The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

Clubs Get Creative As They Grapple With Limited Funding

Jamie Shelton

With additional reporting by Felix Danishmend ‘26.

Student clubs have been forced to change major performances, seek funding from academic departments and alter club experiences as a result of a broad 5% budget cut made last January.

In an interview last year Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer Geoff Swift said, “The goal is to minimize impact on the student experience and find more efficient ways to do what we do. Also, as noted in my community note, we appreciate the impact of annual increases to the single fee on families and want to minimize that impact. These relatively small programmatic budget cuts will assist us in that goal.”

All Bates College Student Government (BCSG) Recognized Clubs begin the academic year with $100 in their account for any needs the club might have. Additional funds can then be requested from the BCSG Funding & Activities Board (FAB) who then vote to approve, deny or partially grant the request.

The FAB is composed entirely of students and operates on behalf of BCSG and Campus Life. The FAB budget includes an annual allocation from Campus Life in addition to unused funds from the previous year, which are put into a re-allocation fund.

According to Assistant Dean of Students for Campus Life Nick Dressler, the college has been growing the funds that FAB can distribute to student clubs. Dressler reported that Campus Life increased FAB funding from $70,000 in 2022 to $120,000 in 2023, a 71% increase.

Dressler added that unused funds from the pandemic, when club activities were limited, were used “to encourage long-delayed community activities, giving a group of students who had not been able to fully participate in Bates life a chance to experience it.” Because of this, last year the FAB was able to fund 91% of budget requests.

For the 2024 fiscal year, FAB had $115,030 total to allocate to all Bates clubs. This total reflects a 4.1% decrease in funding in response to the 5% budget cuts across all college programs. Despite this, Dressler emphasizes that such a decrease is not projected for the coming year and the FAB budget should not be lower than this year. However, inflation will influence how far funds can go as food and transportation costs rise.

In addition to supporting over 80 clubs, Dressler indicated that Campus Life employs 68 students and 34 fellows, putting additional stress on this year’s limited budget. “Club requests vary from year to year. In the course of every year, some clubs disband, while others form. In some years there may be 90 clubs, but only 70 are truly active. Some decisions by FAB are made, particularly later in the year, based on how much remains to allocate,” Dressler said.

Given these budget constraints, the FAB has been more intentional with requests according to Dressler. “This year the Funding & Activities Board funded 78 percent of all the requests it received and exhausted all allocated funds,” he stated in an email interview. “Administering these funds is a valuable exercise and it isn’t always easy; no one likes to say no.”

In a Mar. 6 notification to BCSG clubs, Funding & Activities Board Chair George Peacock ‘26 wrote, “At this juncture […], most of the money in FAB’s allocation fund has been distributed. Going forward, FAB will prioritize allocating funds to initiatives that fall into two categories: 1. Annual, traditional mid- and large-scale events. 2. Supplies that are essential to the function of the club.”

Peacock went on to note that, “Requests that fall outside of these categories are unlikely to be funded, and may have to be requested again in the coming academic year.”

Though Peacock’s report of the almost complete depletion of FAB funds came midway through the Winter semester, FAB Member Deniz Yucel ‘26 reported that the FAB did not overspend funds in the Fall semester. Yucel noted that there has been an uptick in the number of club requests during the Winter semester, with increased club activities and events, possibly explaining the limited availability of funds so early in the second semester.

Dresseler said that Campus Life and FAB members will meet during Short Term to review the year and discuss steps for next year.

Many student clubs have felt the effects of these budget constraints, causing them to seek other sources of funding and to make significant changes to their club operations.

The Bates Student spoke to three club organizations that have struggled with the budget cuts. Read their stories below:

Snaggletooth (Literary Magazine):

In an interview with The Student, Editor-in-Chief of Snaggletooth Magazine Talia Skaistis ‘25 shared that limited funds have prevented the printing of the publication’s final issue of the year.

To print their bigger issue this semester, the club requires about $700 to print 100-150 copies of the magazine, depending on its length. However, the club’s Funding & Activities Board Advisor (FAA) steered the club away from requesting the sum from FAB, indicating that the request would likely be denied.

To supplement the lack of FAB funds, the club has turned to the English and Arts and Visual Culture departments for support. According to Skaistis, the English department was able to contribute $350 toward the print issue.

In addition, the club held an arts fair on Apr. 12 to fundraise for their final issue. They sold clothes, held a bake sale, a “pie an officer” station and an art sale. The club was able to raise $500 in addition to $200 remaining in their account and the English department’s contribution. They were able to print 100 copies of their issue and plan to have them available May 3.

The club’s Managing Editor and Event Planner, Caroline McCarthy ‘26, indicated that Snaggletooth did not experience such funding issues in the Fall semester. In fact, they were able to print 150 copies of its big Fall issue and accompanying zines. The club was also able to host a large-scale campus event.

Earlier this semester, FAB granted the club’s request of $700 to print their Winter semester “micro-issue.”

The current funding difficulties are surprising to club officers, especially considering the growth and niche-role of the campus organization. “A creative literary arts magazine […] it should be something the school’s really proud of having– especially one that’s entirely student-run,” Skaistis said.

According to Skaistis, the club has grown significantly in the years since the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the club consisted of about ten members and exclusively published online issues. Now, the publication consists of a staff of about 30 and prints three large issues a year.

“Now that we are actively printing three times a year and that we have a big group of people to manage, we are not the same club that was operating in 2021 at all […] We just kind of serve the campus much more than we did back then; we host open mics, we are the only space where creative writers are able to submit their work and have it published and have it workshopped by us. We are serving a very specific need on this campus in a pretty big way,” Skaistis said.


The Robinson Players:

The Robinson Players, Bates’s student-run theater organization, have also faced financial difficulty this semester. Similar to Snaggletooth, the club had all budget requests approved in the Fall semester. Though, according to Robinson Players Treasurer Ananya Rao ‘25 and Artistic Director Joaquin Torres ‘25, the club puts on smaller productions in the Fall.

In the Winter semester, the club requires funding for their annual mainstage production, a musical theater showcase and the Short Term musical. In late February, the club requested $300 to cover production costs for this year’s mainstage production, Julius Caesar, whose rehearsals began in January. Rao and Torres reported that the club’s FAA said that the club would not have received these funds if they had not already begun rehearsing and advertising the production.

“The Robs have always had a mainstage production around this time anyway. So, the fact that we could have not gotten funding for that is very alarming,” Torres said.

Before the March 6 notification regarding limited funds, the Robinson Players requested $3,000 for this year’s Short Term musical, The Lightning Thief. Rao explained that $2,500 of the total would be reserved for rights to the musical while the rest would go toward production costs.

Last year, the FAB approved $5,830 for the Short Term musical, High School Musical. This year, only $1,700 was approved for the club. Without the funds to support the original musical, the Robinson Players were forced to change the musical to Seussical the Musical. However, this change came after the club had already begun advertising for The Lightning Thief.

“That’s what we advertised to the whole club, the whole campus, the whole college. That’s what we advertised to the Lewiston schools,” Torres reported.

Rao also indicated that this switch causes a significant change in the intended audience for their production. “The Lightning Thief would have been more relatable to a wider audience, like elementary and middle. But middle schoolers don’t want to see Seussical the Musical,” she said.

Despite support from the Theater department, who has offered the use of microphones and costumes, as well as advice on other avenues for funding, Rao maintains concern about club members’ participation in the production.

“I’m worried…that people won’t be as likely to participate in [Seussical]. And, being a theater group, a big amount of our participation relies on these people auditioning and being excited for shows,” she said. She indicated that Seussical was among the less popular choices when the club voted on the Short Term musical earlier in the semester.

Rao, who is also co-president of the campus dance group, 2Beats, suggested that getting funding for smaller clubs has proved more difficult than for bigger organizations. According to Rao, the club has not been approved for any funding requests this year.


The Crosstones and The Merimanders (A Capella Groups):

A capella groups have taken advantage of fundraising opportunities and cost-saving travel measures to mitigate the impacts that limited funds have had on their annual tours. The Crosstones indicated that they would not be requesting funds from FAB for their tour this semester, due to the high likelihood of its denial.

Crosstones Co-President, Ana Fowler (who is the Managing Arts & Leisure Editor for The Student) noted, “With the decrease in club funding, we had to be more strategic with our budget requests.” Instead, the group’s treasurer, Reese Hillman ‘26, said that the group would be using funds from some paid professional opportunities.

The Merimanders, the all-female a capella group, were granted their total request for their annual tour. According to club treasurer, Cece Marshall ‘26, the majority of these funds are reserved for food and gas, since they will be staying at club members’ houses.

Greater Burden on Club Officers:

Overall, this situation has put added stress and responsibility on club officers.

According to Skaistis, “I kind of knew that as I became Editor-in-Chief, that dealing with money and funding and preparation was going to be something that was part of the job description. I did not think it was going to be as stressful as it has been, or of as limited of a resource as it has been. I thought that our school would support us a little more with that and would be more encouraging and that we wouldn’t have to be fighting so hard.”

McCarthy went further, saying that “[securing funding] has definitely been an added workload to stuff we’re already doing to have to think about funding and where we’re gonna get it from.”

In discussing the Robs’ difficulties with musical rights, Torres said, “This logistical stuff is seeping over into my own life–it’s invading my personal life.” They continued saying, “This is too much. It’s too much on top of everything else that I’m doing.”

Rao echoed their statement, adding that the stress of securing funding depletes motivation to participate in clubs. “If I have to work so hard just to get scraps at something, why am I going to want to do it?”

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About the Contributors
Trinity Poon
Trinity Poon, Managing News Editor
Trinity is a sophomore from Sandwich, MA with a double major in English and French. She has been writing for The Student since the Fall of her first-year. She is a member of the Women's Ultimate Frisbee team, Cold Front, and plays the trumpet at Bates. When she is not writing and tossing disks, Trinity enjoys reading, running and spending time outdoors. 
Zoe Schaedle
Zoe Schaedle, Managing News Editor
Zoe is a Sophomore from Philadelphia, PA. She is currently undecided, but is leaning towards a double major in History and Classical and Medieval Studies. In her free time, Zoe enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, volunteering, going to the beach, cooking, or playing/watching sports.    Previously, Zoe served as a staff writer for The Student as a first year. She is also on the Bates Women’s Lacrosse team, and is an active mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Maine.

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