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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Editorial: Support giving blood

At the May 23 ASUCD Senate meeting, senators voted to eliminate the BloodSource line items from the ASUCD budget. In the past, ASUCD has designated $1,250 for BloodSource — $1,000 goes to room reservation fees that BloodSource later pays back, and $250 is used for advertising.

The chief driving force for this decision was because senators believe BloodSource discriminates against the queer community. It harkens back to the UC Davis Principles of Community, which rejects “all manifestations of discrimination, including those based on… sexual orientation.”

At $250, the divestment is essentially a symbolic gesture, which is slightly ironic given ASUCD’s previous lack of support for Ethnic and Lavender Graduations earlier this quarter.

We are all for fighting discrimination, but fighting BloodSource doesn’t seem like the most productive way to do so. Thankfully, ASUCD’s decision doesn’t actually prevent BloodSource from coming to UC Davis — but it does prevent BloodSource from looking to the Association for advertising, and it does potentially prevent students from knowing when blood drives are happening. By withdrawing support, we are hurting a local nonprofit’s efforts to save lives, and more importantly, we are hurting the people depending on BloodSource for survival.

The real problem is the FDA policy, which doesn’t accept donations from any man who has had sex with another man since 1977. It also bans donations from any woman who has had sex with one of these men in the past year. The FDA says this population is at increased risk for HIV, hepatitis B and other infections.

BloodSource isn’t necessarily supportive of this policy, though the bank needs to follow it, just as every other blood bank follows it. In fact, the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB), American Red Cross and America’s Blood Centers — a network of blood centers that BloodSource is a member of — all called for a change in 2006, stating that the FDA’s ban is scientifically unfounded. BloodSource is not the enemy.

We agree that the FDA’s deferral policy is outdated, discriminatory and should be protested. But lobbying the FDA is a more effective route that the Association should consider, rather than discouraging students from giving blood to those in need.

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