The Campus Republicans tried to win Ben Stein’s money at last night’s meeting of the Associated Students Finance Board, but instead left with $300 to cover the advertising costs of their event.
Following a discussion over the partisan implications of the event, which would feature political conservative-turned-actor Ben Stein, Campus Republicans Chair Sally Marois withdrew her request for $2,000 to cover the cost of his contract and instead requested funding to pay for publicity expenses. At the meeting, the Isla Vista Recreation and Parks District and El Congreso also received $500 for their annual Halloween/Dia de los Muertos Festival, and the Muslim Student Association received $500 for its “Fast-a-thon.” The board allocated all funding on the condition that it be used specifically for advertising expenses in each case and now has a budget of $3,824.61 for the remainder of the quarter.
Marois said her organization invited Ben Stein to speak on campus about an upcoming UCSB Academic Senate meeting concerning the presence of military recruiters on campus.
“The Academic Senate is voting on banning military recruiters from campus,” Marois said. “It’s an event where everyone can come and it’s free. It’s important because people don’t know what’s going on. We’ve already raised a good deal of money.”
Last May, Faculty Legislature Chair Walter Yuen said the legislature — a committee of the Academic Senate — will decide whether to support the removal of military recruiters from the UCSB campus this fall. The Academic Senate web site has not yet listed a date for the meeting at which this vote will take place.
Marois said Ben Stein’s contract to speak on this issue will cost her organization $15,000. After contacting several donors, Marois said, Campus Republicans is only $2,000 short of their goal.
“We’re so close and we’ve already scooped the bottom of the barrel as far as private donors go,” Marois said. “We phoned a lot of people and this past Saturday we raised $2,500 from $25 donations. That’s a lot of phone calls and there are not a lot of Republicans in Santa Barbara County to ask donations from.”
Marois also said the purpose of the event was to sponsor discussion amongst students, not to recruit new Republicans.
“We’re not recruiting,” Marois said. “We just want people to be educated. It’s not about Republican ideology. It’s about having a forum.”
However, A.S. Committees on Committees Coordinator Justin Pabian said he felt the event was biased, after observing a statement on the College Republicans’ sample flyer.
“It says ‘Join Ben Stein in the fight to keep military recruiters on the UCSB Campus,'” Pabian said. “It doesn’t seem to promote education or awareness. There’s no guarantee of a discussion.”
A.S. President Chaz Whatley also said she was concerned about the nature of the event.
“For me it’s not a political issue,” Whatley said. “It’s just that it seems more like a lecture… I would feel better if this was a non-partisan group putting this on.”
In response, Marois said Stein’s presentations were interactive and that her group would change the wording on the flyer to appease the board members’ concerns. But A.S. Internal Vice President Adam Graff said A.S. could not finance Stein’s contract because the board had not received a copy of the contract in time.
“The speaker’s contract must be submitted to the Board two weeks in advance of the event,” Graff said. “There are only 10 days left.”
Marois then changed her request from funding Stein’s contract to funding the event’s advertising.
A.S. Off-Campus Representative and College Republicans member Eva Kilamyan said she believed the group was treated unfairly and deserved more money.
“Even if there wasn’t a conscious bias, I think what you believe creeps into some of the policy-making,” Kilamyan said. “I’ve seen [A.S.] be more sympathetic to liberal groups in the past. It seemed like there was an unfair amount of scrutiny.”
Ben Stein is scheduled to speak at Corwin Pavilion on Oct. 13 at 8 p.m. The Muslim Student Association will hold its Fast-a-thon, where students fast in order to raise money to aid Hurricane Katrina Victims on Oct. 27, at Corwin Pavilion, and the annual Halloween/Dia de los Muertos Festival will be held on the afternoon of Oct. 31 at Anisq’ Oyo’ Park.