By Mado Hayes
The Associated Students of Lewis & Clark (ASLC) is working together with the College Outdoors (CO) Roundtable, the student-run steering committee, to resolve an issue involving a lack of funding for CO trips. In the past, CO has been able to subsidize half of the trip costs for students who receive federal financial aid with funding from ASLC.
ASLC as a whole is responsible for funding student organizations, but the Student Organizations Committee (SOC) is the group within ASLC in charge of handling the process of allocating funds to subsidize CO trips.
ASLC Vice President Alden Chatfield ’19, who was the SOC Coordinator last year, said that a mistake on his part led to the miscommunication with CO Roundtable.
Last spring, Chatfield tried to simplify the process of allocating funds to student organizations. Previously, the SOC Coordinator would meet with all student groups who submitted budget requests that were over $4,000. Chatfield got approval from his committee to remove this requirement but he misinterpreted the SOC bylaws that prevented him from making a change like this without Senate approval.
Personal circumstances led Chatfield to cancel the meetings that had already been scheduled with student groups, including a meeting with CO Roundtable. Chatfield had also misunderstood the ASLC bylaws and believed that he could cancel the meeting with student groups, and that this change in procedure did not have to be approved by the senate. After allocations week, during which these meetings would have taken place, the SOC then reviewed the budgets and allocated the student fees a few weeks later. Due to a lower projection of student fees for 2018-19, ASLC had to decrease the budgets of all student organizations. CO Roundtable was one group that spoke up about their frustrations regarding the lower budget and the lack of communication about it.
“I do want to be clear that regardless of how badly my week was going, I still made these decisions and I am at fault for their consequences,” Chatfield said via email. “The good news is that ASLC and College Outdoors have been working closely to resolve things and I am confident that we have taken the steps needed to make sure their concerns are addressed.”
ASLC President Violet Betters ’20 said that the new ASLC Cabinet has been working with CO Roundtable to figure out how serious the issue is and where to go from here. Since the new ASLC Senate has not been formed yet, the Cabinet has been acting on behalf of the Senate. The Cabinet held a meeting on Sept. 13 and voted to provide a small amount of additional funding to CO as a temporary fix. A more long-term funding solution will be possible when the Senate is formed in a few weeks.
Betters said that the Cabinet felt that emergency measures were necessary because of the passionate responses from students who rely on the funding for CO trips.
“It’s clearly important to the student body,” Betters said. Therefore, it’s important to ASLC.”
Member of CO Roundtable Holden Jones ’19 said that everyone at CO is proud of being able to make trips as accessible as possible. He also said that the new ASLC Cabinet is on board with making that happen.
“The new ASLC group has done a really good job of recognizing that this is a problem that students aren’t given equal access to the outdoors and they’re doing all that they can to remedy that,” Jones said.