Council to defund religious, political U. Virginia student groups
By Deirdre Erin Murphy
(U-WIRE) CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- In an unprecedented move, the Universitiy of Virginia Student Council Appropriations Committee decided to follow appropriations rules that exclude religious and political student organizations from funding.
Each year the Board of Visitors charges Student Council with the task of appropriating funds from the Student Activities Fee to various student organizations on Grounds.
In past years Council neglected to follow the specific guidelines given for this process by the Board.
"In general there has been confusion to the hierarchy of rules," Appropriations Committee Chair Patrick McCreesh said.
"I think that, in the past, some have placed Student Council rules at the top, but truly, it is the Board of Visitors guidelines that are the law of the land around here," McCreesh said.
The guidelines state that fraternities, sororities, honor societies, political and religious organizations and special status student organizations are ineligible for funds.
This is the first year the rules on political and religious organizations will be followed strictly.
Black Voices, Orthodox Christian Fellowship, University Christian Fellowship and the Bahai Association are some of the student organizations that will be denied funding.
Vice President for Organizations Kelly Harris said the student groups will have the opportunity to seek funding with other organizations, such as the Student Affairs Office, the Cultural Programs Board, the Parents Program and Alumni Hall.
"We're not trying to leave these organizations in the cold," Harris said. "We are trying to help them by sending them to alternate funding sources."
Council already has notified the religious groups that will not be funded.
Orthodox Christian Fellowship treasurer Nick Jabbour said the group felt hindered but not completely damaged by the enforcement of the rules.
"We had a lot of plans that we wanted to pursue. We will just have to be a little more creative when it comes to fundraising," Jabbour said.
Jabbour is also a Council representative and member of the Appropriations Committee.
"I don't fault appropriations for formally enforcing rules that haven't been enforced in the past," he added.
Other groups affected by the new implementation of the rule include political groups on Grounds that are involved with promoting issues or candidates.
Council still is trying to decide exactly which political organizations fall under the Board's definition.
"Some political groups may have misclassified themselves," Harris said. "Upon review of their constitution, some groups are more cultural than political, based upon the definition given by the Board of Visitors."
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