At Tuesday’s Undergraduate Student Government meeting, the Senate led an open discussion regarding the recent bylaw amendment to USG’s diversity fund, which is currently being authored by Sen. Michaela Murphy and former USG official Mai Mizuno.
Before the discussion, co-Chief Diversity Officer Milton Dimas spoke about a solidarity march this Thursday and how it was happening due to the “many, many problems in this institution” and the country at large.
Dimas concluded his speech by addressing an upcoming event featuring conservative commentator Ben Shapiro. He called Shapiro’s rhetoric “hate speech” and “bigotry,” and affirmed the student body’s right to speak out.
“Many of us are unhappy about [Shapiro’s speech], and I understand,” Dimas said. “I don’t think that we should remain silent during this time. I believe we should very much be using our resources and the people we know in order to bring about this change.”
Regarding the diversity fund, Sen. Shayan Kohanteb addressed Dimas’ comments on Shapiro’s event, which received funding from USG. Kohanteb said that USG funds should not be used for political groups.
His point prompted a discussion about whether or not cultural organizations and the issues they promote can be depoliticized.
Sen. Max Geschwind said that he had no problem with political groups receiving funding as long as the process is “fair and equal.” He referenced groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine and Trojans for Israel, who he says should receive an equal share of the diversity fund.
Several members of the audience expressed their opinions that the interests of cultural organizations are inherently political, and that diminishing their political nature would devalue the organizations’ purposes.
Rosa Wang, executive co-director of the Student Assembly for Gender Empowerment, defended the inherently political nature of their organization. She and others also referred to Shapiro’s views as hateful. Wang went on to call the use of a student-funded account for the event as “blasphemy.”
“I never asked to be marginalized,” Wang said. “The people who attribute those values to me have made my body political, have made me have to fight for myself, fight for my existence.”