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BSG postpones SAFC vote on club membership fees

November 9, 2018

At its weekly meeting, Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) voted to release its own operating budget but declined for the second week in a row to vote on regulations on club dues for student groups that get their money from the Student Activities Funding Committee (SAFC).

Last week, BSG members had raised concerns about clubs requiring students to pay dues to participate. Although current SAFC guidelines essentially prohibit clubs from charging membership fees to students, BSG is addressing questions about the specific wording of this clause to ensure fair treatment for students with financial obstacles to participation.

Rather than adopting new wording for the clause at this meeting, the SAFC decided to postpone a final decision to allow for more time to hold dialogue and conduct research about policy language.

“We still maintain the opinion that financial barriers being posed to club members is an extremely important issue, which is exactly why the committee wants to have further conversations with staff, administrators and the public,” said BSG Treasurer and SAFC Chair Harry Sherman ’21. “We just want a lot more time to flesh out every aspect of this clause because it’s a really important one.”

Sherman assured BSG members that the SAFC will review its guidelines once a semester, meaning that this topic could be re-opened soon.

Additionally, BSG President Mohamed Nur ’19 put forth a proposal to publicize how BSG uses its student activities money. In September, the SAFC released data on student groups’ budgets; BSG received the second-most funding, representing 13 percent of the total student activities budget.

“We thought it would be best that we publish our own budget,” Nur said. “The thought is that we’re completely transparent to the entire student body too, so that students can really see the breadth and depth of what BSG can do on campus.”

The assembly unanimously passed the proposal, marking a new chapter for BSG which Sherman noted as a big step in the right direction.

“People always ask, ‘what does BSG do?’ I think the budget will answer a lot of those questions,” he said.

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