Oregon students protest blood drive's exclusionary policy
March 18 2004 12:00 AM ET
Two student legislators at Western Oregon University in Monmouth, Ore., have launched a drive to
ban Red Cross blood drives on campus, claiming the donor screening process discriminates against gays. The two students are particularly upset about a donor question that reads: "Are you a male who has had sex with another male since 1977, even once?" The federal Food and Drug Administration, which regulates the Red Cross screening process, will not accept a donation from someone who answers yes to the question, ostensibly to exclude potentially HIV-tainted blood. "By continuing to allow the Red Cross on our campus, the university is telling all the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered students that we don't care about you," said student senator Shauna Bates, who is cosponsoring the resolution.
If the resolution passes with a two-thirds majority vote of the senate's 14 members, no student-funded organization would be allowed to sponsor a blood drive. Current blood drives on campus, though, get their funding from the university's health services department. A meeting on the topic Monday drew students and various health officials from the university and Red Cross opposing the move. Student Molly Underwood said that matters of public health supersede those of discrimination. "Just because somebody thinks something is unfair doesn't mean you should ban it," Underwood said. "Lives could be at stake."