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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Polity Denies Funding to Pro-Choice Group

    When abortion is mentioned, controversy often arises. Members of Students forChoice, a group that has been unable to secure Student Activity Fee funding,say that the word ‘abortion’ has overshadowed their actual mission.They allege that it has prevented them from receiving the funding that theysay would allow them to educate the university community about reproductivehealth and rights, and increase awareness and activism on campus.

    Sources within Polity Student Association, the organization that allocatesstudent activity fees, identified the club’#146;s political nature and perceivedexclusion of pro-choice individuals as central to the decision to withhold funding.

    Students for Choice was begun in the fall of 2000, and became a recognizedstudent club soon after. They immediately began to plan events, and became affiliatedwith Planned Parenthood.

    ‘We wanted to have speakers, concerts raising awareness’#133;there’#146;sso much we want to do, but even flyers aren’#146;t possible without money,’Students for Choice President Amanda Savitz said.

    Planned Parenthood is currently supplying all materials used by the club. Studentsfor Choice members have helped run the mobile education van that does free HIVtesting on campus, and have distributed educational pamphlets and condoms. Thoughclub members feel they are fulfilling a needed role, they feel like there ismuch more they could be doing.

    ‘No group on campus focuses on these issues, and there is a need. Allour ideas were put on hold when we found out we had been denied [funding],’member Joanne Savarese said.

    Both Polity representatives and Students for Choice members say that the clubcompleted all necessary paper work, including the required signatures and constitution.There is a difference in opinion over how Polity handled the latter stages ofthe process.

    ‘The message we received was ‘#145;You are controversial, so we won’#146;tfund you,’#146; and when we challenged that, they [Polity officers] would comeup with another excuse,’ Savitz said.

    In addition to questionable justifications, the club alleges that phone callswere not returned and that vital documents, such as the Chancellor’#146;s guidelines,were not provided.

    ‘Free access to information is a reasonable request.’ Savarese said.

    According to the official SUNY Student Policy Manual, student activity feefunds should be allocated to recognized student organizations whose ‘purposeand activities are of educational, cultural, recreational or social nature.’Funding cannot be provided to discriminatory groups, or groups that directlysupport a political party or candidate.

    Polity has denied the group’#146;s allegations that phone calls were not returned,and has said that the club is of an exclusionary nature and was thereby preventedfrom being eligible for funding. The example given was that pro-choice individualswould not be welcome at Student for Choice meetings.

    Club members disputed this viewpoint. They said the group is no more politicalor exclusionary than many other student clubs, pointing to NYPIRG, the Womyn’#146;scenter and various ethnic organizations in particular.

    Quoting from their Constitution, members offered, ‘Students for Choiceis open to all undergraduates of Stony Brook University. It encourages diversityamong its members and does not discriminate.’

    Though frustrated, Students for Choice will continue to seek funding in aneffort to fulfill a role they believe to be vital on the Stony Brook campus:providing reproductive health services and advocating public policies that insureaccess to such services.

    When asked what advice she would give to other groups seeking Polity fiscalsupport, President Amanda Savitz said, ‘Don’#146;t be controversial. Thisschool doesn’#146;t like it.’

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