Carolinian – Campus News
Issue: 3/4/02

PRIDE under siege
By Joe Wilbur and John Ayers

This week saw another explosion in the battle over UNCG Pride’s Black History Month display in the Jackson Library – and the group may now be fighting for its life.

At this week’s Student Government meeting junior Jason Crawford suggested cutting PRIDE’s budget because of the group’s political views and work and actions. The budget slash, while unlikely, is a distinct possibility.

“To the best of my knowledge, we can’t actually cut their budget,” said Chris Young, SGA’s finance chair. “But what could happen is that the SGA’s membership could decide they shouldn’t have a budget next year.”

According to Young it isn’t an option SGA is likely to take – but it could happen, if delegates decide the group its budgeted money or is a detriment to the community. As a budgeted organization PRIDE, like many other student groups, receives money from student fees to operate. This, said Crawford in a letter posted to the SGA list serve, is why PRIDE’s behavior is unacceptable.

“Students should not be forced to pay money to a select few that deliberately seek to offend them,” said Crawford. “Because of the way SGA operates and the way PRIDE has behaved, this is what is happening now.”

Crawford’s letter accused the group of hiding behind gay rights to pursue a radical left wing agenda, including anti-war marches and antigovernment forums.

According to PRIDE Crawford’s opposition is just the next stage in a personal vendetta. The group said Crawford has been needling the group since last year – sending letters accusing the group of pedophilia and sexual perversion.

“Personally, I think it’s his own vendetta,” said Holland. “I think he’ll pursue it a little bit, but he’s just going to make himself look like a jerk.”

Holland said the letters came in response to PRIDE’s work last year to persuade the University to add a sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policy. The proposition was approved last September.

“[Crawford] had seen the flyers for the non-discrimination policy and he wrote us a letter. It was ver y condescending and was about how we were insane pedophiles,” said PRIDE’s SGA delegate Melissa Holland.

Now, said PRIDE members, he’s looking to use SGA to hit the group where it will hurt most – in the pocket.

“He was so dead-set on taking us to the SGA Legislative Board,” said Holland. “But he’s gonna have a fight. He doesn’t realize the fight he’s gonna have.”

Holland said she had just announced plans for a weeklong PRIDE celebration in April when Crawford spoke up at SGA.

“I was very angry that he would call PRIDE out,” said Holland. “I had just announced PRIDE week and right after that he began talking about the library display and cutting our funds.”

Though angry, PRIDE members said they were undaunted by Crawford’s threat.

“I know nothing can come of this,” said Nikki Mintz, PRIDE president. “I don’t know anybody in SGA in their right mind that would cut our funding.”

“He can gather any petition he wants,” said Mintz. Now that we have a non-discrimination policy, we can slap it on the Chancellor’s back and say, ‘Deal with this’.”

According to PRIDE most students don’t have a problem with the display in the first place.

“I think maybe 15% of the campus doesn’t like it,” said Holland

Many students agreed.

“I don’t see what the big deal was about the display,” said Denicia Morrow, senior. “They have a right to use student fees as much as anyone else,”

I don’t think it’s fair that just because you don’t agree with what [PRIDE was] doing they can’t get money,” said Morrow. “They were just bringing attention to one aspect of Black History Month.”

“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Tony Grims, junior. “[PRIDE has] just as big a right to get money as anyone else. I think it’s a destructive act to set any budget cut, just because you don’t agree with it.”

“I think that’s stupid,” said Lauren Hancock, sophomore. “I think they should be able to put displays out. [The Black History Month display] didn’t bother me at all.”

“Everybody has the right to say whatever they want,” said Hancock. “They’re not hurting anybody.”

Many students rejected the idea advanced by some last week that the display somehow detracted from Black History Month.

“Black History Month has been celebrated a long time,” said Hancock. “Gay pride hasn’t been that focused on. They can both be celebrated.”

I come through [the library] every day,” said Scoop Harris, senior. “[The display] didn’t offend me.”

“It’s wrong,” said Harris of the possible move to cut PRIDE’s funding. “It takes away from their First Amendment rights. To cut their funding would be bigoted.”

“If people get offended because of sexual preference and it’s Black History Month and blacks are offended, then they’re discriminating against their own people,” said Sharita Taylor, junior. “That’s not right.”

[Carolinian readers can see Jason Crawford’s letter in the Letters to the Editor section]