Letters to the Editors

Charity Ball is not a mess

Re: “AMS, confess you’re a mess” (October 22, 2010).

Dear Editors, 

We would like to clear any misconceptions that may have arisen following Mr. Rotman’s piece in last Friday’s edition of the Journal.

While he is correct to point out that this year’s Campus Activities Commission (CAC) budget lists that Charity Ball has projected $28,500 in revenue and $30,500 in expenses, Mr. Rotman does not account for the fact that our committee has received a $2,000 allocation from AMS Assembly, which appears as part of the “Assembly Allocation” budget line.

Thus, what at first glance seems to be an event with a $2,000 deficit is in fact a perfectly balanced budget – one that includes a $2,500 minimum donation to the Charity Ball’s beneficiary this year, Home Base Housing.

Mr. Rotman’s mistake is an easy one to make, as the AMS’s budgeting model is unusual and unique: the entire society budgets for zero.

This means that some aspects of the AMS will make a profit while others break even or go into a deficit. The profits that are made in some aspects of the society are thus reallocated to other areas of the society in order to fund opportunities for students that would otherwise not be available.

We have a long-standing tradition of offering students unparalleled leadership and volunteer opportunities; without this funding model, it would be increasingly difficult for these experiences to be offered.

We are sorry that Mr. Rotman chose not to speak to either of us, or to anyone in the Campus Activities Commission, prior to publishing his piece. However, we invite him, as well as any other concerned students, to contact the CAC if they would like to learn more about Charity Ball, the Commission, or the society as a whole.

Christina Mariani and Catherine Normandeau,
Charity Ball Co-Chairs 2010

AMS is still a mess

Re: “AMS, confess you’re a mess” (October 22, 2010).

Dear Editors,

Mr. Rotman’s article misses the point. The Alma Mater Society is able to spend students’ money irresponsibly and fail at representing students because, as a mandatory union, it receives funding no matter what.

Services like Charity Ball, Capture the Faculty, the Common Ground, etc. make losses—excluding subsidies from student fees—because students do not value the services for what they cost. Queen’s Model Parliament lost nearly $10,000 last year because students do not pay the full cost of the event. Effectively, the AMS determines that some people deserve your money more than you do.

The union runs these services by taking a guaranteed and predictable amount of fees from students each year. These fees total about $1,000 for each undergraduate student at Queen’s and go to support a variety of things: the AMS itself, faculty student unions (ASUS, EngeSoc, ComSoc, etc.) and various organizations and services the AMS has deemed to be worthwhile.

Membership and its mandatory fees are obligatory. This means the AMS is able to subsidize and support whatever failing services or political schemes it would like.

If the student union is guaranteed a hand in our wallets, it doesn’t matter how well it is run or whether it represents us students. It can do whatever it wants!

What Mr. Rotman should have asked is how the AMS can represent the diversity of students if it’s content in violating one of their most fundamental human rights: the right to freedom of association.

By choosing or not choosing to associate with an organization, one is truly voicing their opinions and representing themselves. Mr. Rotman should have suggested that Queen’s follow the model that has been legislated in Australia: a policy of voluntary student unionism.

In this model, students are not forced to support failing services or organizations which they might find morally reprehensible.

They represent themselves by actually agreeing or disagreeing with the student union instead of being forced into losing their individuality.

Dan Osborne,
ArtSci ’12, President,
Queen’s Campus Libertarian Association

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