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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Committee to hear GLBT bill feedback

Despite controversy surrounding The GLBT Funding Opt-Out Bill, there will be little public testimony at the Student Senate Finance Committee meeting Tuesday.
The Opt-Out bill states students who object, for religious purposes, to the use of their student fees and tuition to fund [the GLBT Resource] Center to opt out of paying an amount equal to their share of the Centers funding.
When finance committee chair Fernando Sosa decided to allow people who requested via email to speak about the bill, he noted there may be an issue of limited space. However, Sosa confirmed Monday evening that one student requested to speak during the meeting that could shape the writing of the bill. I know several students are interested in [the bill], so I made sure to inform the branch leaders and all the members of the legislative branch in hopes that they will share the information with their constituents, Sosa said.
Part of the reason for the lack of sign ups can be attributed to GLBT Awareness Week activities, hosted by the GLBT Resource Center. Writer and activist Robyn Ochs will speak on the topic of identity and sexuality at 7 p.m. Tuesday, running through the start of the Finance Committee meeting for the Opt-Out bill at 8 p.m.
Camden Breeding, senior electrical engineering major and former GLBT Aggies president, said hes more concerned with educating fellow students about the GLBT community than with the Opt-Out bill.
In todays globalized society it is important to remember that LGBT people are your fellow Aggies brothers, sisters, co-workers, aunts, uncles and neighbors, Breeding said. LGBT people transcend every social barrier that exists social class, race, gender and age. We are a community of many but are held together by a common thread.
Kim Villa, president of the student-run organization GLBT Aggies and junior health major, said no representatives of GLBT Aggies will speak at the Finance Committee meeting, in part because the organization does not want to lose the strength of its message by being too active.
It can be overwhelming for all of us to be always present and talking and fighting, Villa said. We want to try and keep people present at [GLBT events].
GLBT Aggies will, however, speak at the open forum during the Senate session meeting Wednesday, if the Opt-Out bill passes through committee Tuesday.
George Cunningham, president of the GLBT support organization Aggie Allies, said there will be a representative who will read off the official Aggie Allies statement in opposition to the Opt-Out bill at the Wednesday meeting. The statement will encourage senators to vote against the bill, claiming the bill contradicts Texas A&M goals of diversity in student population and education.
Under the current version of the Opt-Out bill, its premise states that, as a public institution, A&M has an obligation to spend students money in ways that reflect the values of its students. The bill also states that many students disagree with the use of student fee and tuition money to pay for a GLBT Resource Center for religious reasons.
Bill author Christopher Woolsey said he has actively looked for ways to improve the bill and welcomes feedback. Woolsey also said the committee meetings are primarily for making sure that bills are fundamentally solid and less of a platform for the debate that occurs in session meetings.
Im definitely open to suggestions and people who will come up to me with things that will help accomplish the goal better, Woolsey said. The way that I see it is not always the best way.
Woolsey said his email inbox has been flooded with opinions and ideas about the bill. Woolsey said the messages have ranged from hate mail, respectful requests for an end to the bill and thank you messages in support of the bill.

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