Following the controversy surrounding Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, a recently discovered Associated Students Finance Board discrepancy has left UCSB’s American Students for Israel at risk of sanctions.
Although Finance Board originally earmarked funds for ASI to present Tuesday’s screening of “Obsession,” publicity for the event named the Foundation for Defense of Democracy as the sponsor. Finance Board, which uses money from student fees to help campus groups put on events, is only allowed to fund events run by UCSB clubs that are registered with the Office of Student Life. ASI is registered with OSL, but FDD is not.
Finance Board member J.P. Primeau said the board would review the situation at its meeting Monday but added that the group was innocent until proven guilty.
“Right now I can’t say that they officially made a violation,” Primeau said. “I don’t want to blow this out of line.”
Event organizer Alan Levine, who is both president of ASI and a fellow with FDD, said the change of sponsorship was a result of last minute objections from some ASI members.
“We needed a campus group to request funds through,” Levine said. “ASI is a campus group. After getting the funding, some members didn’t approve. Since a lot of ASI members didn’t want to advertise the event as ASI, we put FDD.”
Finance Board earmarked $1,350 to ASI to fund the screening of “Obsession.” According to Primeau, Finance Board rules allow a group to use student money for an event it is co-sponsoring, but do not allow a group to transfer funds and sponsorship duties to another group entirely.
“If ASI is not really behind their own project, it’s gonna be a huge deal because of the controversy [surrounding this film],” Primeau said. “If it’s an issue of co-sponsorship, that’s alright.”
Levine said the change in sponsorship was not an intentional violation of policy but rather the result of a time-crunch leading up to the event, and added that FDD did provide $500 to help fund the event.
“I didn’t lie to Finance Board,” Levine said. “It was originally an ASI event. A number of ASI members were involved and did approve of the event. But I put it on for my FDD fellowship. FDD paid for the part that Finance Board didn’t pay for.”
This past week’s series of Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week events have caused conflict between campus groups such as College Republicans, Muslim Student Association and UCSB Democrats. In addition to the film screening, conservative talk-radio host Dennis Prager spoke to students last night in Girvetz Hall, Theater 1004. Students opposed to either the film screening or the Prager speech wore green shirts in protest, and passed out fliers on campus to draw attention to their views.
In addition to the legitimate fliers handed out by each side, an anonymous third party created a series of fliers, referring to Muslims as “evildoers” and “religious fanatics,” apparently with the goal of undermining claims by the sponsors of both “Obsession” and Prager that their events related to only a small minority of Islam.
The fliers named ASI as the sponsor of IFAW, although the official press release for “Obsession” made no mention of the group. Levine condemned the fliers and disavowed any ASI involvement in either the fliers or “Obsession.”
“Some people are actually going to think that we are the sponsors,” Levine said. “I put together this event for my fellowship with FDD.”
According to Primeau, if it is determined at Monday’s Finance Board meeting that ASI violated policy, the group will become subject to sanctions against the event and possible restricted funding for future events.
“The degree and strength of the sanctions can vary depending [on the action],” Primeau said. “They could be barred from funding for up to five years.”