SA sens. pledge to enforce bylaws

By Matt Gilbert

A Student Association senator is pledging to find ways to better enforce and clarify SA bylaws prohibiting funding of political organizations.

The senator also spoke out against what he called organizations that “hide behind ethnic makeup to promote political ideals.”

The remarks were made by SA Sen. Mark Battaglia after a vote in Sunday’s meeting to grant El Pueblo Unido $301.60 for automotive, printing, postage and honorarium costs.

“With all the favoritism to multiculturalism we’re very reluctant not to give them the money they want,” Battaglia said. “It’s very easy to cry racism.

“(These political organizations) say they’re promoting their culture, multiculturalism, or educating the students, but actually they’re promoting their own political ideals.”

“Everything you do in life has political aspirations behind it,” said SA senator and El Pueblo Unido member David Marquez in response to Battaglia’s comments. “We try to present an alternative view to everything that is presented in the media. In our point of view it is an educational forum. It’s just to form an alternative perspective.

“Yes, some of the things are political, but we don’t ask everyone to believe our political views. All we ask is for people to respect it,” Marquez said.

Battaglia noted that he did not intend to single out El Pueblo Unido, but it is an example of an organization using money from student fees to promote political causes in violation of SA bylaws.

Battaglia cited Lesbian Gay Bisexual Coalition (LGBC) as another example. “I believe we sent a few of them to Washington D.C. to protest last year,” Battaglia said. “I can’t remember exactly what it was, but the treasurer backed me up on that.”

SA Sen. Richard Cliffe agreed with Battaglia. “As somebody who spent ten years in the marine corps, defending their right to have those beliefs, I’d fight to the death again for them to have that right. But I personally don’t feel that we should have to fund them when I don’t believe in the way they feel.”

SA Sen. Curry Kimble disagreed, saying that personal biases should not enter into funding decisions. “When we make comments like ‘I don’t agree with their political views, I think this is a front for minorities,’ basically what you’re saying is that anyone can ask for an increase except minority organizations or an organization (with disagreeable) political views. I think that’s totally ridiculous.”

SA bylaws say “organizations that are affiliated with political parties or that engage solely in the backing of political causes” shall not be funded.

SA Public Relations Adviser Anna Bicanic said the bylaw originated after students at the University of California protested the use of their student fees to fund campus chapters of national political organizations like Greenpeace or Amnesty International.

Bicanic said organizations that are more overtly political, like Young Democrats or College Republicans, are not funded.

“It’s something that needs to be examined and clarified,” Bicanic said. “If we were to stop funding organizations that espoused any political point of view, that would eliminate a lot of organizations.”

According to Marquez, El Pueblo Unido has sponsored several events this semester, including “USA on trial,” in which the flier advertised for students to “come find out why the U.S. was found guilty of genocide” in Puerto Rico, and “Women in Resistance,” which examined the “underrated” role of women in social movements, like the Civil Rights Movement.

Other events sponsored by the organization included an examination of the terms “Latino” and “Hispanic,” favoring the term “Latino”; “Multiculturalism—can it work?” in which the organization spoke in favor of multiculturalism; a showing of the film “American Me,” which explored Latino gang issues and participation in the Knox conference, which promotes Chicano studies.