Clark Hall plan disappoints former staff

Report ‘a mixture of recycled ideas,’ former pub manager says

Former Clark Hall Pub staff members Matt McLellan and Chris Hannon were dissatisfied with EngSoc’s report results.
Former Clark Hall Pub staff members Matt McLellan and Chris Hannon were dissatisfied with EngSoc’s report results.
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Some of Clark Hall Pub’s former staff are disappointed with an Engineering Society report on the pub’s future.

The report, written by EngSoc Vice-President (Operations) Rob Macnamara, lists recommendations for better accountability, permanent staff, standardization of contracts and training and new marketing strategies.

2006-07 Clark Hall Pub Manager Chris Hannon, Sci ’06 and MSc ’08, said he questions the report’s effectiveness.

“With the exception of security, the pub would pretty much be run as it was before,” he said.

Hannon was a member of the Clark Hall Pub Strategic Review Committee, formed in 2003 to create a five-year plan for the pub.

The 2003 report recommends targeting students in faculties outside engineering during Frosh Week and maintaining the bar as a primarily events-based venue, both of which are recommended in Macnamara’s report.

“This report is a mixture of recycled ideas, vague concepts and underage events. It contains no concrete plans and does nothing to chart a way forward for Clark,” Hannon said, adding that he was more concerned with what was left out of the report.

“The financial accountability section of the report doesn’t even mention the word ‘Clark Hall Pub’,” he said. “How can that be the main reason [it closed] when the financial accountability section doesn’t even mention it?”

EngSoc commissioned accounting firm Collins Barrow to assess the pub’s finances. The Journal obtained access to the report through a Freedom of Information request after EngSoc refused to release the report to the public.

Hannon said the pub was being run properly when it was forced to close on the basis of lack of financial accountability.

“Look at the reasons for the closure,” he said. “We said that those didn’t exist and those people who can prove that they do exist won’t show anyone.

“It’s been a slap in the face because people think that I stole from a society I worked for, and dedicated myself to, for six years,” Hannon said.

Matt McLellan, 2006-07 Clark Hall entertainment manager, 2004-05 EngSoc vice-president (society affairs), and ArtSci ’08, said the report doesn’t mention what EngSoc promised it would at a meeting last summer after the pub’s closure.

“At the summer meeting they said that there were auditor’s reports and they would make those public,” McLellan said. “I’m pretty sure they’re done now but they haven’t been made public. I’m sure these recommendations are based on stuff, but why haven’t we seen anything?” McLellan said he and his fellow managers at the pub kept balanced books.

“We’ve claimed throughout the entire summer that our finances were fine and there has been no evidence to the contrary.”

The 2008 committee, made up of representatives from EngSoc and Clark Hall Pub staff, was meant “to recommend on the direction and accountability of the service as well as to create a five year strategic vision for the pub,” according to the final report published by the Strategic Committee.

The issue of having permanent staff members working at Clark Hall Pub is also nothing new, McLellan said.

“Five years ago we had a part-time guy but EngSoc phased it out. … I’m concerned where the money is going to be coming from because there is obviously no plan.”

Alumnus Mike Van de Water, Comm ’91, said he thinks the report is missing many important details.

“I didn’t see confirmation of how much money EngSoc thinks was missing as a result of the financial irregularities, a staggering omission, given that this was listed as a primary reason for the report,” he said.

Van de Water was a former production and business manager for Golden Words and a regular at Clark Hall Pub. He lives in London, England, and said the University told him he was formerly Queen’s sixth largest donor in the United Kingdom.

He’s withholding his donation—an amount he wouldn’t specify—to the University in protest of the pub’s closure. Van de Water said EngSoc should have explained why it wanted to keep the report private.

“EngSoc may have valid business or legal reasons for withholding the accounting report,” he said. “That they haven’t spelled out those reasons does suggest to me that they are hiding something.”

He said he thinks the report was designed to put the responsibility for its implementation next year’s executive team.

“Surely it’s not a coincidence that the report … is not due to have anything completed until the end of March 2008 when this exec’s term is up and it becomes someone else’s problem,” Van de Water said. “The time frame seems designed to push things into the next exec’s hands.”

—With files from Erin Flegg

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