Opponents said, “The Religious Funding Exemption bill is a facade to deprive GLBT students of resources to create a safe environment.”
The Texas A&M student senate passed a bill late Wednesday night that would allow students to “opt out of paying student fees that fund university services they disagree with on religious grounds,” reports The Eagle. According to the paper,
The Texas A&M student senate late Wednesday passed a bill aimed at letting students opt out of funding the university’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Resource Center on religious grounds.
After three hours of tear-filled testimony and impassioned debate, the senate voted 35-28 to approve the measure to allow students to choose not to pay portions of their student fees to specific university services that conflict with their religious beliefs.
For weeks, the student-led bill had been aimed at defunding the Texas A&M GLBT center, but approximately 24 hours before the final vote,the “GLBT Funding Opt Out Bill” became “The Religious Funding Exemption Bill.” Its scope was broadened, and it did not specifically mention GLBT services.
In 2012 A&M was ranked #1 in Texas and #7 in the nation for most “LGBT-unfriendly” public universities by the Princeton Review, and the debate over “The Religious Funding Exemption Bill” has caused quite a stir on the traditionally conservative campus. The bill will now move on to the student body president, John Claybrook, who told The Eagle that while a veto is always a possibility he is still “mulling the decision.” He said,
I don’t wish students to be disenfranchised with this or anything that this body does because these are students who have a home here and who are cared about by thousands and thousands and thousands of students. The actions by a few should not make them feel like this is not their home.
If Claybrook does sign the bill, it will then be forwarded to A&M’s President, Chief Financial Officer, System Chancellor, and the regents. However, administrators within A&M’s student affairs and finance divisions have the final say due to the fact that this bill would change the center’s budget.
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