Senate approves October student organization funding, grants $7,135.53 for controversial speaker event  

Skyler Dunn and Ainsley Platt

The Student Government Association approved the October student organization funding requests that were presented by the Financial Affairs Committee at the Sept. 29 Senate meeting.  

A total of $63,111 was allocated to 19 student organizations.  

The decision to pass the budget came after multiple debates over granting $7,135.53 in funding to the student organization Young Americans for Freedom in order to bring conservative commentator Matt Walsh to speak on campus via his “What is a Woman?” tour. The highest amount of funding an organization can receive is $7,500. 

YAF applied for funding from the Financial Affairs Committee specifically for the Walsh event, according to senators who spoke up during the special Senate session. Walsh is a conservative political commentator who has expressed strong controversial viewpoints on gender.  

While most senators eventually voted in favor of approving the full budget, it came after two motions: the first to strike the YAF funding specifically, which was introduced by Sen. Viprav Raju, and the second to send the entire budget back to the FAC for consideration, which was introduced by Sen. Tyler Tannehill. Both went to a roll call vote and were voted down. The results of the roll call vote are at the bottom of this article. 

Sen. Elizabeth Prophet, who represents the School of Social Work, was one of the senators to question whether the SGA should provide the funds.  

“We need to reconsider the implications of what it says about our Student Government Association to allow an event and a speaker of this caliber to come and receive funding specifically from us,” Prophet said during debate for one of the proposed amendments. 

Lauryn Parker, the SGA’s vice president of financial affairs, said that the FAC’s primarily responsibility is to determine if an organization is eligible for funding, and does not consider her political beliefs or factors other than what is written in the FAC guidelines. 

“As Vice President for Financial Affairs, I simply make sure that those [SOURCE-registered] student organizations that are requesting funding are given the opportunity to receive the funding if they’re eligible,” Parker said. 

Parker referred all questions about the specifics of the approvals process to the FAC’s page on the SGA website. 

Senator Tyler Tannehill said that approving or not approving the YAF funding was not about “ideology.” 

“I just think that it’s a matter of misinformation and a lot of things going with that … it would be a great misstep if we don’t evaluate the details closer and hastily rushing this,” Tannehill said during debate. 

After the special session, Tannehill said that he was glad he wasn’t the only senator to speak up with concerns over the YAF funding. 

“Matt Walsh is a problematic person. And that’s just to put it lightly,” Tannehill said. “That’s an understatement. … He is someone who perpetuates hateful ideas that goes contrary to the Capstone values and what should be regarded as the pursuit of knowledge.” 

Senators weren’t the only ones concerned about the YAF funding. Many students showed up at the special Senate session to voice their opposition about Walsh’s speaking event, which ranged from worries of increased harassment towards transgender members of the UA community to concerns about racism.  

Charlie Brinklie, a senior majoring in social work, was one of those students.  

In a speech to the Senate in opposition to the YAF funding for the Walsh event, Brinklie cited the Princeton Review’s 2022 Student Survey that found that the University ranked 7th in their list of the most LGBTQ-unfriendly schools, adding that “their experience as a trans person on campus attests to this.” 

“I’m arguing that this request for FAC funding for Matt Walsh and his documentary should be denied on the grounds that it not only does not serve the student body, but it further harms already marginalized trans students,” Brinklie said. 

Brinklie said after the special session that they were “very proud of the senators who seemed to like, heed the student voices that were present today.”  

Among the several students, the Queer Student Association sent a representative to give a formal statement. The representative did not state their name when they spoke. 

“We see that the SGA has great potential in fostering diversity, equity and inclusion,” the statement read. “Such funding will be contrary to that mission and will be a grave injustice to all transgender students at the Capstone.” 

Tyler Tannehill is the Director of Community Partnership for the Queer Student Association.  

Alex Gravlee contributed to the reporting for this piece. 


Name  School  Vote on amendment to strike YAF funding from budget  Vote to send full budget back to committee for consideration 
Sam Akins  A&S  Nay  Nay 
Maria Derisavi  A&S  Yay  Nay 
Hannah Ford  A&S  Yay  Yay 
Olivia Frazier  A&S  Nay  Nay 
Taryn Geiger  A&S  N/A  N/A 
Xzarria Peterson  A&S  Yay  Yay 
John Richardson  A&S  Nay  Nay 
Tyler Tannehill  A&S  Yay  Yay 
Eleanor Wiltanger  A&S  Nay  Nay 
Thomas Ashton  Culverhouse  Nay  Nay 
Nicholas Boyd  Culverhouse  Nay  Nay 
Athena Critides  Culverhouse  Nay  Nay 
Judson Fair  Culverhouse  Nay  Nay 
John Foster  Culverhouse  Nay  Nay 
Myles Gollop  Culverhouse  Nay  Nay 
Hunter Howell  Culverhouse  Nay  Nay 
John McLendon  Culverhouse  Nay  Nay 
CJ Pearson  Culverhouse  Nay  Nay 
Lexi Sims  Culverhouse  Nay  Nay 
Lucas Weldon  Culverhouse  Nay  Nay 
Tyler Zuspann  Culverhouse  N/A  N/A 
Jenna Berkower  C&IS  Nay  Nay 
Ally-Anna Outlaw  C&IS  Nay  Nay 
Morgan Patrick  C&IS  Nay  Nay 
Seth Hudson  Education  Nay  Nay 
Jacob Rohleder  Education  N/A  N/A 
Clay Bruce  Engineering  Yay  Yay 
Alexander East  Engineering  N/A  N/A 
Ryan LaJoye  Engineering  Nay  Nay 
Kiley Price  Engineering  Yay  Yay 
Jackson Rudder  Engineering  Nay  Nay 
Bryant Segars  Engineering  Nay  Nay 
Karina Collins  HES  Yay  Yay 
Emma Fraley  HES  Nay  Nay 
Jolie Golden  HES  Nay  Nay 
Kaleigh Shaw  Nursing  Yay  Yay 
Sarah Kate Smalley  Nursing  Nay  Nay 
Sarah Pierce  SW  N/A  N/A 
Elizabeth Prophet  SW  Yay  Yay 
Jennifer Baggett  Graduate  Yay  Nay 
Noel Keeney  Graduate  Yay  Yay 
Tolulope Kolapo  Graduate  Yay  Yay 
Rebecca Lutonsky  Graduate  Nay  Nay 
Viprav Raju  Graduate  Yay  Yay 
Emilia Stuart  Graduate  Nay  Nay 
John Dawson  Law  Nay  Nay 
Bobby Weinacker  Law  N/A  N/A