By Noa Maltzman ’18, News Editor
On Saturday February 7, members of both the Polo Club executive board (and two members of their Alumni Advisory board Will Orthwein ’92 and Tab Orthwein ‘91) and members of the Student Government Association (SGA) joined together to discuss many issues related to the Polo club and their current standing with SGA.
The Polo Club has been under SGA review since October (as discussed in a previous Skidmore News article, Skidmore Polo Club Under SGA Review, that was published in December 2014). “It got to the point where we needed to consider if this is something SGA can continue to support,” said SGA President, Addison Bennett ’16. SGA as a whole only has a limited number of funds, as they get $319 per student per year, and currently one of the clubs they give much of that funding to is the Polo Club.
When the club first went under review at the end of October, a memo was sent to the Polo Club from SGA that discussed their concerns with the club. The memo had seven items of concern. Three of those items were horse care, financial involvement and administrative involvement. Horse care is no longer an issue SGA has with the club, as the club has proven that the horses are well taken care of. “You [Polo Club] know horses better then we do. We are not going to pretend we know your horses better,” said Bennett.
Members of the SGA have been investigating and looking into the current Polo Club and past information about the club as part of their review. They have gotten in touch with people in almost every department and area of the school. They also reached out to David Porter who was the president of Skidmore College at the time Polo was stripped of their varsity status because of similar issues they are facing now—issues that had to do mainly with finances, and the financial burden the club brings. When Polo was stripped of their varsity status, SGA volunteered to pick them up and support them as they had the funds at the time to do this.
“We do not want to be the people to take something away,” said Bennett, and this was something that was clearly stressed at their joint meeting on February 7. Other members of the SGA executive committee echoed this statement of Bennett. Soraya Attia '15, Senior Class President, spoke up at the meeting and said, “I don’t want to see the polo team go,” also stating: “I just want to see something sustainable.”
At the meeting, the conversation kept going back and forth from members of the Polo club executive board and members of SGA. The Polo Club was trying to convince SGA to make a compromise. The president of Polo Club, Bill Miller ’15, said at the meeting, “it would be one thing if we just shut our doors and weren’t willing to compromise.”
A few days prior to this meeting the Polo Club had sent a proposed budget to SGA that reduced their budget by almost 40 percent. “We are trying to meet you half way,” said Miller. Treasure of the Polo club Meggie Danielson ’17 echoed this statement by saying “we are willing to meet you halfway.”
Currently the Polo club owns ten horses and leases four horses. The horses they lease do not cost the club any money except for what it takes to care for them. The club leases the horses for the school year, and then at the end of the year they give the horses back to their owners. In the budget proposal that they wrote up, they would only lease horses for the fall semester opposed to the whole school year. Then in the spring semester they would only keep the horses that they owned, as the leased horses would be returned to their owners. With fewer horses in the spring, the team would still be able to ride and practice, but would have to travel for all their games, as they wouldn’t have enough horses to host.
“You guys [Polo Club] do something that distinguishes Skidmore from other colleges,” Bennett said. With this in mind, though, there has been this ongoing debate over the years that Polo is cool and students like to do it but it takes a lot of work. Hopefully this issue will come to an end, and a decision will be made prior to spring break. Bennett said SGA has a “flexible deadline” of before spring break in regards to when they want to have a final decision on if the Polo Club will lose its funding or not.