John Claybrook, Student Body President at Texas A&M University, has vetoed a bill passed by the student senate that would allow students to opt out of funding campus services if they have religious objections. Until it was revised at Wednesday night’s meeting, the bill specifically targeted the university’s GLBT Resource Center. Claybrook explained his veto in an open letter:
After much research and deliberation, I have confidently decided to veto S.B. 65-70, The Religious Funding Exemption bill. Even without the wording that specified particular groups that would be affected in the final version of this bill, the sentiment towards the bill has not changed and has caused great harm to our reputation as a student body and to the students feeling disenfranchised by the bill. [...]
Although much adjusted in its final form, the good accomplished through this bill pales in comparison to the damage done. The damage must stop today. Texas A&M students represent our core value of respect exceptionally and I’m very proud of the family at this university. Now, more than ever, is the time to show great resolve and come together, treating each other like the family that we are.
Claybrook pointed out that in addition to the bill’s negative sentiment, students do not currently have the ability to opt-out of student fees, so clarifying a process to do so “serves no purpose.”
The bill’s sponsor, Chris Woolsey, conceded, “it’s just how the democratic process works.” The senate may consider a veto override when it meets again on April 17, but the bill did not garner the two-thirds votes that would require.