UST’s new student organization Diversity and Inclusion has been allocated $1,500 by the Student Government Association to host two LGBT-related events next fall with the stipulation that the chair of SGA’s Catholic Identity committee be included in the event planning process along with Campus Ministry.
SGA voted to allocate the money at its April 30 meeting after DIO’s initial allocation request for the LGBT events was tabled earlier that month. At the same meeting, the SGA passed a resolution to make the involvement of the Catholic Identity committee and Campus Ministry a prerequisite for all LGBT-related events on campus that receive funding from the SGA.
“This is so we don’t run into problems down the road again,” freshman criminology and theology major and SGA Pro Tempore Salvatore Aquila said at the April 30 meeting.
The SGA approved most of DIO’s initial budget request for the 2019-20 school year during a general student organization allocation meeting held April 16, but tabled approval of funding for the two LGBT events, which were requested by DIO’s vice president and junior international studies major Samaria Herbert.
DIO is a new student organization that was formed in the spring 2019 semester as part of a larger student organization restructuring spearheaded by Assistant Dean of Students Amanda Villanueva (like fellow organizations, DIO does not have a president position, but reports to the newly instituted student body president).
At the April 16 SGA meeting, the SGA told Herbert she should request the money from UST’s Treasury Board in Fall 2019 after submitting more detailed plans about the proposed LGBT events, including the names of any speakers, to ensure that the events would be held in a manner consistent with UST’s Catholic identity.
In response, Herbert submitted an appeal to SGA’s Chief Justice contesting SGA’s decision to table funding for its planned LGBT events and citing discrimination. A referendum was scheduled for May 13, but subsequently cancelled after a resolution was reached.
“During allocations I was trying to tell SGA, ‘The LGBT events are set up just like my other social groups and ethnic events; you have to ask me about those too,’” Herbert said.
The Independent asked several Senators to comment on this story, but they declined.
According to senior accounting and business administration major and SGA President Greg Pirolli, UST’s in-house counsel Gita Bolt was brought into a closed portion of the April 23 SGA meeting to address the legal implications of SGA’s decision to require more details about LGBT events from DIO before allocating funds for such events.
SGA observers including the Celt Independent were asked to leave the room by Dean of Students Lindsey McPherson while Bolt addressed the meeting. McPherson declined to comment on this story.
A few weeks later, a private mediation meeting between Herbert, Novak, Pirolli, Aquila, and Senator Michaella Mansicalo was then held to formulate the resolution that was passed April 30.
Herbert said she is satisfied with the resolution.
This is a developing story.