Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) discussed the College’s hazing policy and the recent punishment of the men’s tennis team at its Wednesday night meeting.

David Levine ’16 lead the discussion by presenting a report that included hazing policies at peer colleges, expert opinions on the subject, and an interview with a member of the Meddiebempsters who experienced a hazing incident in 2011.

“Students should have a role in adjudicating hazing,” said Levine. 

Several BSG members expressed concerns about the College’s loose definition of hazing, which makes prevention more difficult for student leaders. 

“What I found in the interviews is that there’s ambiguity about what counts as hazing.”  Levine said.  According to the report, most peer schools do not have a clearer or more extensive definition of hazing than Bowdoin’s. 

BSG members were also concerned about the administration’s lack of transparency regarding its methodology for deciding whether a group has hazed its members.

“We never really have a good understanding about exactly what happens in an incident and what part is mandated as hazing,” said BSG President Dani Chediak ’13.

The administration has cited a concern for student confidentiality as a major reason why most information about hazing incidents isn’t public information. Several BSG members criticized the College’s definition of hazing and discussed what a more specific policy would look like. 

“The problem is that we as the student body don’t agree with what [the administration] is considering hazing,” said Asher Stamell ’13. “I don’t think anyone would say that Bowdoin has a hazing problem. If anyone checked online, we have a hazing problem. That’s just a misrepresentation.”

“Because of the lack of transparency, we don’t really know what the boundaries are,” said Jordan Goldberg ’14. 

As the hazing discussion wrapped-up, Chediak announced unofficial plans to sponsor a forum in which students can express their opinions and concerns about hazing at Bowdoin in an open dialogue with each other and certain administrators.

Additionally, BSG tentatively plans to produce a written guide that would give specific examples of hazing and explain why they were considered hazing. The Student Organizations Oversight Committee and Student Activities will collaborate to write the report, which will be distributed to student leaders throughout campus after approval from the administration.

The meeting’s second major discussion focused on the Student Activities Funding Committee (SAFC) and their budget surplus for the 2012-2013 academic year. 

SAFC chair Charles Cubeta ’13 estimates that the total amount of extra funding will be between $15,000 and $20,000. 

This year, SAFC had more available funding in their discretionary budget because of a reduction in their operating budget. Additionally, the SAFC experienced a $35,000 reduction in requests from student organizations compared to last year, and one organization returned $12,000 in unused funds.

“We have an opportunity to give back to the College,” Cubeta said. “Traditionally when there’s been a surplus, the SAFC has thought about some type of improvement they could make to the campus or an event.”

The renovation in Smith Union that resulted in the sail room was funded by leftover SAFC funding. Although the students and not the College control the surplus, Cubeta stressed that projects or events should align with the interest of the community at large. 

“When you give a gift to someone, you want the person receiving it to like it,” he said.
Project suggestions included the additional seating in Smith Union, printers for more residential buildings, and outdoor seating for Moulton Union. 

Despite the surplus, the SAFC website indicates that not all requests for funding by student organizations were met in their entirety during the year.

Later on in the meeting, Stamell, the E-Board Representative, expressed the E-Board’s concerned about keeping students off the stage at next Thursday’s 3LAU concert and may end up investing in crowd barricades.