Show Me the Money

Student Union Pays ASFA $10,000 After Ticket Gaffe

Photo Laura Beeston

An event one Concordia Student Union executive called “cost neutral” on March 14 will instead set the CSU back $29,000.

After failing to sell 950 of the 1,000 tickets it purchased for a conference called Youth Action Montreal, the student union decided to give away their remaining tickets, incurring a $19,000 loss.

On Thursday, ASFA members called an emergency CSU Council meeting to settle their grievance. Council unanimously voted to buy the association’s remaining 465 tickets and give them away, costing the union an additional $10,000.

The move to give away nearly 1,000 tickets initially infuriated members of the Arts and Science Federation of Associations, who had withdrawn $11,000 from a special projects fund to purchase 500 tickets to the conference.

They planned on recuperating the money by selling their tickets at cost, but ASFA President Aaron Green told The Link that became impossible once the CSU began giving tickets away.

“There was zero consultation about that move, and that’s unacceptable,” said Green, who is also a CSU councillor. “How can I sell these tickets when they are giving them away for free next door?” “[Thousand of dollars] of ASFA’s members associations’ money could be lost due to the CSU’s irresponsible and inconsiderate actions,” Green wrote in a motion to council.

The lack of communication between the student associations nearly cost ASFA one third of its special projects funding.

“This affects our clubs and their end of the year events, their graduation events there all compromised at this point,” said Green during the meeting.

“We didn’t consult with ASFA that’s true, that’s a mistake that we made, we take full responsibility for it,” said CSU VP Clubs & Finance Ramy Khoriaty.

Even with the giveaway in place, the student union is having trouble parting with its remaining 1,400 tickets. But the CSU and ASFA aren’t the only student associations struggling to unload tickets to Youth Action Montreal—a conference that will feature speeches by David Suzuki, Kofi Annan and Stephen Lewis.

CSU President Heather Lucas said the Student Society of McGill University, which also purchased tickets to the event in bulk, is having a tough time selling Youth Action Montreal to its members.
Even the giveaway, Khoriaty said, hasn’t dramatically improved the conference’s prospects.

“We’re going to table more and try to get as many students to the event as possible. This is an important event,” said Lucas.

Another possible point of controversy has been the way in which the CSU purchased the $20,000 worth of tickets. Under CSU standing regulation 90, the union’s executive does not have the right to approve a financial transaction in excess of $4,999 without the approval of its Council. According to Green, Council was never consulted about the ticket purchase.

“It may have come up in an executive report, but as far as I know, Council never voted on this in a motion or anything,” said Green. “I asked a number of other councillors last week and they all seem to agree.”

President Lucas, however, contends that Council approved the expense when it voted on the union’s budget in 2010.

“My interpretation is that we had approved everything that we had set out for the year when our budget was approved,” she said. “But in the future we will definitely bring something of this magnitude to Council.”

The $29,000 dollar expense incurred with the Youth Action Montreal tickets will be taken from the already overloaded speaker series budget—which has more than doubled its projected expenses.
Despite the ticket setback, the CSU is still projecting a budgetary surplus of about $50,000.