After the Student Activities Funding Committee (SAFC) denied funding for the spring WBOR concert—which it had allocated money for in the fall—last week, questions were raised about how the committee distributes money from its discretionary funds.

At its April 5 meeting, SAFC received proposals for significant sums of money from two student organizations, the Bowdoin Outing Club (BOC) and the Entertainment Board (E-Board), that normally run solely under operating budgets.

Due to costs that arose during the last stages of planning the Ivies Spring Concert and an unwillingness to cut traditional events that would allow them to cover those last-minute costs, the E-Board decided to seek $8,000 from SAFC's discretionary funds. The BOC requested $12,000 to cover costs of scheduled excursions through the end of the semester.

SAFC awarded the E-Board $6,000 and the BOC $10,000.

SAFC chair Kyle Dempsey '11 stood by the committee's spending.

"It would be perfectly within our right to just say, 'No, this is what we agreed to, we say no,'" he said in explaining that SAFC holds no commitment to covering the expenses of student organizations that fall outside their operating budgets.

Each spring, SAFC works with student organizations that require funding well in advance to allocate operating budgets for the following school year. The committee will meet with organizations, including the E-Board, BOC and WBOR, this Sunday and Monday to allocate funds for the 2010-2011 school year.

"When we allocate the money in [the spring]...we assume that [student organizations are] not going to come back and ask for any money," said Dempsey. "That's the agreement we make when they put in the operating budget."

BOC Treasurer Paul Landsberg '10 said it was a "misnomer" to say the BOC went over budget, as the request for additional funding from the SAFC was in anticipation of spring trips the club had scheduled to send out.

"There wasn't a time when we were in the hole," Landsberg explained. After Spring Break, the BOC realized that to fund all of its scheduled trips, the BOC would need more funding than it had available. He noted that a high student demand to participate in BOC activities was partially a result of the club's ongoing efforts to reach every sort of club member, regardless of the frequency or intensity of a member's use of the club's resources.

In the fall, the BOC learned that two of its three sources of funding would provide 10 percent less funding than in previous years. The club functions with the support of three separate budgets, two controlled by the College and one by SAFC. The cuts in the two College-controlled budgets fell in line with other cuts being made by the College and caused the BOC to draw more heavily from its SAFC budget over the course of the year in comparison to past years.

Dempsey found no fault with the BOC's budgeting or request for funding from SAFC discretionary funds.

"In our view, [awarding $10,000 to the BOC] wasn't like we were really reimbursing anything, it wasn't like we were really doing anything out of the ordinary because we would've funded that money anyway," he said.

"The alternative to not funding [the BOC] would've been no more Outing Club trips for all of April and all of May," which Dempsey identified as "problematic for the Outing Club as an organization," because they are in the midst of their spring Leadership Training sessions.

Landsberg said that the BOC was planning to ask for a larger operating budget from SAFC for 2010-2011 than they did last year, as they anticipate receiving less funding from the College.

The E-Board found itself strapped for funds after Passion Pit requested more money to come to campus and with the realization that a new stage needed to be purchased to adequately accommodate all of the Ivies performers.

E-Board Co-Chair Lucas Delahanty '10 said that the board was able to account for the Passion Pit funding through funds saved on events that came in under-budget throughout the year and a $10,000 buffer they had built into their original Ivies budget.

But, Delahanty said, "even after the $15,000 extra that we had to pay for Passion Pit to get here, the extra stage, the $6,000 from that was basically the straw that broke the camel's back."

If it had been denied its request from the SAFC, the E-Board "would have had the show in the gym, and/or Racer-X would not be performing," said Delahanty. "It would probably be that we'd have to cut Racer-X."

"I didn't really want to go to the SAFC, it was just the extra $6,000 that did it and we basically had nothing left to cut except the two events that students look forward to all year long," said Delahanty.

Although SAFC denied funding for WBOR's spring concert, SAFC approved discretionary funding for the E-Board so that Ivies "could happen," Dempsey said.

"The intent was that if we were in a good enough place within SAFC budget, that we could allocate that money through our discretionary funds, but that was only if we were in a good enough place to do that and only if we thought that the concert was going to be worth the price of the concert, just like we do for any other club," Dempsey said.

WBOR Co-Station Manager Andrew Sudano '10 took issue with what he perceived as the way the SAFC was exerting its control over deciding what events would be funded, saying, "the SAFC has nothing to do with music, as it deals with money, budgets."

Referencing SAFC's opinion that WBOR's second-choice artist for a spring concert, neo-soul jazz singer Bilal, would not bring the same crowd as the better-known hip-hop act Shwayze, Sudano said, "I don't think coming from them it really means much."

Of SAFC's policies on awarding funds to student organizations that go over their budgets, Sudano wanted to know how those decisions affect the funding of other groups.

Sudano said, "I don't really know why such a small number of students hold the keys to the treasury and are the ones" that make decisions about campus programming.

Additionally, he suggested that the SAFC build regulations into their system that would make their decisions less arbitrary, as he perceived they are currently.

"I don't think the SAFC should be a different experience from year to year as members change," he said.

Sudano said that WBOR would try again to budget funds for a spring concert into their 2010-2011 operating budget, which he said was not approved by SAFC when they tried to include it last year.

Of SAFC's Sunday meetings with club leaders to go over and allocate 2010-2011 operating budgets, Dempsey said, "we've already covered these big, unforeseen expenses, and so we're ending right about where we should, so I don't envision any major changes."

According to Dempsey, SAFC will be operating with $680,000 for 2010-2011 just as it did for 2009-2010. After its final official allocation of discretionary funds on Monday, the committee was left with a surplus of $7,798.16. Dempsey said that the total sum would probably be smaller by the year's end, as he anticipates some organizations will come to SAFC with last-minute funding requests.