Funding decision reversed for Dive

Pat Jarrett

The university overturned an Undergraduate Student Senate allocations committee decision denying funds for a Dive program because of religious elements.

After speaking to legal counsel, the university decided that the decision USS made was not content neutral, said Greg Jarvie, Dean of Students and Ombuds in a voice-mail message. This means the decision was based on the content of the program.

Bill Ross, executive director of USS, said he and Kevin Folk, Allocations Committee chair, got the news Wednesday afternoon and notified the Dive Thursday.

“People (in USS) are just glad that we came to a decision that won’t violate any laws or anybody’s freedom to do anything,” Ross said.

The Dive went to the allocations committee Feb. 2 requesting funds to bring Stacey Kole, a former beauty queen, to speak about her struggle with eating disorders and how her faith helped her. After the issue was tabled the request was denied at the Feb. 9 meeting.

Dive Director Rick McKee immediately started a letter of appeal and sent an e-mail to Dive members urging them to write letters to the Stater, start petitions, organize protests and pray.

“The squeaky wheel gets the grease, so let them hear your voice,” the e-mail read from McKee.

The wheel got grease.

“I was disappointed that we, the Dive, asked for $2,400 and got turned down, but they were able to give tens of thousands of dollars for similar events,” said Bryce McKenney, sophomore pre-med major and host of the Thursday night programs. “I don’t feel like students are getting enough out of the funds they are being allocated.”

McKee said he is grateful the university understood it was not about money, but about an unconstitutional process.

“By and large the Allocations Committee voted by what they understood,” McKee said. “The way they were being instructed needs to be reformed. That is happening. This is a good thing.”

Kole will speak at 7 p.m. Feb. 28 in the Student Center Ballroom; the event is free and open to the public.

Contact religion reporter Pat Jarrett at [email protected]