Discrimination, religion focal point of GLBT Center

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The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender community at Texas A&M University is in uproar over a bill that they call discriminatory. If passed the TAMU Student Senate bill would show support for the university letting students opt out of allocating their student service fees to the GLBT Resource Center for religious purposes.

Many students both at Sam Houston State University and TAMU voiced their concern and opposition to the idea behind the bill.
One former TAMU student, who currently attends SHSU, said that discrimination isn’t the real issue. The student requested to remain anonymous.

“This was my opinion at A&M too,” said the student. “Student fees should not go towards helping or funding student organizations because the people in charge of the funds, whether they say they are or not, are going to be biased.”

The student said that in today’s reality with polarized politics, it’s difficult to make unbiased decisions.

“It doesn’t matter who’s in charge of it. You cannot fairly say ‘we’re going to give money to this group, but we’re not going to give money to this group’,” the student said.
SHSU SGA vice president Kolby Flowers said that he thinks this issue wouldn’t come up at Sam Houston.

“I don’t think our SGA would ever be put into a situation where this would happen,” Floewrs said. “Our student government is made up of diverse students from many walks of life. Once you start the precedent of opting out of student fees for one thing so goes another fee for another service.”

TAMU freshman Amanda Massingill said that friction is created between organizations and students when mandatory fees are foisted for non-scholarly organizations.

“Personally, I don’t think that any of our [fees]à should go to any organization that is based on gender, nationality, religion, etc. that isn’t focused on matters of intellect,” said Massingill. “That way, anyone who has a belief system that keeps them from supporting a certain organization, they won’t have a dilemma.”

Massingill said that the bill is extremely discriminatory and lacks a bigger perspective.
“People shouldn’t be forced to financially support something that conflicts with their beliefs,” said Massingill. “But in order to prevent that, you have to give everyone that opportunity. If this bill allowed vegans to opt-out of any fee in their dining plan that goes towards animal products, or people who don’t believe in working out from paying the $106 to finance the REC, and any other circumstance that applied, then it would be different.”

According to the Texas Education Code section 54.50, “‘Student services’ means activities which are separate and apart from the regularly scheduled academic functions of the institution and directly involve or benefit students…”

Northside Sen. Chris Woosley authored the bill and defended his position yesterday.

“à Those who see this bill as discriminatory are distracting from the real goal of the bill, which is personal religious liberty,” Woosley said. “This is a bill to protect the religious conscience of students who disagree with their money going to fund this center. If students don’t have a religious disagreement with their money going to the center, then they may contribute as much money as they wish towards it. This is protecting the students who feel differently.”

Woosley also said that the wording of the bill might be changed during Tuesday’s Finance Committee meeting.

Justin Hooten, a member of SHSU’s GSK, anounced on GSK’s facebook page:

“Just a heads up, on Wednesday at 7:00 on a building at Texas A&M… there will be an open forum to discuss Texas A&M Student Senate Bill SB65-70, which would allow students to opt out of funding the GLBT Resource Center. The community, both at Texas A&M and at large, is invited to come show support.”

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