In June 2016, the Vice-Principal (VP) Large Events of the Symphonic Band Club Jerry Xie visited room 428 in the Shatner Building–where the club stored its equipment–only to find $6,000 worth of sheet music missing. The previous month, the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) had accidentally misplaced the sheet music when they cleared out all SSMU clubs’ offices in the building. Although the Symphonic Band Club has reached out to SSMU executives numerous times throughout this academic year, the club has yet to receive compensation for the lost property.
Last year’s SSMU VP Clubs and Services Kimber Bialik reallocated SSMU club office space to Student Services and general space that can be booked. In October 2015, Bialik sent notices informing all student clubs to clear their offices before May 2016. The Symphonic Band, however, remained unaware of the plans because Bialik sent the announcement to an older email address.
The Symphonic Band, founded in 2008, had used its office to store instruments, podiums, and scores. Xie found the instruments in subbasement 17, but was not able to recover any of the sheet music. The Band’s music library contained roughly 80 works, each costing $70-90.
Brian Kennish, the SSMU building coordinator, confirmed SSMU’s role in the misplacement of the sheet music.
“Unfortunately, it is very likely that the items that you are referring to were removed and recycled,” Kennish informed the Symphonic Band’s President via email on June 28, 2016. “The porters have followed the mandate to empty certain fourth floor rooms that were needed to be repaired and painted for new tenants.”
The Symphonic Band hosts a concert each semester. Previously, the club would purchase three new pieces and perform these along with three pieces from their archive. The band now has to use the dues it collects from its musicians solely to acquire new music, deferring funds away from subsidizing the rental of musical instruments.
President of the Symphonic Band Jonathan Palozzi explained that this is not a sustainable solution.
“Without music, we are not a club,” Palozzi said. “We need music to play. We cannot buy all new music every semester. It is too expensive and we do not have that much money. Why do we have to forgo our opportunity for funding to fix [SSMU’s] mistake? I don’t think that’s fair.”
In August 2016, Palozzi began negotiating with SSMU’s current executives for a compensation scheme. According to Palozzi, the executives explained that SSMU did not have the money to repay the club for the missing sheet music. Allegedly, the only suggestion they offered at the time was for the club to ask retailer JP Musical Instruments for the music. In October 2016, Palozzi inquired as to whether he could pursue reimbursement via an insurance claim. SSMU VP Finance Niall Carolan told Palozzi that he would discuss the matter with the Security Manager and inform him of any progress. Palozzi has since continuously followed up until February 2017 with sporadic responses from SSMU executives. Requests for comment from SSMU executives were not returned.
“I am very disappointed in SSMU’s actions or lack thereof,” Xie said. “Their negligence gives me the feeling that we as a SSMU group and we as individuals do not matter. It has been seven months since we first discovered this error and the constant lack of information and willingness to help to the best of their ability really showcases the lack of integrity of the executives that represent us students.”
Currently, the Symphonic Club hopes to come up with a reimbursement scheme by contacting SSMU’s insurance broker directly.