Tonight at 6:10, the ASUCD Senate will be discussing a resolution that reprimands BloodSource, a blood-donation organization, for not allowing the queer community to donate blood. This is in addition to the recent action taken by ASUCD at last week’s budget hearings to withdraw approximately $1,000 of ASUCD funding and sponsorship of BloodSource’s quarterly blood drives.
The legislation that is being introduced rests on two premises:
First, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines discriminate against the queer community by banning men who have had sex with men (MSM) from donating blood. This is based on information that the American Red Cross and America’s Blood Centers all consider to be “medically and scientifically unfounded.“
Secondly, the ASUCD Senate is “beholden by its constitution to uphold the University of California, Davis, Principles of Community, which states, ‘We confront and reject all manifestations of discrimination, including those based on … sexual orientation.‘”
The essential conclusion from these two premises is that any organization that accepts blood donations – BloodSource included – is knowingly participating in discriminatory practices. If that is not enough to end a partnership with an organization on its own, then the fact that working with an organization that discriminates against any group that contradicts our Principles of Community should be enough to terminate any relationship between ASUCD and BloodSource.
My initial reaction is that this is a pretty logical argument. I, too, believe that the FDA policy is anachronistic, and that working with BloodSource does violate our Principles of Community. However, I am against the budget cut and the reprimand because after some critical analysis, it becomes apparent that cutting ASUCD’s co-sponsorship and reprimanding BloodSource does not effectively work toward the end goal it hopes to achieve.
When facing a question like this we must look at intent over impact. The intent of the proposed actions is to force the FDA to change its policies and regulations. Unfortunately, the impact of the approval of such proposed action would not be affecting FDA policy at all, but rather would cripple BloodSource’s ability to collect blood on the UC Davis campus – the “largest single campus blood drive” that BloodSource works with, said Leslie Botos, Vice President of Public Affairs for BloodSource.
In one two-day blood donation period on the UC Davis campus, BloodSource can “bring in nearly 1,000 donors” which sends blood out to “40 hospitals, with the UC Davis Medical Center being the largest medical center we provide for,” Botos said. “ASUCD is an influential body that validates the importance of saving lives … and gives us credibility when we come to campus.“
By withdrawing support – be it financial or through a resolution – we are not attacking the FDA regulations, but instead we are attacking the innocent individuals who need blood to stay alive.
Although I have never received a blood transfusion, a close family member of mine has been the recipient of blood transfusions on several occasions. At the time it was imperative that my family member received the transfusion in a timely manner. Blood from organizations like BloodSource saves lives. Blood from individuals who are willing to donate makes that possible.
I in no way approve of the outdated FDA policies, or the discriminatory practices that they encourage. However, by withdrawing support from BloodSource, we are not harming the FDA, but rather we are harming the individuals who actually need the blood.
In summation, by withdrawing financial support and sponsorship from BloodSource blood-drives, we are adversely affecting those that need blood the most rather than changing the outdated policies of the FDA. I agree that we should actively lobby and work toward changing FDA policy, but withdrawing money and support from blood drives simply isn’t the way.
I encourage concerned students to attend the ASUCD Senate meeting tonight on the third floor of the Memorial Union to voice their support or share their personal stories.