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Student speaks out against possible transphobic behavior by the Student Activities Commission

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After his funding request was denied, a student insinuated that SAC’s actions could come off as transphobic.

A student Wednesday alleged possible transphobic actions by the Student Activities Commission (SAC) during Student Senate’s “student speak-out.”

Moss Nash, a sophomore, applied for funding from SAC to bring an LGBTQ advocate and artist Alok Vaid Menon, who is gender non-conforming, to speak on campus. His request was denied for reasons which Nash said were unreasonable.

“We were denied funding, not due to a lack of effort on our part or due to a lack of event value to the campus as a whole, but because the Student Appropriation(sic) Committee was confused by their own application,” Nash said.

Multiple events had been listed on Nash’s funding request from the Cutler Council, for which Nash serves as secretary.

The SAC requires student organizations to list multiple events their organization intends to host on the same funding request if the request is for semesterly funding rather than bi-weekly. Nash said he and another member of the Cutler Council both listed separate events and doing so caused their funding to be denied.

“We were asked to schedule our SAC interview together, which we did. In fact, we followed all of the directions SAC gave us. Yet, we were denied, because our application was ‘too confusing,’ Nash said in his letter.

“Beyond that, we were not given any reason why funding for our events was denied.”

Student Senate President Maddie Sloat directed Nash to give his contact information to Nicolas Paredes, the Assistant Chief of Staff and Historian for the senate so he could pass that information along to SAC representatives.

“This is a very serious issue that a lot of members of Student Senate are really concerned about,” Paredes said. “A lot of members of senate are very serious about working with students like Moss to make sure that we are not leaving them alone.”

Nash said after the meeting that he did not want to label SAC as transphobic, but did want the issue resolved.

“I’m not saying that SAC and the people in SAC are transphobic, it’s just that it kind of came off as a little discriminatory,” Nash said.  “I’ve had to keep applying and keep getting push back for these strange reasons. It’s just been a lot of back and forth and a lot of wasting time for a lot of people. I think bringing it to a larger group’s attention might get more results or input from other members of Student Senate.”

Zach Whetstone, the commissioner for the SAC, gave his response in an interview Thursday evening.

“We respect Moss for coming to the meeting and voicing his opinion,” Whetstone said. “We value all feedback, so it was great that he came to the meeting.”

Whetstone said Nash’s event had been given partial funding, but not the full funding which he had asked for. Regarding the apparent confusion in paperwork, Whetstone said the SAC is working to improve its system.

“We are working to improve our processes, as well as our funding cycles,” Whetstone said. “Semesterly funding is a new thing, so we’re still working out some kinks in the system. As with anything new there’s going to be some difficulties. And of course, we only have a set amount of funding, so it is up to us to make difficult choices. Our goal with funding is to give everything, and if we could fund everything and every budget we absolutely would.”

Nash’s case is not yet closed. Whetstone said the SAC would be working with the LGBT commission in Student Senate, as well as the Cutler Council, to try to find other methods of funding the event in question.

“I think this is a good opportunity to talk about the need for increased student funding,” Whetstone said. “SAC hasn’t had an increase in ten years, and so unfortunately what happens is we can’t fund every event, and we can’t fully fund every event that we want to.”

Nash’s student speak-out opened Wednesday’s meeting of the Student Senate. The remainder of the meeting consisted of presentations from the Ohio University Women’s Center and the Board of Trustees. Student Senate also passed a single resolution to pay for pizza as a reward for the winners of a canned food drive.

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