Why blocking religious funding makes sense

Proposal to block KSA funding to external religious and political groups makes good sense.

Proposal to block KSA funding to external religious and political groups makes good sense.

By The Runner

At the Kwantlen Student Association’s (KSA) April 11 special general meeting, aboriginal representative Melinda Bige proposed a policy that would bar the KSA from providing funding to clubs affiliated with political parties, with religious organizations or causes, or with external organizations. After a short but robust discussion, the debate was postponed until the fall so lawyers could be consulted.

KSA aboriginal representative Melinda Binge at the April 11 special general meeting. (Matt DiMera/The Runner)

The motion would reinstate the divide between recognised groups and organizations with full club status, a divide which was dissolved after the anti-choice group Protectores Vitae was given full club status despite their religious background. Bige made no secret that her motion was at least partially in response to their creation, using the club as an example of those who would be denied funding should the motion pass.

Many students in attendance felt the policy would encroach on personal freedoms. This is not the case. The motion is meant to protect the integrity of Kwantlen as an institution. Kwantlen has a diverse student body, and the Kwantlen Student Association (KSA) should continue to foster an open, inclusive campus for students of all faiths and political affiliations.

Recently, the Kwantlen International Student Society (KISS) received $1620 from the KSA to host an on-campus celebration of Holi, a Hindu holiday. The event included food, dancing and the iconic throwing of coloured powder. It allowed students to share their culture and traditions with the rest of campus. Under the proposed motion, events like this could still receive KSA funding. Despite being a religious celebration, KISS was hosting an event that was being held by students for students, and therefore was deserving of the student budget.

Bige’s motion would stop external groups not associated with the campus from using a budget made up of student funds from pushing their own agendas. While Protectores Vitae has religious ties, it is not being made an example of simply because it is religious. Instead, students should be concerned about its ties to external anti-choice groups which already provide it with financial support and are using it as a way to worm onto campuses and use money from students to do so.

Similarly, political groups on campus can still exist under the proposed motion. Students are free to show support for political parties, but student fees should not be used to fundraise for political parties that already have extensive funding of their own.

The KSA should not be in the business of providing funding to political parties. Students at Kwantlen are diverse and should not see their student fees going to support political parties of any kind.

Bige’s motion actually offers a fair solution to the club versus recognized group debate. It allows clubs previously excluded due to their possibly controversial ties access to funding, so long as it is students acting on behalf of students. By disallowing access to outside organization, it ensures the autonomy of the student association.