Sound decision

I would like to clarify the action of the executives of the Student Association in regards to Farrakhan’s funding. The Star has not inaccurately portrayed the events. However, the complication of this issue lends itself to further explanation.

When the request of $4,000 from supplemental funding was brought before us by the Black Student Union on Jan. 12, it was not possible for us to hold a senate meeting to view the issue.

Our bylaws state that in times where immediate action is necessary and the senate cannot meet, the executives can act in place of the senate. Although we would have preferred the senate to act on a matter this controversial in nature, this was not a possible alternative. We, therefore, decided to view the request.

Our decision to fund Farrakhan was based on the widespread support that exists on campus to see him. In addition, we did not feel that his presence on campus would bring a potential for violence.

The amount that was allocated is not an extravagant amount to be spent on a program. It is common to fund programs significantly more, which have a similar amount of interest to Farrakhan’s appearance. Already, over 1,000 tickets have been sold to see Farrakhan. These tickets have sold more quickly than other programs which have been funded larger amounts of money. Much of the money that was funded may be returned to the student activity fee through ticket sales.

The Student Association has not stated consent of Farrakhan’s message by funding him, nor did CAB when they allocated $5,000 from mid-level funding in November, 1989, for Farrakhan’s visit; nor does the SA or CAB necessarily agree with the content of any speaker’s message or band’s lyrics when they are funded to speak or perform at NIU.

As students of a public university, we must encourage the free exchange of ideas and the opportunity to view and challenge those ideas. If we have not yet learned to be open to difference, then we are learning very little from this university experience. The Student Association is not an avenue of censorship for programs. It assesses the prudence of a program based upon student support and the safety of the campus.

The SA executives acted within the purview of our powers. We did not carelessly or thoughtlessly make a decision to fund this program. If you have not heard Farrakhan speak and are basing your judgements on hearsay, I encourage you to see him. If you find his message offensive, then challenge it.

Huda Scheidelman

SA President