Controversial funding vote was close at ASUO senate

Last night’s ASUO Senate meeting was filled to the brim with more groups present for special requests than any other meetings this year.

Members of the LGBTQA came before the Senate requesting money to host Janet Mock, former People Magazine staff editor and active member in the transgender community, at the University of Oregon. The group requested $18,000 to have the speaker present and welcomed students and the community to attend. The request was granted.

Shortly after, Delta Tau Delta approached the Senate to fund another public speaker, Chris Widener. Widener is a former state senator and has remained a public figure as a motivational speaker. Delta Tau Delta requested $5,000 from the Senate to host him. However, during their request, Elle Mallon expressed concerns that Widener has previously expressed what she described as ableist views and therefore this event would foster an unsafe environment for students with mental or physical disabilities.

“If you think that leadership should only be accessible to the able, that’s what you’re doing here,” Mallon said.

Mallon was not alone in advocating against Widener’s presence on campus. Representatives from multiple student groups spoke on their problems with the speaker’s language and message.

Members from Delta Tau Delta responded by saying they did not want anyone to feel unsafe and suggested several alternatives to try to appease the protestors but also still allow Widener to speak. Senator Tayeh raised the idea that it may be beneficial to receive the speaker in order to open up dialogue about this issue and bring the conversation to campus. This idea, however, was not welcomed by those opposed.

Senate President Rhodes eventually called the question after moving to transfer, since the discussion lasted over 46 minutes. The motion did not pass.

Members of Delta Tau Delta thanked the Senate for hearing their request and addressed the individuals with issues about the speaker.

“These sort of discussions I think are really valuable. We don’t want anyone to feel unsafe and we would like to thank you for speaking to us about this because we have all learned a lot,” a member from Delta Tau Delta said.

Long debate also characterized the benchmark discussions, but Senate approved all benchmarks for the EMU Board, PFC, ACFC and DFC. The meeting was adjourned at 12:37 a.m.

Keep up with ASUO senate meetings and visit the ASUO website for more information.

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Ally Taylor

Ally Taylor