Disregard for JFC policy hurts SGA
SGA’s strength has never lied in consistency or transparency, but their disregard of their own policies with the funding of College Republicans is a new low. This isn’t the first time the group has received funding for political activities, and unfortunately it will most likely not be the last.
I had the pleasure to meet [Undergraduate Student Body President] Corey Boone on the campaign trail last year, and I got to ask him about SGA funding political activities. He assuaged my worries by promising that he would never allow funding for political events, as it goes against JFC policy. Needless to say, I was quick to point this out to him when I first read about the College Republicans receiving money for both travel and registration for CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) last week. He promptly directed me to JFC policy, stated the amount awarded was a drop in the bucket compared to the amount SGA allocates every year and said the Technique’s coverage was biased and incorrect.
The fact is CPAC is held by the American Conservative Union, which is technically a non-profit but donates to the Republican Party almost every year (including over a million dollars in 2005). It is one of the most partisan mainstream organizations in this country. Along with legitimate political discourse, it has provided megaphones to hate speech for years, and our student activity fees are being given to them.
The registration fees that we are all paying for will aid a political party and some political extremists. The primary purpose of this event is to get Republicans elected and to gain momentum and donations for the Republican party. The notion that it doesn’t count as a political activity because it’s not focused on electing a single politician is absurd. Additionally, it specifically targets President Barack Obama with panels like “Lawlessness, Racialism and Terror at Obama’s Department of Justice.” If this isn’t in the interest of “defeat of a candidate for political office,” part of JFC’s definition of a political event, then I don’t know what is. Funding this goes directly against JFC, and SGA needs to recognize this.
After I pointed this out to Boone, I never heard back from him. However, the next day at UHR he continued to say the event doesn’t single out a politician and is not a political event. This is simply not true. He can let himself believe this, but the rest of SGA should not allow this blatant disregard of its own policies to continue.
[Ed. note: When reached for comment, Boone said the following: “I think he misinterpreted what I said. I clearly take my job seriously, and never intended to trivialize the decision made by [SGA], but I stand by the decision of the JFC because there is no empirical proof that the money we allocated to send the [College] Republicans was being funneled to anyone’s campaign.”]
Equal treatment of SGA bills needed
I’m glad that SGA is supporting the development of the fine arts among Tech students. However, I wish that SGA would be willing to support all campus organizations by removing its current transportation restrictions. SGA members are consistently willing to grant themselves special privileges, but they continually ignore the needs of other organizations by refusing to waive JFC’s transportation policy.
There is a MARTA line that has a stop at the entrance of the Woodruff Arts Center. (The estimated travel time by Google Maps is 13 minutes.) Why is there a need to pay $500 for buses? Instead, MOVE has needed transportation to the Atlanta Zoo at 6:30 a.m. The travel to the zoo would require two bus changes, at least 45 minutes of transit time and a walk through one of the most dangerous areas of Atlanta. Yet, JFC denied MOVE’s bill request for a bus. Other organizations such as the Student Hospital Connections have been denied similar requests.
I believe that SGA should support fine arts by providing transportation, but this also requires them to support other campus organizations by waiving JFC policy where the need is even greater (in the case of MOVE and Student Hospital Connections). SGA cannot play favorites with themselves. The student activity fee is for all student organizations to use equally, but at the moment SGA’s transportation restrictions are not equal. SGA must reform its transportation policies to enable its members to distribute funds in a fair and equal manner.