For the first time, Bowdoin College Republicans will send two students to this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) with funding from the College.
The club presented its request to the Student Activities Funding Committee (SAFC) at one of its weekly Monday night meetings. The meeting asks that groups present before a panel of students who then vote on whether the project should receive funding based on a list of criteria.
President of SAFC Anna Constantine ’23 explained that funding is allowed for partisan events so long as it comes from the SAFC budget.
“The school itself is not allowed to sponsor politics. So this isn’t like Bowdoin College bringing CPAC here—that would not be [allowed] because they’re going as the Bowdoin College Republicans and not as Bowdoin College,” Constantine said.
The SAFC initially denied the request due to its high sum—club funding is not allowed to include airfare, and trips like this are meant only for group leadership, not the whole club.
The student organization had initially requested $8,000 from SAFC to send all members who wanted to attend. SAFC countered this request with $890 to send the club’s two leaders.
“That seemed really like an indication that they didn’t really want us going on the trip at all,” Bowdoin Republicans President Oron Steingrub ’22 said. “I just wonder why that is just because such an opportunity like this comes up so rarely for people as young as we are.”
After several discussions, the group received $3,693 in funding to send four club members and leaders instead of the initial two.
The conference speakers include Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Senator Marco Rubio, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ohio Representative Jim Jordan. Most noteworthy, however, will be former President Donald Trump.
“I think that a lot of enthusiasm was caused by the announcement that Trump would be at the event,” Steingrub said.
The students attending the conference requested anonymity, according to Steingrub.
“They worry that there can be some level of ostracization on campus if their names were to be made public and they don’t want … cancel culture to come after them,” Steingrub said. “They’re not sure how the rest of the student community would respond, so for that reason we are not going to share their names,” Steingrub said.
The CPAC theme this year is “Don’t Cancel America.” Its subheader reads: “We will not be canceled—and you don’t want to miss it!”
In an email to the Orient, Director of Student Activities Nate Hintze outlined the college’s rules around partisanship, stating this type of conference trip is allowed using SAFC funding.
“Hopefully going to this conference will bring new life into the Bowdoin Republican student organization, which has been somewhat dormant over the last three years,” Hintze said.
The biggest concern for this trip has been COVID-19 safety, so in response, the club created a COVID-19 safety plan which has been approved by staff from the College.