University money that the College Democrats at Ohio State received to help them with a trip to Washington, D.C., has the OSU College Republicans lashing out.
OSU College Republicans Chairwoman Meagan Cyrus is calling foul on College Democrats for receiving $500 from the Undergraduate Student Government’s student organization funding.
The money that the College Democrats received is expected to help pay for metro passes for the 25 students attending a trip to Washington, D.C., from March 19 through 23.
Cyrus has circulated e-mails and said on the College Republicans’ social media sites that “OSU College Dems get bill passed for student government handout of over $500 to fund a trip to DC to ‘tour monuments.'” She then pleads for OSU College Republicans to donate to “help stop outrageous liberal activities like this!”
USG President Micah Kamrass explained that the USG Senate gets about $40,000 dollars a year to give out to student organizations for student activity funding. This money is part of the allocation the Senate receives from the Student Activity Fee that is built in to all student’s tuition money.
“Tuition is already being raised and if my money is not being used to benefit me at all, but just certain groups of students, like for subway passes, then I’m obviously upset,” said Joe Burke, a third-year in political science and philosophy.
Any student organization can apply to receive USG money.
“Our senate does a very thorough job of making sure every dollar they commit to a student organization is worthwhile,” Kamrass said. “I think they spent their time doing their homework on this one and made sure it is a worthwhile event.”
The bill passed the Senate with a tally of 23-10-5.
“(College Democrats) went through Senate process where they met with our budget and finance committee and had that approved,” Kamrass said. “It then went through our Senate and ended up getting that approved on Wednesday.”
Kamrass said he does plan on signing the bill, making it official.
“We spoke to senators and went through the normal process and made the same case that any other student organization would make,” said Matt Caffrey, College Democrats president.
Cyrus said she believes the bill’s passing was fundamentally wrong, since the money set aside for student organizations is meant for activities that the entire student body can participate in.
“We just thought of it as a non-educational trip that clearly had a partisan stance,” Cyrus said. “We’ve seen USG funding partisan, particularly with them, events over and over, and it’s something we want to bring to the student body’s attention.”
Kip Shoemaker, a fourth-year in agricultural business and applied economics did not agree with Cyrus.
“If USG passed it, and it’s for educational purposes, I agree with it, but I feel that other organizations should have the same opportunities,” Shoemaker said.
Caffrey said the College Democrats have made it clear for several weeks that they were planning a trip to Washington, D.C., and anyone from the student body is invited to join, not just members of the College Democrats. He also said the purpose of the trip is to build leadership skills and educate students.
“The Republicans take these partisan trips that are obviously exclusive to our members and they say College Dems are open to any student at the university, but obviously the trip is specifically for College Democrats and for Democrats in general,” Cyrus said. “(They’ll) be networking with Democrats and going and looking at monuments in D.C. That’s not something that’s open to the university.”
Kamrass said he disagreed that the trip is partisan. He said the Senate looks into the fairness and legality of bills before voting on them.
“It seems like the College Republicans may be upset because they think that the Student Activity Fee money is going to a group that has an interest different from theirs, but the College Republicans are certainly eligible to receive USG funding, just as the College Democrats did,” Kamrass said.
Kamrass said the USG does not favor either the College Democrats or the College Republicans. He said USG has given funds to many campus organizations that have opposing viewpoints.
“If anything, we helped set a precedent that political organizations are student organizations like any other and should be eligible for USG funding and that helps the College Republicans,” Caffrey said. “So I really just don’t understand how they can be upset about the situation and I think it’s incredibly inappropriate for them to attempt to fundraise off of it and to vilify us.”