Closing Clark Hall Pub too drastic

‘The lack of disclosure to interested parties has been shocking’

Clark Hall Pub’s doors closed indefinitely on June 27. The Engineering Society terminated all pub staff and supplier contracts.
Clark Hall Pub’s doors closed indefinitely on June 27. The Engineering Society terminated all pub staff and supplier contracts.
Photo: 
Tom Woodhall, MSc ’08
Tom Woodhall, MSc ’08

Discarding for a few moments the thought of who has been affected by the closure of Clark and staff dismissals, it is important not to lose sight of the short- and long-term effects this action has caused. Like ripples in a pond, the effects will stretch out from the Engineering Society itself towards other student activities.

Most alarming for engineering students themselves is not alone the closure of their beloved pub, but rather that the EngSoc president and vice-president (operations) were willing to make a drastic decision affecting the staff, Frosh Week and the University in a real and tangible way by subverting and ignoring relevant policies and constitutional checks.

Whether Mr. Scott or Mr. Macnamara realizes it, there are rules that prevent one or two individuals from dismissing an entire service without appropriate safeguards. As an engineering student, one must ask if this is the respect they afford the hard work that has gone into creating and balancing those checks. As an engineering student you should wonder: If these individuals have such disregard for their own internal rules, and have trampled on provincial legislation in the way in which the staff were given termination pay more than a week after their dismissal, what other aspects of the society are going to get caught in the crossfire of ignorance?

The closure was completed without a concrete transition plan, action plan for Frosh Week or any true knowledge of the situation. In fact, since the closure the vice-president (operations) has had to revise his statements in various meetings and interviews relating to “financial discrepancies” several times. He has been unwilling or unable to present concrete evidence to support any other operational concerns (peruse the EngSoc Summer Meeting minutes available at engsoc.queensu.ca) and most shocking of all has not presented enough evidence as to why this situation needed to be resolved in such a drastic manner.

If you have concerns, why not use the people who know the most about the situation? Why not use the two summer months where Clark is closed to work out the kinks, thereby not endangering Frosh Week or the Grease Pole? Despite repeated requests for justification, members of the society still sit and wonder.

Once hallowed within Queen’s and across Canada as one of the most successful, transparent and relevant faculty organizations, the Queen’s Engineering Society is rapidly falling from grace at the hands of Mr. Scott. Besides subverting his own rules, the lack of disclosure to interested parties has been shocking.

The information that does come out is often confusing and contradictory. No one needs to look any further than the EngSoc plan to make ‘sense’ of the financials. After firing the business manager and discrediting former ones, EngSoc was planning on hiring an accountant. After realizing that an audit was beyond their means, that they were unable to get the approval from EngSoc council in time and that their own “understanding” of any discrepancies was wildly overblown, they are now scrambling to have the University help them find an alumni with business experience and time to spare. Maybe the executive should have looked into those scenarios and costs before firing everyone.

The worst part for students across the University is that Mr. Scott and Mr. Macnamara have created an internal conflict with external consequences. After more than 30 years of sometimes rocky, but continuous operations, closing Clark due to administrative pressure shows nothing but weakness. The threat of a University-sanctioned closure was enough to make EngSoc act, but not enough to inform any of the staff or managers what the problems were so they could be rectified before it became a problem. Other services and clubs across campus who operate in an insurance-plagued environment can expect similar treatment. If the University is slightly uneasy, and feels that you, a group of adults, cannot do your job, then be prepared to have your time, effort, and energy yanked out from under you. The student body can send a huge round of applause to the two men who have shown the administration the chink in the armour of student services.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.