WLUSU finalizes Charity Ball donation at $159

Last week’s issue of The Cord has stirred controversy regarding the 2008-09 Charity Ball. With the final numbers made public late last week by the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union, last year’s donation to the KidsAbility Foundation totals $158.99.

The student reaction to the news that Charity Ball raised so little money for charity has been mixed. Some WLUSU volunteers appear outraged at negative coverage while other students feel betrayed.

The WLUSU board of directors mirrored the feelings expressed by many students on campus regarding the morality behind an event based around fundraising that gave little monetary donation.

“It just looks really sketchy when it’s a $30,000 [budget] and you’re giving $150 and change,” commented director Greg Evans.

“At the end of it all, with the chocolate fountains and whatever else you have, it is misleading, I think, being called Charity Ball,” he added.

In contrast to Evans concerns, WLUSU president Laura Sheridan feels that Charity Ball had other successes, despite the lack of a significant monetary donation.

“If you kind of take a step back and look at the even bigger picture, [their revenue was] $5,000 lower than they expected, and they still didn’t cost the students’ union anything.”

Sheridan also noted that students’ union volunteers have told her, “It’s a shame that people are concerned over this because it really isn’t that big of a deal.”

Despite Sheridan’s observation, director Jacqueline Dobson voiced her disappointment which mainly revolves around the tainted image of WLUSU’s charity work on campus.

“I know some will argue that Charity Ball gives a lot of donations through volunteer hours and effort going to KidsAbility,” Dobson explains, “But I think just the essential issue of what’s happened is that there’s just been a mislead in the student body.”

The board of directors made an amendment to their Friday meeting in order to discuss Charity Ball because directors were concerned with the negative publicity the union was receiving.

The board discussed whether the very name should be changed to something more reflective of the committee.

“I did make the comment in regards to … possibly a name change to something that’s not so misleading,” said Dobson.

Dobson explains that Charity Ball’s goal, as she remembers, was simply “skills development for the volunteers,” which is met each year by the committee.

Chair of the board Saad Aslam feels that because Charity Ball falls under the student activities department “to focus solely on the monetary aspect of it is a loss.”

Questions still remain as to what restrictions or protocol will be implemented to monitor committees’ spending, if any.

Sheridan explains that the computer program ACCPAC, which all student executives within WLUSU have access to, will be closely monitored by vice-presidents who will keep an eye on budgets. Even campus clubs has become part of this new system.

In the past the board of directors has also discussed implementing a policy to keep a closer eye on the expenditures of committees, although it has always been in the context of Shinerama.

Despite anguish on both sides, one calling for closer regulations on committee spending and the other angered at the negativity surrounding Charity Ball, the fact remains that at the end of the year the committee was left with just over $150 to give to KidsAbility.

Evans highlights what many Laurier students have expressed; despite whatever problems WLUSU may have had with finalizing the Charity Ball figures, the final numbers just don’t add up.

“In the future Charity Ball needs to make sure students aren’t being misled into thinking that all of their money is going to charity,” said Evans. “It is a morally grey area.”