The Student Assembly Finance Committee cut spring budgets last week for all student organizations, preventing the Cornell Coalition for Life and co-sponsors from bringing Norma McCorvey from coming to speak at Cornell. McCorvey is better known as Jane Roe, the plaintiff in the landmark Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court case that upheld the legality of abortion.
SAFC executive board members saw enough well-documented applications to greatly exceed the money they are allotted. The SAFC receives about $60 of the $167 annual student activity fee. This year that equated to slightly less than $1 million total, about a third of which was budgeted for the spring. Board members said that because many groups apply for an annual budget at the start of fall term, there are fewer requests in the spring.
“I feel they did a pretty good job of allocating the right amount of money [for the spring],” said Steve Grossman ’07, SAFC executive board co-chair.
One co-sponsored event that lost 33 percent of its funding a planned speech by McCorvey. The event was organized by the Cornell Coalition for Life and co-sponsored by the Cornell Political Coalition, the Bioethics Society of Cornell, the Cornell Catholic Community, Campus Crusade for Christ, the College Republicans, Cornell Advocates for the Family and the Catholic Circle.
“We had the speaker confirmed early last semester. Everything was set,” said Paul Ibrahim ’06, the president of CCFL.
McCorvey, 21 at the time of the case, hid her identity until the 1980s, when she published a book entitled I Am Roe: My Life, Roe v. Wade, and Freedom of Choice. McCorvey continued advocating for the pro-choice movement until her conversion to Evangelical Christianity in 1995. She has since started an anti-abortion organization called Roe No More.
The student organizations sponsoring the event asked for $5,700 and received $3,800 from the SAFC. Ibrahim said that he had committed at least 80 hours personally planning the event and that McCorvey had spent time scheduling and planning as well. According to Ibrahim, $700 in funds from co-sponsoring organizations had already been spent on the event.
After eliminating requests that were not properly documented or not covered by SAFC funding, cuts were made to keep within the budget.
“We have a finite set of funds,” said David Lederman ’06, SAFC executive board co-chair. Ibrahim also mentioned that one of Roe’s former lawyers, Sarah Weddington, came to speak in April of 2003. Weddington continues to be a pro-choice activist.
“By not giving us the money, [the SAFC] is canceling the event of an even more important person,” Ibrahim said.
Grossman and Lederman suggested that some groups may need to find other sources of funding. Other options are CU2Nite, academic departments and traditional fundraising. Though the co-sponsors of Roe are looking for additional funding, Ibrahim feels that SAFC money could be better allocated.
“There are so many identical groups that [the SAFC] keeps funding … They should see what is most beneficial to campus discussion,” Ibrahim said.
Grossman and Lederman said that SAFC funded groups are fairly well spread out in terms of their genre. The board felt the only fair way to make budget cut was to decrease the funding of all groups as equally as possible.
“We don’t really view ourselves in a place to judge the value of a group’s event,” Grossman said.
Archived article by Rebecca Shoval
Sun Staff Writer