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Senate bill discriminates, GLBT Aggies say

Published: Friday, March 22, 2013

Updated: Friday, March 22, 2013 00:03

GLBT

David Cohen

Sophomore political science major Chris Woolsey says religiously objecting students would rather stand for principles than be forced to support GLBT Resource Center.

GLBT Aggies vice president Maria Miguel said a Student Senate bill that would potentially threaten GLBT Resource Center funding is a form of discrimination.

The GLBT Funding Opt-Out Bill, introduced at the Wednesday Student Senate meeting, would recommend students who do not approve of the GLBT Resource Center on religious or moral grounds be able to opt out of a portion of student fees that goes toward the resource center.

Miguel, senior women’s and gender studies major, said the bill is no more than an ongoing and poorly veiled form of discrimination.

“It’s a good way of masking prejudice and discrimination against the [GLBT] community,” Miguel said. “It’s making the people who are very against the [GLBT] community sound really nice by using religion as a cover-up.”

Northside senator Chris Woolsey, author of the bill, said the bill does not oppress the GLBT community.

“The belief that this bill is oppressing the GLBT community or is a way to legalize discrimination is a ploy to distract from the real meaning of the bill, which is to protect the religious liberties of students,” Woolsey said.

Woolsey said in his Wednesday presentation that the issue is more a matter of religious principle than a financial issue. Woolsey estimated $100,000 is allocated to the resource center, or about $2 per student.

“I would argue that even if it took 43 cents off my tuition statement, if I were the a religiously objecting student, then I would rather stand for my principles, stand for what I believe, then have to be forced to pay,” Woolsey said. “I think there are many students who would like to follow that same line of thinking.”

Woolsey said the absence of a University-funded counterpart to the GLBT Resource Center should exempt students from being forced to help fund it.

“There is not a traditional family values center that will promote the opposite of what the GLBT promotes,” Woolsey said. “Since we are funding one of those and not the other one, I believe that student’s should be able to choose whether to pay for it or not.”

Off campus senator Robbie Cimmino said the bill could be a slippery slope. He proposed the hypothetical question of whether the bill could set a precedent and ultimately result in students with certain ideologies demanding to not pay fees toward an organization they don’t agree with.

Sidney Gardner, program coordinator for the Texas A&M GLBT Resource Center, said any legislation of this sort, local or national, could have a psychological effect greater than the actual application of the bill.

“Many people forget that for our students, this has a real emotional toll and an emotional impact,” Gardner said. “[GLBT legislation is] talking about the validity of someone’s identity.”

The GLBT Funding Opt-Out Bill will be reviewed in committee before it is brought forward for debate and voting.

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3 comments Log in to Comment

rowell42
Wed Apr 10 2013 12:58
txag12, I will agree that there are some expenses that are appropriate to be payed out of student fees, and you named a couple of them with the rec center and the bus service. The difference is that these are facilities and infrastructure in support of the university as a whole. However, these organization are really nothing more that university sanctioned segregated fraternal organizations, and while I readily encourage student involvement with groups like these, I believe they should be treated just like any other social organization and therefore should not receive preferential treatment from the university.
txag12
Fri Mar 29 2013 12:41
"Why should funds from any student's mandatory fees, collected by a university, go to any organization that is based on gender, race, nationality, religion, or any other personal attribute other than intellect." - rowell42 Then why did I have to pay for the Rec? I never went there to work out in my 4 years at A&M. It doesn't affect my intellect. The same can be said about having to pay for bus service. Didn't use, didn't add to my knowledge. Just because you don't personally use something doesn't mean it shouldn't be funded. Would it be better if A&M just collected $3000 for "various purposes" that it distributed according to a set budget? That way you don't have to say that your money specifically went to fund something you don't like.
rowell42
Wed Mar 27 2013 11:12
Why should funds from any student's mandatory fees, collected by a university, go to any organization that is based on gender, race, nationality, religion, or any other personal attribute other than intellect. While the organizations themselves may be a good thing for the participants, the expenses should be covered entirely by the membership itself. If the fee money is no longer coerced from the student, they can apply it to the organizations they truly wish to support or participate. This also alleviates the ethical dilemma facing students who are morally against any of these organizations from being forced to support them in order to attend the university. There is also the added benefit to students of reducing their fee expenses if they are only there to get an education and share in the college experience with a diverse group of fellow students without feeling the need to be a part of a select segregated organization.

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