Religious funding needs clear definition

Last week, we said the Allocations Committee “has no consistency in approving funding for events that will attract a large number of students.”

Looks like we need to say that again.

Last Thursday, the committee rejected The Dive’s financial request to bring Stacey Kole, a beauty queen who overcame anorexia through religion. Kevin Folk, undergraduate student senator for business and finance and the allocations committee chair, said USS does not fund religious events.

“The allocations guidelines clearly state that the student activity fees cannot go towards religious activities,” Folk said. “These guidelines are our rules that we have followed all year.”

All year? Just last month, Hillel brought West Wing star Joshua Malina to Kent State.

USS gave Hillel $18,000 for Malina to speak about his Israeli and Jewish background to an nearly empty ballroom (about 100 people came) yet rejected The Dive, who usually does a good job at filling up the ballroom for its events.

Kim Thompson of The Dive said she was “flabbergasted” at the seemingly double standard, and she has a point. USS needs to better address the situation.

Folk said the allocation guidelines on religious activities are clear. Under Section 4 of the 2005-2006 Allocations Committee guidelines, it states “federal, state and local laws as well as institutional policies specifically prohibit the use of allocations for. religious activities.”

Not very clear to us. Defining what is and isn’t a religious activity could be helpful.

Granted, representatives from Hillel could argue Joshua Malina came to Kent State not to preach, but to educate others on Israel. That argument would be valid and also compliant with Section 3 of the Allocations Committee guidelines. The guideline states “Organizations that have restrictive membership clauses are not eligible for funding to attend conferences, conventions, workshops, or seminars; but are eligible for limited funding (cultural and educational) when the programs are held on the Kent State campus and are open to the entire student body.”

It didn’t look like Hillel got limited funding; $18,000 could cover a full year of tuition and textbooks for two students.

USS probably approved Hillel’s event because it was designed to educate the student body, or at least the approximate .5 percent of it who attended.

In the past, USS has approved of Dive programs like “Power of Porn,” where a speaker explained how faith helped him overcome his porn addiction. Now, all The Dive wants to do is bring a speaker who will explain how faith helped her overcome anorexia. Why is this event any different?

This editorial board has no problem with religious groups getting USS money for events, so long as it is aimed to entertain/educate the entire student body. After all, the student activity money is available for just about any registered student organization who wants it.

This year though, USS has been repeatedly wasting money into meager events attended by dismal crowds. We want to see Kent State’s student activity money better spent.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.