The administration at the University of Arkansas has shut down a graduate student government’s plan to run a shuttle bus to the Washington County courthouse for students who wanted to vote in Tuesday’s election on repeal of Fayetteville’s civil rights ordinance.
Below are the letters from the student government and from the campus official that informed students of the decision.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure this out. Hate groups are backing the repeal of the civil rights ordinance because it provides some legal protections for, among others, gay people. The hate groups, with the support of Republican legislators, favor legal discrimination against gay people. Eighteen Republican legislators have sent a thinly veiled threat of retribution against the University of Arknasas on account of Chancellor David Gearhart’s remarks favorable toward the ordinance.
The administration will not risk riling the legislators further. It knows that legislators know that college students are less likely to favor legal discrimination against gay people. They don’t want to help them vote. The UA bosses know who butter their bread (though you’d think student tuition and fees counted, too.)
FROM THE GRADUATE STUDENT CONGRESS
Fayetteville, ARK. − ASG Graduate Student Congress (“GSC”) regretfully announces it will no longer be able to offer shuttle service from campus to the Washington County Courthouse during early voting for the Fayetteville special election on Monday, December 8th. GSC’s intent was to raise awareness on campus about the Fayetteville City Council Ordinance 5703, Chapter 119, known as the “Civil Rights Ordinance,” and to encourage students to participate in the election process.
On November 19, 2014, GSC passed Resolution No. 3, a resolution in support of Fayetteville’s Civil Rights Ordinance and against repeal. GSC believes this ordinance provides critical protections for graduate students who live and work off campus in Fayetteville. These protections already exist for graduate students who live and work on campus.
On November 19, 2014, GSC separately passed its Motor Voter Appropriation: December 2014 Special Election to provide shuttle bus service for early voting from campus to the Washington County Courthouse. GSC’s appropriation provided funds for shuttle service for all students, regardless of whether they intended to vote for or against repeal of the Civil Rights Ordinance. No early voting or polling location exists on campus.
On Friday, December 5, 2014, GSC received the following communication from the university’s Vice Provost for Student Affairs. The email stated that shuttle service for early voting will no longer take place due to reasons explained in the Vice Provost’s email below, addressed to Rudy Trejo, Assistant Director for Student Government Leadership.
The GSC never intended to restrict the shuttle service solely to individuals planning to vote against repeal of the ordinance. Furthermore, the decision to cancel the bus service was made without consultation of the GSC or its officers. Although the GSC disagrees with the Vice Provost’s decision, we will accept it as final. The Graduate Student Congress continues to encourage all students to participate in the election process and cast ballots in Tuesday’s special election.
Students who thought UA was a democratic institution can think again.
From: Danny Pugh
Sent: Friday, December 05, 2014 3:21 PM
To: Rudy G. Trejo
Cc: Mary L. Skinner; Lori Lynn Lander; Melissa Harwood-Rom Subject: ASG GSC “Motor Voter Appropriation Bill” Importance: High
Mr. Trejo —
The Associated Student Government Graduate Student Congress has approved legislation to fund bus service to the Washington County Courthouse in connection with the special election scheduled for this coming week. ASG has previously funded special bus service to facilitate early voting in the spirit of encouraging student participation in the electoral process, on a completely non-partisan basis. In this instance, proposed and actual communications issued by GSC or its representatives have made it clear that the funding is intended to support voting in favor of a particular side in the referendum. I have concluded that this is an impermissible use of funds that would possibly violate state law (Arkansas Code § 7-1-111(b)), which prohibits the expenditure of public funds to support or oppose a ballot measure. ASG and GSC are free to pass resolutions supporting a particular view on the campaign and to advocate for their views, but the student-fee funded charter bus service planned for next week will not take place. Normal Razorback Transit bus service serving the downtown area will continue to be available.
Daniel J. Pugh, Sr., Ph.D.
Vice Provost for Student Affairs
& Associate Professor of Higher Education
Pitiful. This is really an acknowledgment by the university that the facts have a liberal bias. This bus service was open to all. Period. But you can make an educated guess how the vote would split among UA students. So it can’t be permitted. It’s the UA equivalent of Voter ID legislation. It was adopted with a full understanding of who it would impact.
Is it too late for someone to make a private donation to ASG to provide this service? I think the money can be found.
PS — I have to laugh at news that the hate groups are demanding that the Fayetteville Council renounce the ordinance because it got help from the Human Rights Campaign and one of the founders of the Human Rights Campaign (he’s had no participation in Fayetteville events) has gotten in trouble with the law. Would this be a time to say one of the leaders of the repeal movement is a convicted felon who stole money from the state of Arkansas?