Last spring, members of the BSM community camped out for 12 hours as they ate, slept, talked, walked, and earned $59,726 in the process. The American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life brought together students and faculty to raise money and make a difference.
Expectations were set for another Relay For Life this year. However, conflicts with school fundraising, administration has decided that Relay For Life will not be held again.
The reason behind the decision not to to host Relay For Life again is its cause of imbalance between the funding of the school and outside organizations. “There is a conflict of interest due to funding, ” said school president Dr. Bob Tift, “We can do some things, such as common basket. And although Relay For Life is a great cause, we have to be careful about supporting fundraising of other organizations that could diminish our fundraising efforts.”
The main fear behind permitting Relay For Life to happen is that it will cause a dent in the money that BSM needs to earn annually to run efficiently. “The philosophy is that people only have a certain amount of money to give, and if one charity receives more another may receive less. Our main job is education, but fundraising [for BSM] is an important part because tuition doesn’t cover the total cost,” said Dr. Tift.
Because of fundraising for other organizations such as those that benefit from common basket, the school cannot afford to be putting all efforts into outside organizations. “Our mission isn’t to support other efforts; it is to focus on the school community,” said Dr. Tift, “of course we should reach out to those less fortunate, but we have to balance that with us being viable as a school. There are a lot of wonderful non-profit organizations out there, and the hard part is figuring out where to draw the line.”
The controversy over this matter has not been easy to deal with for the administration department, but their resolution was to do what will benefit the school community in the end. “We are working on clarifying and communicating our policies on fundraising,” said Dr. Tift.
There are a lot of different opinions and ideas among the BSM community as to why this event won’t be taking place. “A lot of students think that we aren’t having Relay For Life because it will take away from the funding for the new fields,” said junior Sarah Kopp.
Another one of the rumors was that it would be a liability having so many students unsupervised outside. “I never heard anything about liabilities. At an event like this, I think the faculty trusts in students, and there was even a proposal to move Relay For Life indoors, so it would not affect the outdoor facilities,” said former administrator to Relay For Life, Mr. Matt St. Martin.
Member of the student body who participated last year have questioned why BSM would allow Relay For life to take place last year and then disallow it this year. “I, along with the administrative department, will take responsibility,” said Dr. Tift, “all fundraising must go through the advancement department. Generally we wouldn’t have allowed it last year. However, we let it happen because of certain circumstances.”
There are no more discussions about Relay For Life amongst administration, and the absence of this event has left student and faculty who were inspired to be a part of this disappointed. “I was looking forward to another Relay For Life this spring, and hearing that it won’t be held made a lot of kids angry,” said Kopp, “the best part about it was camping out with friends, and not being able to look forward to that is disappointing.”
People got involved in Relay For Life for numerous reasons. “I got involved with American Cancer Society after my own battle with cancer,” said Mr. St. Martin, “I was diagnosed when I was 22.”
However, because Relay For Life is not taking place at BSM, many students have planned on getting themselves involved at Relay For Life events at other schools. Some who are very involved with the American Cancer Society plan to work hard to make it a positive experience for other communities. “I can’t look to utilize members of the BSM community from a fundraising perspective for Relay For Life. So I’m working as a marketing and fundraising consultant for other areas hosting Relay For Life,” said Mr. St. Martin.
The impact the event had on many students should not be taken away just because of its location, “Last year, everybody participated and wanted to be a part. The most disappointing thing is that people will not have the emotional experience,” said St. Martin, “It’s greater than the money raised, it’s the gained sense of community and experience you get from something like Relay For Life.”