Earlier this month, the Bowdoin Outing Club (BOC) reported a budget deficit of $18,000 to the Student Activities Funding Committee (SAFC). The BOC is not technically in the red: the $18,000 it has overspent does not push it past its 2015-2016 operating budget. Without  additional funding, though, the BOC will have to alter its plans for the remainder of the academic year. The number of trips per weekend will be reduced, less financial aid will be offered and students will be forced to supply their own transportation for some trips. Many worry that the repercussions of this could affect more than just those seeking to get away for the weekend. As Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) President Danny Mejia-Cruz ’16 said last week, “The BOC is one of the crowning joys and major selling points of the College and we don’t want them to go stagnant.”

Since this information became public, some have questioned how an oversight of this stature could occur. Part of the problem is circumstantial; the BOC receives their operating budget while the previous year’s expenditures are still being calculated. This means that any debt from the previous fiscal year is repaid with the next year’s operating budget—i.e. there’s little consequence for going over budget year after year.

However, the other part of the problem is procedural. The BOC receives the bulk of its money from the SAFC, a committee of eight students, who are responsible for determining how much money to allocate to “student-run” clubs, according to the BSG website. It gives operational budgets to 18 student-run organizations including $2,000 to the Bowdoin Food Co-op, $6,617.96 to the Men’s Ultimate Frisbee Team, and $24,010 to the Orient. This funding alone marks the College’s financial contributions to these student groups. However, there are several clubs that receive additional funding outside of the SAFC whose chief leadership responsibilities rest on non-students. These clubs—among which are the McKeen Center and the Outing Club—are inherently unlike “peer” organizations that request funding. 

The SAFC gave the BOC over $69,000 for its 2015-2016 operational budget, but the BOC also received significant funds from an endowment, and a separate budget for the salaries of its non-student staff.

The issue is not the amount of funding the BOC has at its disposal—it is that with three non-student staff members holding its top leadership positions, the BOC is hardly a student-run organization. The BOC operates at a level of organizational complexity that is beyond what the SAFC was designed to oversee, and they should not be considered among student-run organizations. The SAFC’s responsibility should be focusing on clubs that are truly and fully student run. When the SAFC is tasked with the funding of organizations that are so massive in their operational capacities and so integral to the College’s image, it is forced to take on a task too large for a small group of students. The SAFC is not at fault—it finds itself in a difficult situation out of its control.

Given the confusing relationship the BOC has with the SAFC, it is clear that this funding model is flawed. Without funding large organizations such as the McKeen Center and the BOC, the SAFC could focus on the small student-run clubs—The Quill, Taiko and Club Tennis— that it is best-suited to work with. It would be able to devote more of its time and resources to allocating its funds properly among those clubs, while Bowdoin could recognize the McKeen Center or BOC as the large College-funded programs that they should be and deal with their funding separately and accordingly. 

This editorial represents the majority view of the Bowdoin Orient’s editorial board, which is comprised of Julian Andrews, John Branch, Jono Gruber, Matthew Gutschenritter, Emma Peters, Meg Robbins, Nicole Wetsman, and Emily Weyrauch.