The annual Spring Gala almost fell off this year's social calendar after the departure of a staff member left the event without a overseer. In past years, an ad hoc committee comprised of students has collaborated with the Office of Student Activities to plan the event, but this year no such committee was formed, an oversight that was not caught until two members of Bowdoin Student Government discovered that financing for the event had not been secured.
Last year's gala was planned almost exclusively by the Student Activities Office; at the end of the year, however, funding was not requested by that office or by any students for this year's event. The budget for the gala, like most expensive events at Bowdoin, must be approved by the Student Activities Funding Committee (SAFC) well in advance. Dani Chediak '13, BSG vice president for student organizations, and SAFC Chair Brian Kim '13 realized the gala had been forgotten when reviewing the SAFC funds earlier this year.
"At some point Brian and I started auditing accounts in the fall semester and looking at where the SAFC is compared with the past and thought, 'Why do we have so much money, this doesn't make sense,' and we realized that the surplus came from Spring Gala," said Chediak.
At that point, there was doubt whether gala would even take place this year.
"Something we did think about was whether or not people wanted this event. Since no one was involved with the planning last year and no one seems to notice that it's not getting planned this year, maybe no one cares about it," said Chediak. "But we talked about it at BSG and the response was, 'Of course, we love Spring Gala.'"
BSG, the Office of Student Activities, and the SAFC then discussed how this year's gala would be planned.
They ultimately decided to make the new gala planning committee a subset of BSG. Last year's gala committee was "kind of an anomaly as far as SAFC runs," said Kim. Every organization that receives funding from the SAFC is supposed to have a charter, and the old committee was an unchartered group. Incorporating the gala committee into BSG solved that problem.
"Each class sent one or two representatives from their class council to form the committee," said Chediak. "Then the BSG executive team met to discuss nominating someone to serve as chair."
They chose former Class of 2013 President Melody Hahm, given that she's done an "incredible job" planning events for BSG, according to Kim.
The new committee began meeting at the end of February to plan this year's Gala. One of its first priorities was deciding on a different location than last year's venue, Farley Field House.
"No matter how much fabric you have, no matter how much lighting you have, it's impossible to not think of it as a gym," said Hahm.
After deciding against the idea of holding the gala outside, the committee approached Director of Athletics Jeff Ward in hopes of hosting the event in Watson Arena.
When that idea was turned down, the committee settled on Smith Union. The gala will take place in Morrell Lounge and other sections of the Union, as well as Sargent Gym.
Now the committee is focused on constructing a decoration plan using smaller than usual budget. In recent years, the event has been granted approximately $25,000 by the SAFC. According to Chediak, the BSG authorized the SAFC to fund this year's event with up to $22,000, but currently the committee is operating with a budget of $18,000. It can request the remaining $4,000 if necessary.
"As of now, we're trying not to use that money," said Hahm, in regards to the additional funding.
Hahm hopes that the new planning committee as well as a new location will make this year's gala significantly more successful.
"I was very disappointed over the past two years. It's supposed to be a big event, something you look forward to, and unfortunately I think in my time at Bowdoin it hasn't been seen in a very positive light," she said. "That's why I wanted to be the chair of the new committee, because I won't feel comfortable planning something that I wouldn't want to attend."
Spring Gala will be held in Smith Union on Saturday, May 5.
Editors' Note: This article has been edited to more accurately reflect why funding for the gala had not been secured last year.