The Student Activities Funding Committee (SAFC) recently decided to strictly enforce the funding limit of $1,000 per semester, per organization for Expert Instruction. This decision will primarily affect two groups on campus: the Polar Bear Swing Club and the Middle Eastern Dance Ensemble, each of which hire instructors not affiliated with the College.  

Blindsided by the sudden implementation of the new budget, leaders of the Middle Eastern Dance Ensemble Kate Herman ’15 and Sage Mikami ’15 appealed the decision in early September. Enforcing the policy would cut the group’s funding in half, and Herman and Mikami had little time to deal with the consequences.

“We were upset, as we had followed all the SAFC’s instructions on having more performances on campus, and improving our publicity, just to have our funding taken away,” said Herman.
SAFC Chair Ryan Davis ’15, however, said that the decision to enforce the policy was made in the name of equality.

“There is no way we can say yes to every request,” he said. “When we say no, it is because the premise is unsustainable. While this isn’t personal to these two groups, there is no reason they should get more than any other clubs. If anything, we are trying to be more fair, as these clubs in the past have been an exception to the rule.”

After much deliberation, however, the SAFC decided on Tuesday to fully fund the Middle Eastern Dance Ensemble for a one-year grace period, restoring their budget to $2,000 for the year. 

Herman said that Davis hoped the grace period would enable the dance ensemble to find a more affordable coach for next year or figure out another solution that would put it in compliance with the $1,000 Expert Instruction cap.

Had the appeal not gone through, it would have had serious repercussions for the Middle Eastern Dance Ensemble.

“If our funding was cut in half, we would only have been able to have five sessions a semester, in contrast to the 10 we currently hold,” Herman said. “We have worked very hard over the past two years to expand the organization, and both our regular and irregular members would be likely to disperse if we were to hold only five sessions. It would render everyone’s efforts and hard work wasted.”

Davis argued that this change was to be expected, as the guidelines have been in place for many years now.

“The guidelines stay constant, just different people implement them in different ways,” he said. “The SAFC is made up of completely different people from last year’s SAFC, and we may make different decisions than previous committee members, based on what is the best way to allocate money effectively and sustainably.”

Davis said he believes funding should be proportional to the number of students an organization reaches.

“Nearly every student on campus goes to an [Entertainment Board] sponsored event, or is involved with the [Bowdoin] Outing Club in some way, therefore the fact they get a lot of funding is justifiable,” said Davis. “This cannot be said for many of the other student groups on campus. As small organizations, the Middle Eastern Dance Ensemble and the Polar Bear Swing Club don’t affect as many students as the E-Board or the Outing Club, for example—therefore more funding would be unjustifiable.”