SGA passes resolution against Kansas state Senate bill

The Wichita State Student Government Association debated and passed a resolution proposed by SGA President Matthew Conklin at a meeting Wednesday.

The resolution­­—a commitment to support or show where SGA stands—opposed Kansas Senate Bill 175, which is working its way through the Kansas state Congress.

Senate Bill 175 denies Kansas universities the ability to enforce any policies or rules against religious student associations that will limit those groups’ funding or benefits available to other associations.

The bill protects religious student associations and grants them the right to choose and maintain members and leaders, depending on their religious beliefs and conduct, without being penalized.

Conklin opened the discussion by defining what he said the bill meant.

“This bill would prevent universities from dissolving an organization that facilitates discrimination and they would still receive organizational funding,” Conklin said.

Conklin argued that an association at public university, which is funded by taxpayers, “should not go to fund discrimination.”

The resolution then went for questions and debate.

Dalton Glasscock, chief of staff, asked Conklin what “he hoped to achieve with the resolution.”

Conklin said the senate “is responsible to express the will of the students,” and the resolution sends a message to state Congress.

The resolution was met with equal support and opposition.

Jessica Packard, senator and committee chair of campus issues,  raised concerns of senators not knowing what Kansas Senate Bill 175 and the resolution are (the bill was posted the day of the meeting) and not being able to reach out to other students.

“I haven’t had time to speak to anyone,” Packard said.

Senator Dalton Stanfield supported the resolution.

 “Why does the Senate bill specify religious student organizations? Why should they be singled out and given protected rights?” Stanfield asked.

Those opposed to the resolution again cited that their job is to represent the student body and argued to table (wait to vote on) the resolution until next week.

Senator Matthew Brinkmeyer countered these points.

“Our legislator hasn’t come in to ask our opinions,” Brinkmeyer said. “I don’t think it is responsible to table the resolution.”

Senator Sarah Nelson opposed passing the resolution. Nelson gave the argument and the basis for the Senate bill.

“This bill gives religious organizations the right to choose who represents them,” Nelson said.  “It protects religious organizations and controls who speaks for them.”

A reason for the bill is to prevent a person from joining a religious organization, who doesn’t follow the religious organization’s beliefs or code of conduct, and later hurt the organization.

The Senate debated back and forth and eventually voted on the resolution. It passed 13-11.

SGA continued business and passed two funding bills.

SGA will meet again at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, in the Rhattigan Student Center.