Making AUSes of themselves

Editorial/Opinion by
McGill Tribune

In light of emergent details about the Arts Undergraduate Society’s Frosh budget deficit, the way in which Frosh was organized, and how current AUS executives and council members are handling the situation, the Tribune is deeply concerned over the way AUS is being run.

At Wednesday’s council meeting, the AUS revealed the grand total of the amount lost during Frosh this year to be $30,105. This was a surprise to the Tribune, since a reporter asked AUS President David Marshall and VP Finance Majd Al Khaldi two weeks ago if the loss had been in the range of $30,000-50,000, and was informed that that number was inconceivably large. Apparently, the AUS finds deceiving campus media more convenient than submitting themselves to transparency and accountability.

At the same Council meeting, the AUS displayed insufficient concern over their deficit, conveying a sense that executives and Frosh coordinators could do no wrong and that mistakes were just useful “learning experiences.” Last year, the AUS ran a deficit of roughly $50,000, and this year plan to “not make a single cent” on any major events, making it unclear how they plan to earn back the lost funds. During the meeting, this did not seem to outrage people, but was explained as normal and what ought to be expected from the AUS.  

Although, as Marshall repeatedly said, the AUS’ goal is not to turn a profit, that does not mean it should be losing or mismanaging money. Financial losses are forgivable, but their apparent refusal to learn from the situation is disturbing.

Yet even worse than the AUS executives’ indifference is the congratulations that running in the red apparently earned their Frosh coordinators. The coordinators were hired at the beginning of the summer and promised a paycheque of $1,000. Others were brought on halfway through the summer and were promised $650 for their work. However, at the end of the summer, all coordinators but one were paid $1,200 by the AUS. It is unclear why they should have been paid so much more money given Frosh’s losses, which were largely due to oversights and miscalculations in the planning process. AUS executives explained that the coordinators had worked very hard and deserved the extra money. Effort is commendable, but the Tribune feels it would be better to foster a culture of rewarding competence. (For those keeping score at home, the coordinator who wasn’t paid $1,200 was paid just $1000 because she quit before the event.)

The AUS has shown a blatant disregard for the value of student money, neither spending it wisely nor being clear about how it has been used. The executives seem to be doing their best imitations of real politicians, mimicking everything from their fiscal irresponsibility to their inconsistent commitment to honesty. It’s a rather impressive performance, but for us it’s starting to become a bit too real.