SGB reverses decision for anti-abortion group

By Liz Navratil

For the first time this year, Student Government Board reversed one of its decisions, choosing… For the first time this year, Student Government Board reversed one of its decisions, choosing Friday to give Students for Life funding to attend an anti-abortion march.

The board previously denied Students for Life, a group that advocates for anti-abortion issues, the $1,515 it requested to attend the March for Life in Washington in January.

Board member and president-elect Charlie Shull said at the time that he thought the group was “proselytizing” for its cause rather than lobbying.

Justin Romeo, who competed against Shull in this year’s SGB presidential election and represented Students for Life during its request for funding, said he thought many campus groups would be “appalled” by the statement that the group was proselytizing.

Romeo approached the SGB adviser, Joyce Giangarlo, last week to see where the group got its definition of proselytizing. Romeo also e-mailed Shull for further explanation.

Shull said in an e-mail to Romeo that he was concerned that the Newman Oratory, a group that had previously received SGB funding to attend the March for Life, shared “the same student membership” as Students for Life, among other groups.

He explained in a separate interview that he was initially concerned there would be a “double-dipping of the funds.”

Shull also expanded, in his e-mail, upon his definition of proselytizing.

“By way of signage, some members of these groups have held signs justifying their pro-life views through divine purpose and eschatology,” he wrote. “I interpreted this to be proselytizing by these groups and voted to deny the request knowing what some members of Students for Life have done in the past at this event.”

He later said he didn’t think Students for Life tried to “abuse” funds and that, upon reconsidering, he didn’t think it’d be fair for him to suggest that Students for Life intended to proselytize, based on what other people had done at the march in the past.

Board members reconsidered the issue in a planning session Friday, when they unanimously decided to give Students for Life funding for its march.

Board members Nila Devanath and Ada Noh voted to grant Students for Life its request during Tuesday’s meeting.

Romeo said he was happy with the board’s decision to give Students for Life funding, but he still worried about how the board defined proselytizing. He said he worried that the board could say groups are proselytizing simply because they have religious members.

“If SGB wants to deny students funding to do advocacy work, lobbying, then they can do that as long as it’s uniform across the board,” Romeo said. “Just because you have a religious belief doesn’t mean you should be treated differently.”