The Student Activities Funding Committee (SAFC) introduced three changes to the SAFC Club Funding Guidelines to the Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) during Wednesday night’s meeting, but BSG delayed the vote on these regulations until next week. Several BSG members cited concerns over the vague language of a new restriction on clubs requesting dues from members.
The restriction in question reads “no club can charge formal or informal membership fees or ‘dues’ to club members.” It then warns that “if it is discovered that membership fees or ‘dues’ are collected by a club at any point during the year, the [Student Organizations Oversight Committee (SOOC)] will review the situation, and that club may lose their right to request funding from the SAFC, or lose their charter altogether.”
These alterations were prompted by complaints made to the SAFC that members of certain clubs feel alienated because they are unable to pay these dues.
“The SAFC has recently gotten wind that clubs are soliciting dues from members to support … what are essentially parties,” said Harry Sherman ’21, treasurer of the SAFC. “That should absolutely, under no circumstances, be happening.”
When questioned about the Bowdoin Outing Club’s $50 membership fee, Sherman insisted that this payment was different from the membership dues to which the regulations referred, but admitted the difference was difficult to discern from the wording of the guideline. “Now that you mention that, I guess we should change that part,” Sherman said.
In response to a question about a hypothetical scenario in which clubs ask members to Venmo money to pay for beverages for an upcoming event, SOOC Chair Jenna Scott ’19 responded that while the group decided to use strict language in their guidelines, if a group is accused of violating this guideline, the SAFC would be less concerned if their request was for last minute, casual payments from its members. Instead, the SAFC wishes to condemn groups that request a large sum from its members at the start of the year for social events and then stigmatize those who don’t, or are unable, to pay.
Class of 2019 President Henry Bredar wasn’t sold. “It just seems like a really ambiguous way to approach something that is really significant,” he said. Bredar went on to say that if these guidelines create the potential for a club to lose its charter, it is necessary for the SAFC to be clear in their guidelines.
After the discussion, the BSG planned a series of votes that would potentially pass the new guidelines. The first motion, which moved for the guidelines to be voted on that night, failed by a hefty margin, meaning the guidelines will have time to be reviewed by the SAFC at this Monday’s meeting and will be voted on by BSG the following Wednesday.