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Accusations of personal biases shake SSFC

SSFC Reps Max Goldfarb and Jordan Madden had a heated disagreement over funding for the Muslim Student Association Monday night.

Image By: Jon Yoon

Two finance committee representatives accused each other of bringing personal politics into a decision on funding for the Muslim Student Association this week.

Since a dispute last week between Reps. Jordan Madden and Max Goldfarb, where each accused the other of bringing personal politics into a decision on funding for MSA, the two have resolved their differences through what Goldfarb called a “productive discussion.”

Goldfarb told The Daily Cardinal he is not pursuing a Student Judiciary case against Madden after he called for Madden’s resignation earlier in the week.

On Monday night, Madden and Goldfarb engaged in a heated debate when Goldfarb proposed eliminating MSA’s budget, on the grounds that the group was no longer upholding the eligibility requirements for student fee funding.

But Madden was skeptical of Goldfarb’s stance.

“I do start to question what the viewpoint neutrality is of this committee when we have someone here with a Trump sticker on their laptop and then people here who have been funded by a conservative student PAC to get on this committee,” Madden said at the meeting.

He was referring to fellow committee members Goldfarb and Rep. Dylan Resch. When running for SSFC last spring, both representatives received funding from the PAC Turning Point USA, a national conservative organization with chapters on campuses across the country.

“I vehemently reject these [viewpoint neutrality] allegations,” Goldfarb said in a public statement on his Facebook page. “All of my previous statements and motions are available via open records request for anyone that may doubt this assertion. What is more disturbing is the fact that the student that leveled these charges against me was himself in violation of viewpoint neutrality.”

In a statement released Wednesday, SSFC Chair Jordan Gaal said comments from Monday’s meeting potentially violated viewpoint neutrality. He also said ASM’s Student Election Commission does not restrict candidates from accepting PAC funds.

In response to Madden's support of MSA, Goldfarb argued that granting a budget to someone because you don't want to appear racist is biased.

Goldfarb’s arguments for denying MSA funding were as follows:

  1. MSA did not originally include their mentorship program in their budget presentation, which led Goldfarb to believe that the group did not have a program available to students on request
  2. He believed the group emphasized their supportive programming over their core programming, which would violate SSFC’s eligibility rules

“Rep. Madden is on the record stating that SSFC did not have the authority to zero fund MSA because it would be perceived as racist,” Goldfarb said in his post. “I harbor no such bias and my motion to zero fund the Muslim Student Association was entirely based on funding criteria in the ASM bylaws. There is overwhelming evidence that this student organization is not eligible for funding.”

Goldfarb also called for Madden’s resignation, but Madden stood by his vote.

“As Goldfarb said in the very last line of his [post], the way you leave a lasting impact is by never giving up and standing up for what you believe in,” Madden said. “So in Max Goldfarb’s words, I think I stood up for what I believed in and I didn’t back down and I’m proud of that.”

Goldfarb also alleged that Rep. Zaakir Abdul-wahid — who also voted against Goldfarb’s motion to pull funding from MSA’s next budget — acted “unethically,” since Abdul-wahid wasn’t there for the budget hearing but voted on the decision.

Each representative can ultimately decide if they are informed enough to vote, but prior to the vote Abdul-wahid said multiple times he felt he was not informed enough on the issue.

However, Abdul-wahid clarified this was because he disagreed with Goldfarb’s opinion on MSA. In the end, the body only decreased the organization’s budget by 14 percent, a move that Abdul-wahid said he was grateful for.

“When representatives are trying much too hard to make the shoe fit on a zero fund, it’s very, very unsettling for people,” Abdul-wahid said. “It could be that he genuinely thought that it didn’t add up, but that’s not my opinion and it’s a whole bag of worms to try to figure out what’s on another person’s mind. All I can tell you is that I disagreed with his argument points and luckily, they failed.”

Since the dispute, Goldfarb said that representatives needed to set aside their differences so that the body could continue to make decisions.

“Especially on my end — and I think also Rep. Madden would agree with this sentiment — it really distracts the committee from the work that we have ahead of us and there is a lot of important funding decisions to be made for the rest of the year and we don’t want to be a distraction for the rest of the committee,” Goldfarb told The Daily Cardinal.

Madden agreed, but said he will continue to be leery of PACs.

“We are able to work together and kind of see progress on [some issues we work on], but I think we’ve reached a point where we can agree to disagree about groups like Turning Point USA on the committee,” Madden said.

UPDATE Oct.23, 2017 at 1:06 a.m.: This story has been updated to include information about represetatives actions following the meeting.

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