The Student Activities Council's executive board voted yesterday not to rescind funding for the Progressive Activist Network in the aftermath of a controversial protest Friday, as it had previously considered doing. The debate over the political nature of the group's activities, however, is far from resolved. After about 45 minutes of discussion during the course of a 2 1/2-hour meeting, the board decided not to ask PAN to give back $200 in funding allocated for a protest against police brutality held Friday on College Green, according to SAC Chairperson Katie Cooper, a College senior. SAC allocated money for the event, which drew a sparse crowd of about 20 people, with the condition that participants not discuss the controversial case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a journalist sitting on death row for the 1982 murder of a police officer. Against SAC's orders, however, Pam Africa, a representative of the Friends of Mumia organization, spoke at the event and mentioned the Abu-Jamal case. Representatives of other student groups under the SAC umbrella complained that the rally -- which many felt violated SAC's rules against financing "political" organizations -- had received the $200 in funding, and several suggested that SAC ask for the money to be returned. At last night's meeting, however, the nine-member board voted that the event was not political and that the funding should not be rescinded. "SAC's attempt to edit the demonstration because of beliefs that its nature violated SAC funding guidelines was a misinterpretation of those guidelines by the SAC Executive Board," Cooper said in a statement. "The SAC Executive Board strongly supports its member groups' right to free speech and in no way intends to violate this right when making funding decisions." Cooper, who used to be a member of PAN herself, said that no one on the board voted to rescind the funding, but there were a few abstentions. SAC allocated $3,346 to PAN for the year, most of which goes toward the production of the organization's magazine. SAC's rules prohibit it from giving funding to any group espousing a political message. Neither the College Democrats nor the College Republicans receives SAC funding. In addition, the body's general membership voted in 1995 to cut funding for The Red and Blue magazine due to concerns over its political content, though the funding was restored a few months later. Members of PAN insisted that their protest Friday did not fall under the definition of a "political" act. "We were not trying to endorse any candidate or any parties nor were we trying to influence legislation," PAN member and Engineering junior Melissa Pfeffer said. "We were merely raising awareness about police brutality." The debate may not be over yet, though. At next Wednesday's meeting of SAC's general membership -- composed of one representative from each of SAC's approximately 150 groups -- SAC may make a motion to ask for the $200 back. Additionally, several SAC members have expressed concerns over PAN's actions, Cooper said. "It is a sticky situation," Cooper said of funding decisions for events that may be interpreted as political. "There may be a backlash."Comments powered by Disqus
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