Voodoo magazine has funding restored
UA Council investigated whether Voodoo violated Title IX in its publications
CORRECTION TO THIS ARTICLE: This article mistakenly refers to an informal harassment complaint about recaptioned comics as a “Title IX complaint,” and the subheading mistakenly says that the Undergraduate Assocation (UA) investigated whether the magazine had committed Title IX violations. The UA only discussed whether to continue funding the magazine. The article also incorrectly says that the Association of Student Activities (ASA) brought the complaint before the UA’s Finance Board (Finboard), when in fact Finboard, some of whose members are also part of the ASA, acted unilaterally. Additionally, five (not four) council members objected to the current cycle’s preliminary allocation, and the quarterly (not trimesterly) allocations were delayed by about two weeks (not one). The condition that Voo Doo representatives meet with Finboard and the Student Activities Office was unrelated and applied two funding cycles ago (not during the current cycle). Mark DiVincenzo and Jaren D. Wilcoxson of the General Counsel (not R. Gregory Morgan), recommended against using this condition for future cycles. The May 2013 meeting between Finboard and Voo Doo, which was also unrelated to the harrassment complaint, took place before (not after) summer allocations were released. Cory Hernandez ’14 is the treasurer of the UA and a former (not current) Vice-Chair of Finboard. The article also mistakenly refers to Voo Doo, magazine editor Alina Kononov, and the Finance Board as “Voodoo,” “Konokov,” and the “Financial Board,” respectively.
The Financial Board (Finboard) of the Undergraduate Association (UA) has now released its trimesterly funding allocations for student groups. This release, delayed by about a week, comes on the heels of Voodoo Magazine successfully appealing Finboard’s decision to revoke Voodoo’s funding on the grounds of a Title IX complaint. Voodoo is headed by Senior House co-president and member of the UA Council Alina Kononov ’14,
In December 2012, Student Activities Office (SAO) director Leah Flynn received an unofficial complaint from the original author of a comic that was recaptioned in Voodoo. Flynn forwarded it to the MIT Association of Student Activities (ASA), who brought the complaint to Finboard for consideration in the next allocation cycle.
According to Kononov, Voodoo was denied funding in Finboard’s preliminary allocation decision, which was released to the UA Council for approval on Sept. 25, 2013. One day later, Kononov sent a lengthy email to the UA council describing her objections with Voodoo’s defunding, stating, among other things, that she believed Finboard was attempting to exercise “ungrounded, sub rosa financial censorship.” In response, four other council members objected to the allocations, causing the vote to be delayed until the next UA Council meeting on Oct. 9, per council procedure.
Some council members suggested a lack of transparency in Finboard’s allocations process. “It seems the entire process is very cloudy; between the people who want the funding and the people who review the funding, only the people who are doing the allocations know the process,” said Andrew Dorne ’14, president of the Interfraterntiy Council.
Other council members questioned whether the only reason that Voodoo was given this much attention was because the magazine’s editor, Konokov, was on the council board as the president of Senior House. They pointed out that the Council was not closely scrutinizing smaller groups that did not have direct ties to the UA.
The voting members of the UA Council consists of representatives from the dorms, Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Council, and Living Group Council.
In the end, the UA council voted to reinstate Voodoo’s funding, contingent on the condition that they meet with the SAO and Finboard to discuss the complaint.
This is not the first time Voodoo has been denied funding. In the Spring-Summer 2013 allocation cycle, Voodoo claimed they were treated unfairly by Finboard when they received only half the amount of their requested funding. In response, Finboard met Voodoo in May 2013 to discuss these concerns. According to Vice-Chair of Finboard Cory Hernandez ’14 in an email to the UA council, after this meeting, Voodoo seemed amendable to meeting with MIT’s General Counsel, SAO, Finboard and Title IX coordinators to ensure their future leadership did not “cross the lines into harassment in their humor.” Voodoo eventually successfully appealed to regain their full funding
R. Gregory Morgan, a member of MIT’s General Counsel, recommended against restricting Voodoo’s funding in the future, through a written statement presented at the UA Council meeting.
UA president Sidhanth Rao ’14 stated that though a decision should be made at the council meeting, the decision would be open to an appeal process afterwards, giving more time to discuss the implications of Title IX in regards to Voodoo’s publication.