Texas A&M Student Senate Approves Bill Allowing Students To Opt Out Of Mandatory Fees They Are Religiously Or Morally Opposed To
The Texas A&M Student Senate voted Wednesday night in approval of the “Religious Funding Exemption Bill”, which recommends to university leaders that students be able to opt out of mandatory fees that fund campus organizations they are morally or religiously opposed to. The vote was 35 to 28.
The bill was originally drafted by student Chris Woolsey as the “GLBT Funding Opt-Out Bill”. “GLBT” refers to Texas A&M’s Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Resource Center. GLBT provides health and counseling services to students who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered and, according to a university spokesperson, receives approximately $100,000 annually in funding from student fees. The bill was renamed “Religious Funding Exemption Bill” and stripped of all references to GLBT before Wednesday’s vote. Supporters say the change was intended to protect students’ religious rights without singling out GLBT, but opponents say the changes were cosmetic and merely part of a long history of discrimination against non-heterosexuals at Texas A&M.
The approved bill is non-binding and advisory in nature. It will now be reviewed by A&M’s student body president, John Claybrook. Claybrook has the option of vetoing the measure. If he approves it, students wishing to opt out would receive a refund of any money that would have gone to an organization they feel they cannot in good conscience help fund.