The 51st legislature of Student Government Association (SGA) overruled College Council’s (CC) decision to deny the Southern Poverty Law Center at Emory (SPLC) a Non-Recommended for Funding (NRF) charter Monday evening.
The CC decision was overruled with eight legislators voting yes and two abstaining. No bills were proposed during the meeting.
CC denied SPLC at Emory’s request for a NRF charter due to a lack of clarity on the organization’s mission and function on campus according to SPLC Representative Charlotte Selton (20C). NRF charters are granted to organizations without a need for funding, according to CC’s website.
“It seemed really, really broad to us,” CC Vice President of Administration Radhika Kadakia (20C) said. “There was no facts. They didn’t seem to have a clear mission.”
Selton introduced the club’s mission as “[to] combat hate, intolerance, and injustice on campus and in Georgia.” SPLC provides training and education on advocating for civic issues, Selton said. According to SPLC’s presentation, SPLC has hosted events on campus that include “a webinar on challenging neo-Nazi views on campus, training on confronting everyday bigotry, lecture series on immigration justice and [teaching students] how to contact [government] representatives.”
Selton also emphasized that the club was affiliated with Emory’s Center for Ethics, which would financially support the club if SPLC received a NRF charter from CC.
“We’re not seeking funding from College Council,” Selton said.
Kadakia said other clubs such as Nourish International, Refugee Revive and She’s the First serve a similar function of teaching members how to advocate for their causes and spread awareness for social issues. Therefore, CC did not see a need to charter another organization that has a similar mission.
“If there are two clubs that are do the same thing, we look to have clubs that work together towards that goal because [there is] strength in numbers,” Kadakia said. “Might as well bring it together because that way it a bigger club that can reach more people in the Emory community.”
Selton explained during the presentation that SPLC is different from other clubs because it is not service-based, fundraising, politically-oriented or an international organization.
BBA Representative Jacob Spitzer (19B) noted that the issue of duplicity among clubs should not be considered because SPLC was not asking for financial support.
“Everybody keeps saying that there is a lot of overlap with other clubs. Well, if there is then they won’t have a big presence, then so what?” Spitzer said. “If there is an overlap with other clubs and they do it better, then that’s a good thing for Emory.”
Sophomore Representative Johnna Gadomski (20C) responded by saying that whether they get the charter isn’t all that matters.
“I respect that College Council has standards that they maintain for clubs on campus to the betterment of our community, and I think that what we’re looking at here is whether this club meets those standards,” Gadomski said.
Spitzer said that granting a charter would have little to no consequences.
“They’ll go into a room and nobody will show up,” Spitzer responded. “Why does that affect me? The downside is very little.”
Freshman Representative Austin Graham (21C) responded by saying that the Center for Ethics’s support for the club is a promising sign.
“If they are affiliated with the Center for Ethics, they have to already meet a certain standard to get there because we have a great Center for Ethics,” Graham said. “We should give them a chance to exceed our expectations for them as an NRF-chartered organization.”
When SGA asked whether SPLC would work with other clubs, Selton responded that SPLC would collaborate with other clubs and teach club members how they can productively advocate for different issues.
“Especially for the clubs that do service, we absolutely think that that would be a good part of getting engaged in the community,” Selton said. “We were hoping to direct students after they get trained or if they express a passion towards those clubs to actually do service.”
Emory Student Nurses Association (ESNA) Representative Stefka Mentor (18N) and Freshman Representative Alice Bodge (21C) abstained from voting, citing insufficient information through the presentation to vote on the issue.
Mentor told the Wheel that SPLC’s mission was unclear, and she wants to help decrease redundancy of clubs on campus.
“It seems that there are a lot of clubs doing the same thing. It’s very possible that they are doing something different, and in this presentation I didn’t learn enough about it,” Mentor said. “Based on the information I received in this short presentation, I just didn’t see the purpose in them being chartered.”
Bodge echoed Mentor’s sentiments and told the Wheel that she wanted more information about SPLC before she could feel comfortable voting.
“I wish we had more clarity, and I personally didn’t feel comfortable voting because I felt like there’s a lot of social justice groups on campus, and it’s fantastic that we have more coming, but I just feel like it wasn’t fleshed out enough,” Bodge said.