The special language subcommittee of the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee had been expected to take up a proposal this morning from several legislators to strip funding from a department at Arkansas Tech that works with diversity issues because of unhappiness about Sex on the Lawn, an annual sex education event by Spectrum, a student group that listed the diversity and inclusion department as a sponsor.
It appears the matter has delayed to a meeting next week, sowing confusion among Tech students and others who’d planned to be on hand at 8 a.m. this morning to protest legislative incursion into academic freedom. But trickiness could be afoot. The matter might come up in the regular Joint Budget meeting, a legislative staffer said. About three dozen Tech students are on hand this morning to be heard if the matter does come up.
Reps. Trevor Drown and Mary Bentley are leaders of the effort to strip funding from the Department of Diversity and Inclusion. They weren’t happy that sex toys were displayed at the informational event. It seems likely the outreach to LGBT students also contributed to their unhappiness. The Department of Diversity and Inclusion provided no money in support of the annual event, consisting of students with tabletop displays and pamphlets in a public area.
Dr. Robin Bowen, Tech president, has defended the work of the department, whose outreach includes disabled students, minorities and others. She has said further in recent days that legislative interference with academic efforts could cost the university its national accreditation.
The amendment to strip funding doesn’t appear on the committee agenda this morning. The Courier reported that another amendment, of unspecified reach, had appeared for a time on the agenda, sponsored by Sen. Greg Standridge of Russellville. But it no longer appears.
“That was just something prepared if we decided to go a different direction, and I told them do not run that, I just told them to hang on to it,” Standridge said.
“It was not OK-d by me to release in joint budget so I’m going to have to find out what’s going on,” Standridge said.
What’s going on is clear. Sex-obsessed legislators are trying to bully a university into accepting their view of what is acceptable to be discussed by adult students on the campus of an institution of higher learning. They also have a deep animus toward the already marginalized, which is exactly why you need a Department of Diversity and Inclusion in the first place.
Drown and Bentley claim “constituents” are in an uproar about Sex on the Lawn. KTHV reported on the dispute last night and found someone closer to home with a different view.
Russellville Mayor, Randal Horton, said he hasn’t received one complaint, “at this moment I’ve had not one negative email or phone call.”
He said he feels Arkansas Tech shouldn’t be singled out like this, “if this is such a good idea let’s apply it to every University.”