TAPS party threatens liquor licence

To avoid jeopardizing the University liquor licence, The AMS Pub Services (TAPS) shut its doors for 20 days at the end of winter term after potential violations occurred during its year-end staff party at Alfie’s.

Incidents of patron disrespect towards staff—including one attendee hitting a bartender—as well as alcohol theft during the party, led to the AMS’s decision to close the service between April 12 and May 2.

Rumours that an underground campus pub tradition known as “firings”—an event where non-returning staff are intentionally disobedient during their last shift in an attempt to get fired—might take place, also contributed to the closure.

“Being aware of the potential liquor licence violations puts the campus licence at risk,” said Kelly Steele, outgoing AMS VP (operations). “It’s important to recognize that doesn’t just involve TAPS or Clark [Hall Pub], but it’s also The Grad Club, the University Club and any sort of reception that’s held on campus.”

Sixty staff members attended the April 10 party. Three StuCons, two bartenders and the TAPS head manager at the time, David Wares, manned the event.

“We staffed it the way we staff any other event,” Wares said.

He said incidents at the party were dealt with using the same protocol by which any incident in either the QP or Alfie’s would normally be handled.

“The people were approached and told their behaviour was inappropriate,” Wares said. The male patron who hit the bartender was also ejected from Alfie’s, he said.

Wares said two empty bottles of alcohol were found after the party, including a 26-ounce container of Bacardi Vanilla in the men’s washroom.

The day after the closure Wares and John McDiarmid, the AMS food and beverage officer, met with every staff member to explain the situation.

“We explained what had gone on and what had gotten us to the point that we were at, apologized for any financial inconvenience or any burden that it might have caused, and basically explained it was a small group of people’s actions and these rumblings of “firings” [that caused the closure].

“Basically, we were hoping the guilty parties would come forward so we could resume operation,” he said.

Steele said no staff members were fired. She would not reveal whether or not any information had come to light, citing staff confidentiality regarding discipline issues.

Wares said TAPS management informed the staff during the year that “firings” would not be tolerated.

“Through the rumour mill I heard that although we said it wasn’t going to go on, there were people who were still planning on making it happen,” he said.

Steele said “firings” were beyond the AMS’s control.

“In the past, ‘firings’ have happened spontaneously, at unpredicted times, [and] there have also been organized nights.

“This is not something that is limited to our own operations and it is a problem, and so that is one of two main reasons why we did take action the way we did.”

TAPS reopened May 2 under new TAPS Head Manager Ian Anderson, who worked as one of the bartenders during the staff party. He would not comment on whether he experienced any disrespectful actions during the party.

“We all agreed that as soon as May 1 rolls around it’s basically a blank slate, [and] we have a really good opportunity to start the year off with a bang,” he said. “Every year there’s a different contingent of staff ... last year’s closure is completely independent of this year’s operation.”

The TAPS rehire rate this year was 29 per cent.

Anderson said new staff will undergo more extensive training, including a more well-understood and well-respected discipline system.

“A lot of the problems from last year won’t repeat themselves,” he said. “It’s important [that staff] situate themselves in the overall operation of the service and realize that their actions reflect directly on student-run operations.”

Anderson said he was aware of the “firings” tradition when he worked for the Queen’s Pub in 2003-04 as a server, though he was never involved.

“Everyone is aware of the fact that the QP had that tradition,” he said, adding that in training the new staff, he’s not going to avoid discussing the topic.

“Luckily, none of the staff subscribe to that tradition,” he said. “[In hiring] we did take only the people who were very TAPS-positive and who understood the fact that the service was more important than traditions that jeopardize the service.

“And knowing that, we know that there will be no issue of it next year.”

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