There seems to be a great deal of controversy swirling around Psalm 100’s decision to expel Will Thomason from the group because of differences in opinion over homosexuality. But I think the controversy is occurring for all the wrong reasons. Most of UNC’s chattering class are naturally talking about how Christians hold archaic views on homosexuality and hate gay people. Not particularly original, and not particularly interesting.
But let’s take a look at the Student Code, specifically Title V, Section 109, which reads
Funding decisions for programs, services, or events shall be made without regard to the viewpoints expressed.
According to Section 202, there are four criteria that “should be used in judging the worthiness of any group to receive funding.” Those are
A. Representation. SC should consider the number of students affected and the number of students involved in a project. SC should try to anticipate this representation by looking at past involvement, enthusiasm for the program, current opinions about the program, and the amount of involvement anticipated by the organization.
B. Vitality. SC should consider how vital a program is to the organization. Criteria to be considered should be the priority of the program in relation to other programs sponsored by the organization,whether or not it is in part a fundraising program, and how it would affect the morale of the organization.
C. Specialization. The Congress should consider how unique a program is to the Student Body. It should consider the cultural/educational value of the program, whether or not it overlaps another program on campus, the amount of recognition it brings to the University, and the identification it has with the organization.
D. Generated Funds, i.e. outside income.
Note that none of these criteria concern the political correctness of a group’s constitution (which, incidentally, must be submitted every year to the Division of Student Affairs for approval).
Now let’s turn to recent events. In the DTH article, Jared Simmons, Chair of the Finance Committee, says that “any uncertainty surrounding the group’s student organization status could give him authority to apply further scrutiny to their [Psalm 100’s] requests.” This “rule” cannot actually be found anywhere in the Code. Title V, Section 106 stipulates that only groups recognized by UNC’s Division of Student Affairs (which Psalm 100 is) may spend student government appropriations. Uncertainty about the group’s future status does not allow Congress to apply extra scrutiny to such groups’ funding requests. Especially considering that no official review of Psalm 100’s status has been announced, it might be prudent for the Finance Committee to refrain from apply “further scrutiny” until such time as Psalm 100’s recognition is actually revoked.
Equally troubling is the tendency for some members of Congress to openly flaunt the above-mentioned rules. Foremost among these is Leah Josephson, District 6 Representative. As you’ll see in the above screenshot, she has pledged “no more funding if i [sic] have anything to do with it.” While Ms. Josephson is entitled to her own opinion, as a member of Congress (and of the Finance Committee), she is required to abide by the funding standards set forth in the Code. Pledging to ensure that a group receives no funding because you disagree with their political/religious beliefs is expressly forbidden by the Code (in addition to the ethical concerns involved) and sets you up for nice, fat lawsuit when the group is denied funding.
While members of our august body may have differences in opinion over Psalm 100’s decision to expel one of its members, such differences in opinion do not allow Congress to cut off access to (or threaten to cut off access to) student government funds. Every student at this university pays into the student government funding pot, and every student at this university has a right to that funding, provided that the criteria set forth in the Code are met. Threatening to cut off access to these resources over political differences is just as bad as expelling someone from your group over political differences. To do so is not only unethical, it is illegal.