Love Saxa claims that university misallocated donations

February 16, 2018

Love Saxa, a student group that advocates for traditional relationships, has accused the university of deliberately misappropriating at least $400 in donations meant for their organization. The club’s legal counsel, the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), described a sustained campaign against the organization on campus in a Feb.1 letter to President DeGioia.

The ADF claimed in the letter that the Center for Student Engagement allocated donations meant for Love Saxa to the LGBTQ Resource Center and the acapella group the Saxatones, and withheld the group’s proceeds from a November Phonathon.

The ADF is a Christian nonprofit that provides legal advocacy on conservative issues. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated the organization an anti-LGBTQ hate group.

Love Saxa describes its mission on its website as “promoting healthy relationships and sexual integrity at Georgetown University.” Last semester, students petitioned for the university to defund Love Saxa due to the group’s opposition to same-sex marriage, which they said violated university tolerance standards. The Student Activities Commission declined to sanction the organization in an 8-4 vote in a Nov. 3 hearing.

The first claims of misappropriation of funds came on Jan. 27, when Love Saxa posted a screenshot of an email from a donor on their Facebook page. The donor, whose name was redacted, wrote that he received an incorrect gift receipt from the university after giving money to Love Saxa.

“It says I gave $50.00 to LGBTQ Resource Center Reserve,” the donor wrote. “I thought my donation was going to your organization. Do you know anything about this?”

Love Saxa asked other donors to inform the group of their donations, so students could follow up with the university. They also contacted the ADF’s Center for Academic Freedom. A Feb. 1 press release by the ADF includes photographs of the donor’s original check for Love Saxa, and the gift receipt issued by the university showing an allocation of the $50 to the LGBTQ Resource Center.

“I’m not even surprised anymore about Georgetown’s antics,” wrote Amelia Irvine (COL ‘19), president of Love Saxa, in a Jan. 27 Facebook post about the donor’s email.

University spokeswoman Rachel Pugh wrote in an email to the Voice that as of Feb. 2, Love Saxa had received all donations sent to the group.

When the university receives a gift designated by donor for a student group with access to benefits, the gifts are allocated with a designated worktag that ensures they reach the intended recipient,” Pugh wrote.

According to Pugh, because Love Saxa had not received a donation before the fall of 2017, this pathway was not yet complete for the group, leading to the errors.

“As always in these cases, we corrected the mistakes,” she wrote. “[We] have developed a path to ensure that funds are routed properly in the future, and have communicated to the student group and the donors that the gifts have been properly allocated.”

Travis Barham, Love Saxa’s ADF attorney, said he took issue with university’s explanation for the misallocations.

“I personally find that very hard to believe,” he said of Pugh’s statement. “Love Saxa has been fully operating for over a year, with a fully functioning set of accounting codes.”

Moreover, Barham said that as of Feb. 5, the organization had not received any additional funds from the university. “None of the donations identified in our letter have been restored,” he said. “The university has not responded at all.”

Staff at the LGBTQ Resource Center, the Center for Student Engagement, and Georgetown Gift Processing did not return the Voice’s requests for comment.

Love Saxa and the ADF say that the misallocations were deliberate. Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF’s Center for Academic Freedom, wrote in the letter to DeGioia that these events were part of a larger university campaign against Love Saxa.

“Georgetown officials have found a more secretive way of expressing their animosity towards Love Saxa and of punishing the group for its traditional views,” he wrote.

Barham echoed these sentiments. “The university investigated the organization for weeks, interrogated our client for hours,” he said, referring to the November hearing process. “Our concern is that there’s an overall effort to punish Love Saxa.”

Langhofer wrote in the letter that after the Student Activities Commission confirmed Love Saxa’s official university status, funds intended for Love Saxa were funneled towards other campus groups, including Love Saxa’s “ideological opponents,” referring to the LGBTQ Center.

“Almost immediately [after the hearing], Georgetown officials began mistreating Love Saxa in a different, more insidious way: by misappropriating donations,” Langhofer wrote in the letter. “[T]his sort of continued misappropriation can hardly be dismissed as a coincidence and appears to be just another form of theft.”

Chad Gasman (COL ’20), president of GU Pride, who in October requested along with Jasmin Ouseph (SFS ’19) that the commission recommend defunding Love Saxa, disagrees with this narrative of a wider university push against the group.

“For Amelia Irvine and the Alliance Defending ‘Freedom’ to imply that the reason their money is being mishandled has anything to do with Jasmin’s complaint last semester is preposterous,” Gasman wrote in an email to the Voice, noting that the university had not supported their and Ouseph’s petition.

“[T]he Student Activities Commission, the Center for Student Engagement, and the Vice President for Student Affairs all chose to summarily reject the complaint and continue funding Love Saxa,” they wrote.

Barham and the ADF set a deadline of Feb. 9 for a response from the university, warning that they will take further steps if there is no university action.

“A lot will depend on what the university says,” Barham said. “We will see what our response is based on how they act.”

As of Feb. 14, neither the university nor the ADF have issued further public comment.

Katya Schwenk
Katya is a contributing editor for the Voice. She studies government, creative writing, and Arabic, and is very passionate about news and mountains.

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