Funding Rift Leads to UNF Committee on Bias; Gay Group Protests Refusal of Student Government President to Approve Money Because of Religious Beliefs

Article excerpt

Byline: BESAR LIKMETA, The Times-Union

******************CORRECTION November 6, 2004

While the University of North Florida's Student Government constitution has a policy against discrimination based on sexual orientation, there is no such university policy. Because of a reporter's error, this information was incorrect Oct. 28 in a story on Page B-1 about student government funding for a campus gay and lesbian group.

******************CORRECTION November 19, 2004

University of North Florida Student Government President Jerry Watterson declined to sign only one funding bill sent to him from the student gay and lesbian group Pride. Because of a reporter's error, the number of unsigned bills was incorrect in a story on Page B-1 Oct. 28.

Also, there is nothing to indicate funding took any longer to be disbursed for Pride's request than for funding bills that were submitted at the same time but signed.

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A University of North Florida committee to monitor bias and discrimination claims is being created over the repeated refusal of the university's Student Government president to approve funding for a campus gay and lesbian group because of his religious beliefs against homosexuality.

Although the university's Student Senate has OK'd four funding requests from gay and lesbian group Pride and sent them to Student Government President Jerry Watterson for his signature, Watterson has signed just one -- which was for travel expenses.

The lack of a signature meant the measures eventually passed by default, but it made the funding process take longer and made it harder for the group to receive funding on time.

Pride members called the move discriminatory, an assertion Watterson denied.

"I am not discriminating against any student or group," Watterson said. "I am just taking a stand against homosexuality. I believe that somebody has to do it."

Watterson, who described himself as a conservative Christian, said the bills he did not sign were against his religious belief. …