The simmering dispute between Turks and Armenians exploded on the floor of the last monthly meeting of the Student Activities Council last night. For decades, Armenians have claimed that Turks massacred millions of Armenians during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. That controversy spilled into the final portion of the meeting, which was devoted to challenging SAC groups' budgets for next year. When the name of the Armenian Club was read, Turkish Students Association's SAC representative Cenk Uygur, began grilling the leader of the Armenian group about his group's activities. But SAC members dismissed the issue from the floor, overwhelmingly voting not to overturn the Armenian Club's budget of $228 and uncharacteristically applauding after the results were announced. During the debate, Uygur pointed to the Armenian Club's request and allocation of funds for purposes such as office supplies, stamps and phone charges, with none allocated for "other programs." He then asked the group's representative what activities the group is involved in. "What are they spending [their budget] on?" Uygur said. "Everything they do is political." The Council's rules prohibit the use of SAC funds for political reasons. He pointed to protests held during the recent visit of Turkish President Turgut Ozal to the University, in which many Armenian students participated. But Zaven Kalayjian, the Armenian Club's president, denied such charges, saying that the group participates in several activities, many of which involve the Philadelphia Armenian community. He said that much of the group's SAC funding goes to publicizing these joint programs. Kalayjian also lamented the fact that the historical battle was brought to the SAC floor. "Unfortunately, what transpired tonight was a result of a long history of enmity between the Armenians and the Turks," he said. "What we're fighting for is the recognition of history. It'll be an issue as long as there are Armenians and Turks." Newly elected SAC Chairperson Dave Wessels said last night that the dispute in budgets should be addressed by SAC, but added that the steering committee should be the group to investigate. "I don't think its appropriate for the SAC floor, but it's definitely appropriate for SAC," he said. "I think SAC is the place for people to realize that there can be communication between groups." During the other portions of the meeting, SAC listened to appeals of groups wanting to increase their allocations for next year, and it also approved the budgets of groups receiving funds. Wessels said last night he was concerned representatives were voting to cut discussion short and hurry through the appeals process, apparently in an effort to shorten the meeting. "It's so important to me that people listen to the appeals," he said. "They shouldn't just vote not to hear anything."Comments powered by Disqus
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