Last Wednesday evening, the Graduate Student Council (GSC) denied funding for an event hosted by the Stanford Anscombe Society (SAS) following community outcry over alleged “anti-LGBT” content.
SAS’s April conference, titled “Communicating Values,” has a two-fold purpose, according to SAS president Judith Romea ’14, between educating attendees on the public policy issues surrounding marriage and family and exploring how media, entertainment and technology can be used to better facilitate the communication underlying marriage and the family.
SAS had sought $600 in honoraria funds from the GSC for conference speakers. However, members of GradQ, the queer graduate student organization, criticized the speaker list–which included Robert Lopez, Kellie Fiedorek and Ryan Anderson–as inappropriately controversial.
Bringing the speakers to Stanford would threaten the safety of campus for the queer population, according to Brianne Huntsman ’15, who started a Facebook event to organize a rally at the GSC meeting on Wednesday night.
“A lot of students who are queer come to Stanford because it’s one of the most LGBT-friendly places in the world,” Huntsman said. “I grew up in Utah, where it was really conservative and a lot of us come from similar backgrounds, and we feel that we every time we go home. Stanford is supposed to be a safe space for us.”
The GSC anticipated the influx of members from the community and changed rooms for its weekly meeting last Wednesday to accommodate the nearly 100 people who made it out to the council meeting.
GSC member Eduardo González-Maldonado, a developmental biology graduate student, emphasized the challenges facing the GSC as it made a decision. The GSC had previously deferred the decision whether to approve the funding for the event or not for an extra week.
“This issue walks a very fine line between the freedom of speech and the discrimination of a minority, but no one has anything but the right intentions in mind,” González-Maldonado said of the GSC members’ votes.
The GSC eventually voted 10-2 against funding SAS at the end of an extended meeting.
As a general fees group, SAS also reached out to the Undergraduate Senate for $5,000 in funding. However, the appropriations committee met with the group on Thursday night and voted not to recommend their funding application.
According to Senate Chair Ben Holston ’15, one senator voted in favor of recommending the request, while four expressed opposition and one abstained.
Despite the lack of funding, SAS’s Communicating Values Conference will still go on, according to Romea. The group will seek funding from local organizations, a process which will be in compliance with University guidelines for event funding.
In hopes of decreasing the tension between the two groups, GradQ offered to co-sponsor an event in lieu of the conference that SAS would have put together. However, SAS decided that the conference could not be replaced.
“We really do appreciate GradQ’s willingness to co-sponsor an event, and it’s an offer that we’ve accepted, but we felt that such an offer could not supplant the conference,” Romea said, explaining that reforming their conference would render their viewpoint censored. “We are very eager to co-sponsor…events in the future–[the proposal] just cannot supplant the current plans.”
Contact Catherine Zaw at czaw13 ‘at’ Stanford ‘dot’ edu.