Three Arts students – Geoffrey Hall, Stephen Antoline, and Nathan Tockerchuk – successfully sued the Arts Undergraduate Story (AUS) this summer for $14,000 in back-payments they were owed for coordinating the 2007 Arts Frosh.
AUS President Nick Wolf and Hall, both said that the dispute began over a poorly written contract.
“It came down to a difference of interpretation between coupons and gift certificates,” said Wolf. “The coordinators thought [À la Carte coupons] should be counted as gift certificates, but the AUS vehemently disagreed.”
The coordinators, who were supposed to receive a cut of the advertising revenues, sued over differing interpretations with AUS over what constituted their share.
Hall, now a McGill alumni, said that Elizabeth Mirhady, 2007-2008 AUS VP Finance, had budgeted enough to pay the all three coordinators their full salary, but they were only awarded half of it.
“When I was working with [Mirhady], we were only working on a budget for 1,000 [froshies] to be safe, but 1,200 showed up…. That was enough money to pay the fees of the coordinators,” Hall said.
Hall was also suspicious of the figures AUS presented in court that revealed a round, $500 defecit for frosh – plausibly made up.
The tight-lipped AUS was initially hesitant to reveal information about the case, which had been kept off-the-radar all year, until rumours of undisclosed budget cuts, outsourcing of the AUS handbook to China, and running Frosh to make a profit all in order to cover losses surfaced only days after the semester began.
But the AUS countered the rumours and declared that they began planning contingencies in December, when the case was filed, should they lose the case.
“Departmental funding vital to advancing student life was unaffected,” said an AUS press release. “Unessential expenditures such as supplemental departmental funding and materials were reduced or cut.”
RJ Kelford, the 2007-2008 AUS president, admitted by email that it was a sore topic, but refused to comment further, claiming he was no longer a spokesperson for AUS.
While AUS VP External Hanchu Chen claimed that a lawyer had looked over the 2007 contract pro bono, he would not give a name because it had been a personal favour. Hall contended there was never a lawyer present.
“That is factually incorrect,” he said. “In fact [it’s] impossible, given the timeline of writing, drafting, and editing the contract,” he said of Chen’s claim.
Kelford, Chen, and Wolf all said that the AUS will improve their ways now by consulting lawyers, thus creating better contracts.
A former AUS councillor, who ical of AUS’ handling of the incident.
“The AUS runs a shady operation. They didn’t deal with the coordinators in a professional way, [so] they got what they reasonably deserved. The contracts they wrote were shitty so [the coordinators] won.”