There has been a good bit of coverage in the Orient about the decision to redirect the funding for Sunday evening chapel services. I thought it best to directly address this issue as this is an important matter for our community.

The Office of Multicultural Student Programs, directed by Dean Leana Amaez, has for several years provided $100 honoraria for Sunday chapel talks. We began to provide this support several years ago to help this tradition get established and support spiritual life at the College. Sunday chapel services are now well established and flourishing.

Pastor Sandy Williams' sermon on September 18 and the controversy surrounding his remarks was the catalyst that prompted us to rethink the existing funding arrangement.

The Office of Multicultural Student Programs works to make Bowdoin an inclusive environment for all students, and Dean Amaez felt that it was really not appropriate for her office to support messages or programs that contradicted those aims. I agreed with her. The change was not aimed at discontinuing Sunday services but redirecting the source of that support.

Recognized student organizations wishing to sponsor speakers and presentations at Bowdoin have many other funding sources including the SAFC (Student Activities Funding Committee), BSG (Bowdoin Student Government), class councils, the Lecture and Concerts Committee, and individual departments.

Pastor Williams was in fact paid out of a student activities operating budget account that is often used to partially fund student events or fully fund smaller ones. With the long-term in mind, Dean Amaez encouraged the Bowdoin Christian Fellowship to approach the SAFC about making these honoraria part of their annual budget request, but the students instead told Dean Amaez they planned to discontinue the practice of providing honoraria since the pastors are typically reluctant to accept payment. The tradition of Sunday evening chapel services will continue, however.

Departments at the College are continually asked to make contributions to support various student initiatives and the Office of Multicultural Student Programs and the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs are frequently at the center of that support. Our approach regarding the allocation of funding has been to support onetime events or fledging traditions that can be "brought on budget" in the near term.

Our support of last April's Veritas Forum is a good example of the type of support we like to provide. (The Veritas Forum is a Christian organization that seeks to engage Christian and non-Christian speakers in discussions about the hardest questions in life. Last year, this forum focused on the relationship between morality and religion.)

Once the Sunday chapel services and BCF were thriving, we should have removed ourselves and redirected BCF's support to the SAFC, but we did not and Pastor Williams' sermon became the catalyst for doing so.

The Office of the Dean of Student Affairs and the Office of Multicultural Student Programs support the exchange of different viewpoints and beliefs and the dialogue that is created through open discourse. The opportunity to hear from, watch and view provocative speakers, performers and artists are at the center of a Bowdoin education.

There are a multitude of outlets within the student life arena that feature such activities, speakers and events whether the focus is on gender, sexual orientation, identity, sex, faith, political ideology, etc.

If you have a good idea, just bring it forward, and as always, we'll work together to make it happen.

Tim Foster is the Dean of Student Affairs.