Allocations denies speaker funding request

Pat Jarrett

Committee rejects Dive’s proposal for program’s ‘religious element’

The Undergraduate Student Senate Allocations Committee denied a funding request from The Dive yesterday because of the proposed program’s “religious element,” Dive Director Rick McKee said.

The Dive proposed a speech by Stacey Kole, a former beauty queen who suffered from anorexia in her teens. Through religion, she overcame the disorder and now speaks about it, McKee said.

The proposal was originally tabled last week. Kevin Folk, undergraduate student senator for business and finance and chair of the Allocations Committee, said in an e-mail that the request was tabled because the event would be 13 days before another event of a similar topic for which funds had already been allocated.

The request came up again at yesterday’s meeting.

Four of the seven seats voted the proposal down, and when pressed for a reason, McKee said they specifically cited the religious aspect.

In an e-mail, Folk said this is consistent with the allocations guidelines.

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

Kim Thompson, a student representative for The Dive, was at the meeting. She said she was flabbergasted because of other religious-themed events funded by USS, the most recent of which was Hillel’s presentation with Josh Malina. The Stater reported Jan. 30 that USS granted approximately $18,000 to bring in the West Wing actor.

McKee said he was surprised because USS sponsored the presentation of Gene McConnell, titled “The Power of Porn,” that filled the Kent State Ballroom in Fall 2004.

USS made the program break for a short time to separate McConnell’s speech about pornography and his religious speech, he said.

“It’s crystal clear that what they did was blatantly unconstitutional,” McKee said. “I’m going to try to be diplomatic, but it comes to a point where I have to say that this is unconstitutional, and I have to put my foot down.”

McKee said he is close to contacting lawyers for Campus Crusade for Christ to fight the issue.

McKee and Thompson both said they sent letters of appeal to Folk. Other allocations committee members and an adviser would not comment on the story.

Contact religion reporter Pat Jarrett at [email protected].