The future of the Kenyon College Equestrian Club (KCET) is uncertain after the Business and Finance Committee (BFC) drastically cut KCET’s allocation for the fall semester.
The BFC told the equestrian team on April 24 that they would only receive $5,954 this upcoming semester. This marks a significant decrease in funding: Since its inception, the KCET has received an average of $16,000 per semester from the BFC, the Student Council body responsible for allocating the student activity fee money to student organizations. This cut means KCET will not have the money for four of their usual six horses and two of their three competitive shows.
“We’ve been given funding for the cost of two horses; however, two horses is simply not enough for our program to function,” KCET co-captain Katie Jimenez-Gray ’18 wrote in a statement to the Collegian. “We have upwards of 20 riders, many of whom take lessons weekly. Horses cannot be safely used in that many lessons per week.” KCET declined to comment further on this topic.
The amount KCET has received on average during previous semesters — $16,000 — was significantly larger than the average amounts allotted to other club sports. Per semester, the Ballroom Dance Club receives $4,000, men’s Ultimate Frisbee receives $3,000, Men’s Rugby receives $1,800 and Club Soccer receives $200, according to the BFC. Overall, club sports rarely receive more than $7,000, according to BFC co-chair Guillermo Garcia ’17.
The BFC’s money comes from the student activities fee, an amount of money that every student is required to pay as part of their fees each semester. The student activities fee is $150. This money adds up to a total of roughly $180,000 to distribute for semesterly allocations and $15,000 to $20,000 to distribute throughout the year in supplementals funding. This means the equestrian team’s funding has accounted for approximately eight percent of the total money allotted to student organizations.
“This money comes out of the student activities fund, which means that every student is paying out of their pocket for these activities,” Garcia said. “We didn’t think it was fair for the equestrian club to receive such a disproportionate amount.”
Although the BFC and Student Council have long considered decreasing the equestrian club’s funding, Garcia said, they were previously unable to cut the club’s allocation due to a rule in the BFC’s bylaws that required the BFC to fund “90 percent of KCET’s per horse expenses for up to six horses.” Nobody on the BFC is sure where this rule came from, Garcia said, but it restrained their ability to question the amount KCET received each semester. When Student Council revised its constitution in February, they agreed to remove the bylaw after lobbying efforts by Garcia and other members of the BFC.
Garcia emphasized his belief that KCET’s activities do not benefit people outside of the club.
“It’s a tough situation because the equestrian team is one of the best organizations in terms of how they present the budget and all the fundraising they do for the student group,” Garcia said, “but it still doesn’t justify giving them this amount of funding.”
Jimenez-Gray considers the potential loss of the equestrian team to be harmful because the group is a major attraction for prospective students.
“We get frequent emails from prospective students for whom our riding program is an important factor in their college decision,” Jimenez-Gray wrote in the statement to the Collegian. “Our show team represents Kenyon at intercollegiate competitions, and we’ve had several riders qualify for Regionals, Zones and even Nationals. By so drastically cutting our budget, Kenyon will be losing a team that not only means a great deal to its members … but also … represents Kenyon in a positive light at interscholastic competitions.”
Historically the $18,000 allocated to KCET has not covered their entire expenses and the club hosts fundraising events throughout the year. Over the course of this academic year, the club has raised approximately $3,200.
Though the budget cuts allow for two horses, KCET members must consider the strain they put their horses under when they ride them; it is unsafe for two horses to carry the weight of twenty riders every week. To fund the cost of five horses — the number of horses needed to continue riding without harming any horse — KCET would need to fundraise $6,156 in one semester. “This is, unfortunately, not a feasible option,” Jimenez-Gray said.
In the future, the BFC can allot any amount to the equestrian team.
“We’re basically telling them this is the funding according to the committee that is in place right now,” Garcia said. “It really depends how they can gather student support or justify their expenses and why the student body should care about funding that.”
KCET has contacted the BFC to see if they can appeal their budget allocation.
“We are looking into alternatives,” Jimenez-Gray said. “However, at this point, our club will not be able to function with the funding that we’ve been given.”