WaterCan @ Queen’s de-ratified

A chance viewing of an event listing on Facebook for a “wet” fundraiser to be held tonight by WaterCan @ Queen’s has led to the student club’s de-ratification. In early March, the AMS barred the club from holding alcohol-related events until the end of the school year, after a February fundraiser took a turn for the worse.

At an emergency meeting last night, AMS Assembly voted unanimously in favour of ejecting the club, a move AMS President Ethan Rabidoux called Assembly’s “last resort.”

De-ratification effectively severs all ties between the AMS and the club, taking them off the AMS insurance policy. It also eliminates their web space and a $0.50 opt-outable student fee.

After the de-ratification, representatives of WaterCan @ Queen’s sent the Journal a statement regarding the decision, but declined further comment.

“[Our club] no longer finds the AMS able to fulfill its obligations as an impartial and fair political body,” the statement reads. “The student government has failed to defend WaterCan as a viable student-run club and is thus negligent of its mandate to protect Queen’s student interests.

“In light of such unethical actions, WaterCan has decided that to maintain its level of service to its different projects around the world, it will, from this day forth, de-ratify and become a charitable organization.”

The AMS put the club on probation after an off-campus fundraising party they hosted in February, called FLOAT, ended in one arrest, threats to StuCons, a food fight and some damage to the venue.

At last night’s meeting, Rabidoux cited a “pattern of problem behaviour” including $5,000 damage to Zorba’s banquet hall that occurred at FLOAT in 2005, repeated disrespectful behaviour to StuCons and an unsanctioned party held at Elixir in the fall, as justification for the de-ratification.

“We’ve given them plenty of chances,” he said. “If something bad happens at the [Friday] event … we are liable.”

The AMS insurance policy covers all club events, and requires StuCons to be present. Rabidoux said the club hadn’t informed the AMS of the event or requested StuCons.

“[De-ratification is] the least desirable avenue,” he said. “But there are 200 other clubs abiding by the rules and we don’t want one club to blow the AMS insurance because they acted irresponsibly.”

Student leaders called the emergency meeting after getting wind on Wednesday of tonight’s wet fundraiser. The event, called Jambo, is held annually at Elixir.

Elixir General Manager Corey Fainstat confirmed yesterday that Jambo was booked by WaterCan @ Queen’s organizers, but said he’s not concerned.

“Jambo is an annual event that we do, it’s an island party theme,” he said. “The venue is Elixir, but it’s put on by WaterCan [@ Queen’s]. They’re a very hardworking team, [and have] huge success with each one of their events they put on—it’s always a good time.”

As a university chapter of the national, Ottawa-based WaterCan, the club raises money for community-based water and sanitation projects in Eastern Africa. According to WaterCan spokesperson Jennifer Davis, the Queen’s club is one of the largest donors in WaterCan history, raising a total of $50,000 since they started in 2002.

She explained that while club representatives are trained by the national organization every fall, legally WaterCan @ Queen’s is an independent fundraising organization.

“But every time they hold an event, they have to tell me about it,” she said. “We have to be accountable for the money that they raise.”

However, when asked yesterday about whether the club had made her aware of Jambo, Davis said they hadn’t.

“To be honest with you, I am not [aware of that event].”

Davis spoke for the club after contacting a WaterCan @ Queen’s representative who refused to speak to the Journal, citing a fear of being misrepresented.

“[I] was told the party was a private party that was not being organized by WaterCan @ Queen’s, but the money is being donated to WaterCan, through WaterCan @ Queen’s.

“They were very careful not to advertise on campus, because they were cognizant of the request by the AMS not to hold a wet event.” She added that club members said they tried to inform the AMS of this private party, to be professional.

“But apparently, no one returned their calls.”

Rabidoux said he was unaware of any calls to the AMS informing them of the club’s event. He sent an e-mail to club organizers about the potential de-ratification yesterday afternoon, about three hours prior to the meeting.

He added he was aware that several club members tried to visit him at the AMS on Wednesday, although he was unavailable to meet with them at the time.

Davis questioned the fairness of the de-ratification process.

“I would be interested in knowing whether … there are some rights for the people having decisions made for them,” she said.

Davis said the organization sees the situation as “unfortunate,” and will continue to support the club, despite de-ratification.

“For us, it’s not the end of the world,” she said. “The student body needs to do what they feel is best for their campus. Should the de-ratification proceed, we will pursue an external community organization, [since WaterCan is] about a group of students who want to make the world a better place.”

In their release, the WaterCan @ Queen’s representatives formally announced their last official event of the year, Jambo.

“Jambo will strive to generate the last $5,000 needed to achieve this year’s goal of being able to build a $20,000 well for our project in Kenya,” it says.

The group recently gave the national WaterCan organization a cheque for $15,000.

The de-ratification took place against the backdrop of World Water Day, which was celebrated on March 22.

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