YAF speaker sparks Senate debate

The Senate meeting on March 26 was dominated by a discussion about James O’Keefe, a speaker that the student-run political club, Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), wants to bring to campus. The senate allocated YAF all $2000 in a roll call vote, but President Luke Frigon vetoed this decision by the Senate body, declaring that he was not satisfied with the conversation.

YAF’s budget cannot be brought back to the floor until the Student Senate meeting on April 16, and it will take 2/3 of the Senators to pass it.

O’Keefe is an awarded journalist and the founder of Project Veritas, a nonprofit which aims to “investigate and expose corruption, dishonesty, self-dealing, waste, fraud, and other misconduct in both public and private institutions in order to achieve a more ethical and transparent society.”

However, there is controversy over O’Keefe’s previous arrest after wiretapping Senator Mary Landrieu’s phones.  Security would depend on the reaction of the student body, but it is not expected to be as extensive as the security for Richard Spencer’s talk, YAF Representative Wellington Baumann said. Senator Michael Mancuso cited O’Keefe’s libel conviction and demanded “a good defense why we should spend this money to hear him speak.” 

Baumann argued that the entire point of a liberal arts education was being able to hear contrary viewpoints, and that any concerns anyone had with O’Keefe would make good questions for the Q&A session after his talk. The issue of money was also raised; YAF’s national organization was willing to pay for lodging and travel for O’Keefe, but not any of O’Keefe’s speaker fee of $2000.

Andrew Fitzsimmons and Katie Troy were named as new senators and the Election amendment was ratified with no opposition.

Fly Fishing Club, GBurg TV and Lego Club were all derecognized. Secretary Kaitlyn Helmstetter ‘18 reminded club reps that they can have three unexcused absences before their club begins to face consequences.

Bomb Squad’s request for reimbursement of half the cost of their t-shirts was passed.

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