After a lengthy debate regarding a controversial Finance Board allocation, the Associated Students Legislative Council approved the funding of Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.
During a two-and-a-half hour meeting, members discussed an A.S. Finance Board allocation of $1,100 to the College Republicans for speaker Dennis Prager, a conservative radio host, to appear on campus. After a lengthy discussion period, the council – which has the power to deny funding by not passing the board’s minutes – approved the allocation.
Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, to be held Oct. 22-26, will take place at over 200 college campuses across the country. Among the events scheduled for UCSB – and funded by A.S. – are the film “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West,” hosted by American Students for Israel, and Prager’s appearance. Several other campus organizations have planned events in counter-protest.
Some students attending the council meeting spoke out against the week’s message and its alleged racist component. June Hamad, a second-year biopsychology major, said the event could spawn hatred on campus.
“It’s basically a form of brainwashing people to think Middle Easterners should be feared and because of this religion they are… violent,” Hamad said. “It will cause problems on campus.”
However, third-year geography major Carlos Baez said while he did not support the event’s purpose, he believed it deserved funding for promoting discourse on campus.
“I see that this council should have a responsibility to have every group speak, regardless of what the message is,” Baez said. “By them daring to have this event, they’ve actually created dialogue.”
Following the student comments, council members tackled the issue for the remainder of the meeting.
Jose Raygoza, a proxy on the council who also serves on Finance Board, said he believed A.S. should consider what events it pays for, as it reflects on the organization.
“Things that A.S. funds say what A.S supports,” Raygoza said. “So does A.S. support this conservative ideology? [Prager] can come on campus and stand on a box in the UCen and say whatever he wants. Shall A.S. put a microphone next to his mouth and a stage to speak on?”
Rep-at-Large J.P. Primeau said he believed the issue at hand was providing free speech regardless of personal opinions.
“By exhibiting bias on this board we are setting quite a dangerous precedent,” Primeau said. “[Not funding the event] would be an absolute example of us showing a bias. It’s about funding these student groups and helping them create a voice, no matter what that voice may be. I think we would be doing a tremendous disservice to the students if we amended these minutes.”
After additional discussion, the council voted to approve the minutes with 14 in favor and eight against.
At the end of the meeting, members reflected on the decision. Jennie Beeson, a proxy and Finance Board member, said she was dissatisfied with the funding approval for the Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.
“I am embarrassed for us and for myself for being a part of the organization,” Beeson said.
Yet, Off-Campus Rep Dan Plotkin reiterated the need to provide money for groups regardless of personal ideology.
“Do we support it?” Plotkin said. “Absolutely not. Is it free speech? Absolutely.”
Meanwhile, no bills or resolutions were brought to the table at yesterday’s meeting.