Despite failure to override veto, conservative Aggies vie to create family values organization
A bill that conservative students hoped would help establish a family values center to offset the values of the GLBT Resource Center at Texas A&M University failed to pass the student senate this week, as proponents were unable to gather enough votes to overturn a veto by the Student Body President.
But members of the Texas Aggie Conservatives (TAC) still hope to create an organization on campus they will dub “Aggies for True Love and Marriage” to promote heterosexual, conservative values on the A&M campus.
“I am searching for a faculty advisor to help us form a student organization,” TAC president Justin Pulliam said. “Currently, Texas A&M uses taxpayer dollars and student fees to fund GLBT programming and the GLBT Resource Center. The GLBT Resource Center promotes sex among unmarried students and hosts several leftist speakers each year. Taxpayers and students are being forced to fund programming that is offensive and immoral to most people. The Aggie Conservatives will continue to expose institutional bias and funding bias at Texas A&M.”
The student senate bill failed to get the two-thirds majority vote necessary to override the SBP’s veto, according to Student Senator Michael Ariza, who also is a TAC member.
“It did, however, gain votes,” Ariza said. “I believe the final vote tally was 24 for and 19 against. I expect the measure to pass through the Texas Senate with relative ease, and that will be the measure that actually has a real effect on how funding is distributed at public institutes of higher education in the state of Texas.”
The battle among Aggies over the GLBT center arose in response to a Texas House budget amendment by state Rep. Wayne Christian (R-Center) mandating that a university should spend an equal amount of “appropriated funds” on a “family and traditional values” center as it does on a “gender and sexuality” center. Christian has said his amendment is mainly aimed at existing centers at A&M and the University of Texas at Austin.
However, documents obtained by the Texas Independent show that funding for A&M’s GLBT center is primarily derived from student tuition and fees — sources of money not classified as “appropriated funds,” according to the Legislative Budget Board.
The GLBT center’s budget, obtained via an open records request, confirms statements made by Dr. Anne Reber, interim director of the Dean of Student Life offices and Lowell Kane, the center’s program coordinator. Of the GLBT center’s operating budget of about $100,000, less than 38 percent comes from state funds – which are exclusively directed toward staff salaries. Nearly half (about $49,000) comes from student service fees, and the remaining comes from designated tuition funds.
Meanwhile, UT’s center is wholly financed by student service fees and private donations, center director Ana Ixchel Rosal has told the Texas Independent.
The amendment author, state Rep. Wayne Christian (R-Center) recently told the Texas Independent he doesn’t know if his legislation would affect funding from student fees, tuition or donations, saying he is “interested in finding out the legal opinion.”
At A&M, TAC members are continuing their fight against what they see as an immoral stance by the GLBT center with new postings on the group’s website about the issue, including a video taken at a GLBT “fun sex seminar” on “butt play.” The conservatives said the video promotes the teaching of “disgusting and very risky sex between the unmarried.” The site warns that the video “is probably too sick for any sane person to watch. But since your student fees went to this, we think you should know.”
The conservative group also takes issue with what they deem leftist speakers that have appeared at the GLBT center. According to the site, one speaker, who identified as Buddhist, criticized the free market in “Marxist fashion” by denouncing child labor in developing countries. The site also criticized speakers at the center for being pro-labor and speaking out in favor of the DREAM Act, which the group says promotes illegal immigration.
(Image by Matt Mahurin)