At many college campuses, student groups receive money from their schools by submitting a grant proposal and/or making a presentation to a committee of students and staff.
The University of South Florida’s Atheist Student Alliance requested $1171.30 (for “food for meet-and-greets, Bull Market booths, meetings and guest lectures”). Those are typical needs for any campus group.
The bill for funding the group went to the Student Government Senate and was heavily debated.
Sen. Charles Sherrard, who is majoring in political science, voted against the bill.
“I disapprove. These kinds of organizations are dangerous for our society,” Sherrard said.
Others added that “the group was immoral.”
A few intelligent people on the committee, even if they disagreed with the group’s beliefs, knew better:
“Though I may not agree with what you say, I will defend to the death your right to say it,” said Sen. Ryan Iacovacci, paraphrasing Voltaire.
“Tension is necessary, tension is what breeds creativity,” Iacovacci said. “If there is one side of the coin, then you get control. If there is tension, it breeds democracy.”Senate President Pro Tempore Nicole Randazzo also supported the bill.
“This is the students’ money, so give it back to the students.”
Added Sen. Benjamin Brown: “Regardless whether you believe in their views, I still think it’s good to have a diversity of opinions.”
Some made the right move (supporting the bill), but for the wrong reasons:
Sen. Keenan Arodak said SG should approve the funding request because disapproving it because of the group’s beliefs is illegal.
Despite all this, the funding was approved in a 13-4-2 vote, which is terrific for the ASA.
But it’s appalling that any student in a position of leadership would be against funding the group for those reasons.
I can see an argument being made that the requested money was too high an amount (if that were the case)… but there was no evidence of the group being dangerous or immoral — only that they were atheists.
Imagine if a Jewish group was denied funding for those reasons.
There’d be an outcry.
(via Secular Student Alliance)