Every year, the AMS hosts the All Presidents' Dinner “to bring together passionate student leaders of all student groups on campus.”
But many presidents didn’t receive an invite to the dinner this year — which has led to complaints of intentional exclusion and scrutiny on the AMS’s spending on the annual event.
A number of major AMS clubs were not invited to attend the March 22 dinner on the basis that there wasn’t enough space in the Great Hall for the more than 60 out of more than 400 AMS clubs. (Full disclosure: Four Ubyssey editors were invited to and attended the dinner. They did not participate in the editing of this piece.)
Many of the club presidents who hadn’t been invited didn’t know that the event was happening until they talked to friends in other clubs.
Andrea Hurtado Fuentes, the president of the UBC Latin Dance Club, asked VP Admin and incoming President Chris Hakim why she hadn’t been invited despite her club having over 200 members. She was told the venue’s size meant the AMS had to limit the number of clubs to invite.
“It absolutely feels arbitrary to me,” she said. Fuentes speculated that she wasn’t invited because of the issues she raised about the VP Admin portfolio while campaigning for the position this March. Fuentes added that the club awards nomination form was sent out with the dinner invitation, which meant only clubs that were invited could nominate groups for the awards.
“I don't think that it is fair nor equitable to all the clubs,” she said, “You’re not ... giving everyone the opportunity to say, ‘Hey, this is my club. It's the best one out there and here, here's why.’”
At 7 p.m. on March 21 — the day before the dinner — Fuentes received an email from the AMS with an invitation. She decided to attend with one of her executives because she didn’t want to potentially create friction between the AMS and the incoming president of the Latin Dance Club.
“I am trying to ... accept whatever olive branch they're trying to hand us,” she said.
But many club leaders were not as fortunate.
“To me it feels like a very selective and almost elitist approach to the All Presidents' Dinner,” said Maria Lee, president of UBC Swing Kids. “I question how this will bode for AMS next year as the current VP Admin is becoming the President, not even taking into account the general lack of communication between clubs and the AMS.”
An expensive dinner
The size of the All Presidents' Dinner appears to have cost the AMS a fair deal of cash in the past.
Last year's spending on the dinner — which include complimentary meals and drink services — went considerably over budget, according to AMS documents.
Last year’s event cost the society $28,429 — more than twice their budget of $12,000. That was also the budget for this year’s dinner, although AMS Council has not received an official update as to its costs.
The AMS was contacted for comment multiple times between March 21 and the date of publication, but did not offer comment.