Cameron Morgan, Chattanooga, Tenn. — On CNN’s homepage, buried far down in the World section, without a photo or any emphasis, rests the headline, “Ugandan tabloid prints list of ‘homosexuals.’” In the article, it highlights recent legislation which has passed in Uganda making homosexuality punishable by life in prison.
A few hours away, in his office, Knoxville senator Stacey Campfield (R) sits, having just proposed bills (SB1608, SB2493) which highlight club attendance as the marker of club relevancy and make attendance necessary to qualify it for funding through student fees.
If you aren’t seeing the parallels between these two acts, let me mention that the Tennessee legislation comes as a direct reaction to UTK’s proposed Sex Week, which aimed to educate the student body about safe sex practices, among other issues related to sexual activity.
Not to mention that Senator Campfield has a history of targeting persons who don’t operate in the binary through his 2012 bill, coined the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The bill would have made it mandatory for a school to alert a parent if their child was suspected as gay.
Proposed solutions to track student membership include asking students to record and report the names of all students involved through electronic programs like OrgSync.
As it relates to UTC, if made to publish the names of their members to prove attendance in order to get the funding to continue operating, more controversial clubs would be targeted and we could potentially open ourselves up to “hit-lists” on campus.
So you are beginning to see why this legislation is problematic. So you see, if this bill is passed, our student fees could be used to weed out any minority or challenging idea against the majority opinion (those clubs with the most attendance), effectively attacking our own community of students and thinkers.
If we shall be made to achieve anything, let us at least achieve some common agreement that college is about being challenged in order to find out what you think and find those people who think like you.
If you’re interested in signing the petition, I strongly encourage you to: sga.utk.edu/petition/public/.