ACF Cancelled

This just in as a press release from the AUS:

March 16, 2009 – Despite months of planning and organization, Arts County Fair will not be not be revived in 2009. Approval for the Arts Undergraduate Society’s (AUS) April 3, 2009 event has been denied by the UBC Classroom Services and the RCMP. This event, a revival of the largest student run event in Canada which was forced to be cancelled due to logistical difficulties in 2007, was to be held on Main Mall between the Flag Pole Plaza and Neil Wyman Plaza. Preparations and early promotions were already underway, in the assumption that an agreement in good faith could be reached with all relevant parties. During the process, the AUS consistently approached concerns with nothing but good faith and a willingness to compromise in order to ensure that this event could take place. Through such a process,Capt. Bill Douglas of Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services and the AUS were able to modify the event plans appropriately, gaining the approval of the VFRS. Similar meeting took place with the RCMP’s Sgt. Dan Wendland. Classroom Services denied the AUS’ request to book the Main Mall venue on February 26, 2009, citing “concerns raised by internal parties at UBC.” AUS requests for more information, including suggestions on how to change the event plan to gain approval were not answered. The AUS began an appeal of Classroom Services’ decision, finally being granted a meeting with Classroom Services staff. On March 13th, the AUS was notified by Classroom Services that the RCMP’s University Detachment has was refusing to entertain any request for the Main Mall venue, despite verbal agreements to the contrary. “I was shocked at the decision,” said event organizer Mike Kushnir, “I had expected that the good word and the handshake of Sgt. Wendland would hold our agreement in principle until other logistical difficulties could be dealt with.”
The AUS and RCMP had tentatively negotiated a capacity of 2,500 patrons, on the clearly stated understanding of the AUS that, in order to ensure sufficient supplementary police resources would be available, the AUS may be expected to cover some of those costs. The AUS is disappointed by the lack of willingness to negotiate and collaborate in good faith on the part of Classroom Services. The inability to secure meetings to engage in a dialogue regarding existing concerns was a significant problem – only after speaking with senior administrators in the VP Students office was a request to meet with Justin Marples, head of Classroom Services, granted. During the meeting Marples was adversarial and disrespectful, displaying the lack of good faith that has characterized this process.
The AUS had been willing to make significant changes to event plans and specifically meet with and address concerns of campus stakeholders. “It seems to me as if we were the only ones in this process with any willingness to come to the table,” said AUS President Avneet ‘AJ’ Johal.

Sorry about the formatting- I’ll try to fix it a touch later. Thoughts on the matter? I’m always slightly skeptical when I do hear only one side of the story, and it seems that a statement such as this won’t do the AUS too many favours if they would like to hold the ACF in future years (calling someone adversarial and disrespectful is a touch antagonistic, no?). It seems that the only way to really be able to have the ACF again is to demonstrate that the AUS is capable of hosting a big event that does not result in the problems of previous years. It’s too bad that Classroom Services was not willing to uphold the verbal agreement, however, as that doesn’t do much to strengthen the relationship between students and the university- really, both sides need to demonstrate a degree of trust. And maybe a written agreement would be better next time, given that verbal statements can be interpreted differently by different parties.


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  1. I’d like it we could get a statement from the RCMP as to why they wouldn’t entertain the request. Did the Sergeant overstep his authority in making a verbal commitment?

    Posted by Diddly | March 17, 2009, 3:33 pm
  2. All one needs to do is ask the RCMP. They’re just a phone call away.

    After all, isn’t a big part of journalism about seeking out differing opinions?

    Posted by Eddie | March 29, 2009, 11:35 pm
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