In a search for accountability, the Bates Outing Club will be the first student organization in line in the Budget Committee’s audit process. Founded in 1920, the Bates Outing Club is one of the school’s oldest student organizations, and perhaps the largest. The Budget Committee, chaired by Connor Cahill ’17, decided to tackle the beast as the first formalized audit since the “shakeup” in student government last year.
“The audit process is our primary means of enforcing student organization budget rules, and by extension, college policy,” Cahill said in an interview. As Student Government Treasurer and Chair of the Budget Committee, Cahill and the committee members have a duty to address any discrepancies in club budgets, citing the right to cut funds of any club or organization that does not abide by the Budget Committee Guidelines.
Unfortunately, the Outing Club has been on the Budget Committee’s radar since first semester. The Outing Club, in addition to other clubs yet to be disclosed, was flagged for violations under budget guidelines. “Due to the significant presence and impact the Outing Club has on campus,” Cahill said, “[the Budget Committee] felt that it would be prudent to begin audit proceedings in order of perceived risk and suspected extent of the infractions.”
The Outing Club is particularly susceptible to audits and loss of funds due to its extensive equipment rental program. The E-room is stocked with thousands of dollars worth of skis, climbing gear, sleeping bags, tents and more—it is difficult to keep track of gear and to hold students accountable for damages and returns.
The Outing Club has attempted different methods to solve this problem, but all come with their disadvantages. Previous efforts included trying to work with the Administration to charge the student accounts of individuals who do not return gear. However, no developments have been made at this time.
“As a club, we cannot charge students,” former BOC President Sasha Lennon ’16 said. “We want to decrease the barriers to outdoor activities as much as possible, and part of that is by providing gear—that is something we feel strongly about.”
Lennon and other members of the club, including E-Room Director Thorn Merrill ’18, have shared concerns about a better method of discouraging students from keeping the gear over their assigned rental period. Merrill is currently conducting a full inventory of the equipment room alongside club Treasurer sophomore Katie Hartnett ’18. Students may put down a deposit of $10 for a pair of skis, but if they never return them, the club will incur a cost of $200 and lack available equipment for other students.
The Budget Committee and members of the Outing Club are optimistic about the audit.
“A lot of people hear the word audit and think of it as a negative thing,” Lennon said. “The BOC has spent their money in a very correct and law-abiding way, but I do acknowledge that there are issues in the way certain things are done…we need help in fixing [them].”
Cahill sees the audit as not only a way of maintaining the organization of the Outing Club’s funds, but also as a way to improve the Budget Committee’s own auditing process. “As one of the oldest, largest, and most active student organizations on campus, the Outing Club serves as a model for what we hope all student organizations can achieve,” Cahill said.
The Budget Committee will determine penalties for any infractions it discovers. Their three goals include determining whether the infraction was due to intentional irresponsibility on the part of the BOC, enforcing a suitable penalty for such an infraction, and providing a solution to ensure that there are no repetitions of such infractions, Cahill told the Student.
Further information on the state of BOC financials will be released after the audit process is complete.