April 22, 2010

Student Assembly Discusses Compromise in Resolution 75

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During yesterday’s Student Assembly meeting, LBGTQ Rep. Matt Danzer ’12 and Mike Wacker ’10, a Sun columnist, presented a resolution proposing an addition to the S.A.’s Charter. Resolution 75 represents a compromise between supporters of the  highly controversial Anti-Discrimination Clause — Resolution 44 — and the supporters of the similarly controversial Freedom Clause or Resolution 62.

S.A. Executive Vice President Nikhil Kumar ’11, expressing his satisfaction with the compromise, said, “This is a really great example of people working together. Danzer and Brokman had their Anti-Discrimination Clause and then Wacker had his First Amendment Clause and then the thought was put out that maybe there was some middle ground that could be reached that could outline our community’s values and enforce those values, too.”He continued, explaning the nature of the compromise: “What Danzer and Wacker want to do is to insert a clause [in the S.A. Charter] about the conduct of student groups regarding the First Amendment [and] they also wanted it to … restrict certain groups’ ability to discriminate based on certain [types of] protected status.”  Specifically, Resolution 75 only restricts the conduct of those groups that receive their funding from the Student Activity Fee.    The resolution prohibits all S.A.-funded student groups — both byline-funded groups that recieve funding directly from the S.A. and the non-byline funded groups that indirectly receive S.A. funding through a byline-funded group, such as the SAFC — from discriminating against members in a variety of protected classes when “voting for, seeking [or] holding positions within the organization.”  “It’s not giving me everything I wanted in Resolution 44 nor is it giving him everything he wants in the Freedom Clause,” Danzer noted. He explained that supporters of Resolution 44 were pleased by sub-section c of the proposed Charter addition, which dictates that, “Each organization receiving Student Activity Fee funds directly from the Student Assembly shall include a ‘Non-discrimination Clause’ section in its bylaws, constitution or other governing documents reflecting this policy.”According to Danzer, sub-section b was some source of controversy. “I think that looking at it grammatically [the resolution says] that organizations are able to create and enforce certain standards based on belief and conduct … so long as those standards are protected by the First Amendment and are appropriate according to University policy.” “From my standpoint it is a good resolution because it bridges the divide that existed between the two sides,” Kumar said. However, he stressed the idea that this legislation was not at end point, but rather a point upon which to build. “It brings the S.A. together and it is a good point on which to build the Cornell community,” Kumar explained. “This is the best short-term solution to the issue but we are looking into longer-term solutions that deal with independent student groups … the University is a little more hesitant.”President Skorton did not approve the S.A.’s original version of Resolution 44; instead of revising the Anti-Discrimination Clause, the S.A. responded with yesterday’s proposed Charter addition. Kumar, who called Resolution 75, “a responsible response to Skorton,” said that the resolution will come to a vote at next week’s meeting.

Original Author: Keri Blakinger