President of the College Ronald D. Liebowitz presented the Student Government Association (SGA) with $10,000 for student-hosted events in the Bunker at the beginning of Winter Term. The funding, which will come from Liebowitz’s discretionary fund, will be available for events throughout J-term and the spring semester.
Located in the basement of the Freeman International Center, the Bunker has served as a space for concerts and dance parties. However, the space was once home to a party scene frequently shut down by Public Safety.
“The funding is a good chance to reboot the space in a more positive light. I think the money that President Liebowitz has set aside shows that he has a commitment to opening up more space for social activities,” SGA President Taylor Custer ’15 said.
This latest step resulted from the forum to discuss social issues which Liebowitz held in November. One complaint raised at the forum was a lack of social options, culminating in a request for a party initiative fund for student use.
Liebowitz responded, “You got it. My commitment is there.”
Ilana Gratch ’16.5, Treasurer of the SGA, followed up on this commitment by meeting with Liebowitz and providing the main push for funding. Custer said the SGA felt that “allocating more money towards social life was a very good tangible thing to happen directly as a result of the social life forum.”
The new funding, which will be used to cover the security costs surrounding Bunker events, provides individual students or groups of students with the opportunity to create and host events. In order to receive funding, students must provide a rough idea of the number of attendees and an event schedule. All details must be submitted to the student activities office three weeks before the event.
As long as the request is both reasonable and appealing to other students, it will most likely be approved. David Kloepfer, Student Activities, Programs, and Events Manager, will oversee the Bunker and can help walk students through event planning.
Once the event receives approval, the hosts will receive this funding to cover security. The College typically hires an outside company, Green Mountain Security, for Bunker parties.
Green Mountain Security funnels the crowd in safely and ensures that the party keeps from getting out of hand. Their presence also helps decrease Public Safety’s involvement to only periodic check-ins.
Custer elaborated on the role that students will need to play going forward.
“I don’t think cost is the only or even main barrier to people throwing parties on campus,” Custer said.
“Everyone wants to be the person going to the party and not the person throwing the party. The funding will solve a small piece of that for students; it will lower the cost barrier. The whole student body needs to work on reducing the other barriers associated with throwing a party.”
In an effort to further encourage student involvement in the College’s social scene, the SGA just passed a new student insurance bill in which they pledge to pay 25% of the total damages to facilities used for registered parties. These payments will not exceed $400. There will also be a $5000 insurance fund set aside each academic year which can be made available to cover damages that exceed the $400 limit. This fund will be used at the discretion of an Appeals Committee. These financial supports are meant to decrease student concern, hopefully leading more students to host events.
Ultimately, it will be up to students in the next couple of months to determine how the Bunker funding is used. Whether or not these funds become a permanent fixture of the College’s social life environment will be up to both the next SGA President and recently appointed President-elect Laurie L. Patton.