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

BQDC Investigation Finds No Evidence of Financial Mismanagement, APDA to be reinstated

In a letter sent to The Student on Apr. 23, Dean of the Faculty Malcolm Hill shared findings from his team’s ongoing investigation of the allegations of inequitable conduct and financial mismanagement against Director of Debate (DoD) Sammi Rippetoe.

These allegations were made in an open letter published on Feb. 16 announcing the resignation of all 19 members of the Brooks Quimby Debate Council (BQDC)

The open letter indicates that Rippetoe spent a “disproportionate amount of the teams’ budget by booking a 6 day trip to Oxford for a 2 day tournament and bringing her husband using BQDC funds who did not coach or judge.” The letter goes on to claim that neither “the director nor her husband were present at the tournament other than the opening announcements and the end of one round.”

Hill’s most recent letter claims that allegations of financial mismanagement are unsubstantiated. “I have found no evidence of any financial impropriety on the part of Professor Rippetoe,” he wrote. He added that the attendance of the additional faculty member was pre-approved and was “an appropriate step to assist Professor Rippetoe in fulfilling her responsibilities to the debate team.”

Hill’s letter did not address the allegedly excessive length of the Oxford trip.

Additionally, Hill indicated that Professor Rippetoe has continued her role as both a visiting assistant professor of Rhetoric, Film & Screen Studies (RFSS) and as director of debate, indicating that she will return to Bates in the winter of 2025 following her parental leave. “Additional coaching support for BQDC will be provided in the fall of 2024,” Hill added.

In addressing the increased responsibility of the DoD, Hill determined that the “culture of independence and autonomy” that BQDC exercised prior to Rippetoe’s arrival “[exceeded] the college’s standards for co-curricular programs.” 

“As a new employee of Bates College, Professor Rippetoe was asked to oversee a program that required greater oversight and support, creating an organizational change dynamic in which a degree of conflict was likely inevitable,” Hill said.

The Dean of the Faculty went on to acknowledge that both Rippetoe and members of debate required more support in this transition. “We are working to repair that,” he wrote. 

Finally, in regards to BQDC participation in American Parliamentary Debate Association (APDA) tournaments, Hill asserts that “student participation in APDA events has been reinstated,” funded by alumni donations with Professor Stephanie Kelley-Romano serving as a faculty supervisor. Hill added that this program will operate under standards and practices for travel as previously implemented by Rippetoe in the Fall. 

“The BQDC and debate are treasured parts of Bates history and are essential to the college’s present and future. As we continue to consider reforms and revised structures that will align BQDC with other co-curricular programs and enhance debating opportunities for our students, my office will look to work collaboratively with the RFSS faculty and BQDC members to achieve that goal,” Hill concluded. 

This is a developing story and will be updated accordingly.

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About the Contributor
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. 

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    Anonymous StudentApr 30, 2024 at 5:09 PM

    I have to say this feels very much like a typical Malcolm Hill cover up that students and professors alike have suggested is common. Hill does not claim or even so much as suggest that the comments made by the BQDC that Rippetoe and her husband were not active participants in the debate tournament with students were false. Instead in typical administrative talk we are told that there was no financial abuse. Just because the school allowed her to bring her husband with her does not mean that they fulfilled their coaching obligations and that isn’t necessarily direct grounds to claim financial irresponsibility. That is something the school cannot necessarily find the truth in without hiring outside investigation into the matter which they clearly have not done. By choosing to keep things internal again and again, Bates’ leadership will continue to be questioned by alums who have not seen the responses they believe to be appropriate. Again, this response begs the question of why would all members of the debate team resign if there truly was no issue? Why would they claim these things if there weren’t some truth to them? These are young adults not children. Even if there was no financial mismanagement clearly Rippetoe is not the right person for this job. By continuing to keep her hired for this position you are putting students in a position to choose between what they feel is right and doing an activity they love. Do better Bates!