that could take place at a suburban campus


6. Communication with OPIRG

6.1 Maintain and update a binder in the OPIRG office thart includes: 6.1.1 Contact lists;
6.1.2 Minutes of Meetings;
6.1.3 Other information about the issues, publicity and materials produced by the group
6.2 Post notice of all meetings and events in designated area of office
6.3 Submit descriptions of group and its activities upon request for promotional materials
6.4 Submit a short report of activities and accomplishments for annual reports for the Annual General Meeting
6.5 Participate in OPIRG general activities, meetings and evaluation efforts when requested


7. Role of Coordinator(s) and Liaison(s)

7.1 Maintain familiarity with Action for Change Guide and suggested methods for organizing
7.2 Monitor the group process to ensure full participation and inclusion of all members
7.3 Inform group members of upcoming OPIRG events and volunteer opportunities
7.4 Provide the Board of Directors with regular action group updates
7.5 Ensure all necessary information is passed on to OPIRG office and/or staff
7.6 Request support from staff or Board whenever problems or conflicts arise within the group