Some Davenport actors will take the stage in togas this spring — that is, if the Sudler gods smile on their proposed production of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.”
These students, and other spring applicants to the Sudler Fund, will spend the next two weeks waiting on tenterhooks as their residential college masters review applications to the program. Their proposals will be subject to enhanced scrutiny due to concerns about cheating by previous Sudler grant recipients, which prompted the Council of Masters to alter its application process this year. Notwithstanding these changes, several residential colleges told the News after the Monday deadline that they received more applications for the spring than they did for the fall.
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Last year, a few students were discovered to have lied to or misled the masters when they applied for Sudler funding. Schottenfeld said the students were found to have received money from more than one college — a violation of the Sudler rules — or to have submitted false receipts in the reimbursement process. The cases of cheating were brought before the Yale College Executive Committee, the top disciplinary body for undergraduates, he said.
“I wouldn’t call it scamming,” Schottenfeld said. “I’d call it fraud … outside of here, people go to jail for that.”
Jonathan Edwards Master Gary Haller said that while none of the students charged with cheating in the Sudler process were in JE, he was deeply disappointed to hear about last year’s cases.
“I’m not surprised that students change the rules a little bit and try to get away with it,” Haller said. “But I was not aware that we were dealing with fraud.”
The application forms have been changed slightly in order to try to cut down on cheating, Branford College Master Steven Smith said. The forms now say that by submitting a proposal, a student promises that no similar or related proposals have been submitted to other residential colleges.
“Now they’re required to indicate on the form that they are themselves the author or the initiator of the proposal,” Smith said. “And we hope nobody will scam us any longer.”
But many students may not have been aware that submitting forms to multiple residential colleges was not permitted.
Jess Heyman ’07, who has been involved in many Sudler-funded theatrical productions — most recently “Caligula” and “Stop Kiss” in the fall of 2005 — said in the past, students working on different aspects of the same project were asked to apply to multiple colleges for funding. She said they assumed that when the Council of Masters met to discuss applications, they would decide which one college would provide the funding.
Interest in Sudler grants appears to vary from college to college, based on the number of applications each college received this semester. Branford had received 11 applications: four for visual arts, four for publications, two for plays, and one for a concert. Ezra Stiles received 14 applications, and Davenport received 20 applications for various projects including productions of “Twelfth Night” and “Hansel and Gretel.”
After the colleges have received the applications, the individual masters make a ranked list of the proposals they would most like to fund and submit it to the Council of Masters’ Committee on the Creative and Performing Arts, Davenport College Master Richard Schottenfeld said.
“The college master does not make the final decision,” Schottenfeld said. “[The committee] creates that second set of eyes.”
The five-member committee, he said, tries to ensure that proposals that will be funded will successfully occur and checks to see if students have obtained the rights to any copyrighted performance.
Heyman said that Davenport may have received more applications this year than did some other colleges because of the perception that Davenport has one of the larger residential college endowments. In addition, Heyman said Calhoun and Ezra Stiles do not always give the full amount of funding requested for a project, while Davenport usually gives proposals the entire amount of money requested.
“There definitely is a perception that Davenport is one of the richer colleges,” she said.
But Schottenfeld said the committee distributes the income from the Sudler endowment equally between the 12 colleges, so every college distributes the same amount of money every semester.
Students will hear back about the status of their Sudler applications after Feb. 2, once the Committee on the Creative and Performing Arts has reviewed student proposals and determined the awards.