By Shane Dingman
A month ago RyeSAC’s Board of Directors recognized the Japanese Art Appreciation Society as an official RyeSAC student group. Last Thursday the board realized that it made a booboo.
Martin Aziz, of University of Ryerson Anime, a club celebrating Japanese animation, sent a scathing letter to Leatrice Spevack, student groups coordinator.
In it he accuses Robert Wong, president and spokesman of JAAS, of duping the board into believing he was a Ryerson student, a violation for any student group.
“Cultural groups may not duplicate services offered by any currently existing groups,” according to the RyeSAC Student Groups Manual. Aziz’s letter pointed out while Wong claims to run an art appreciation society, store-bought sushi and promises to do origami do not a unique club make.
The complaint went to Kathleen Bontigao, the course unions and student groups commissioner. “We approached him and asked for his student ID, and he said, ‘Uh, let me get back to you with that.’ We gave him an ultimatum to prove he was a student, and he never showed up. We’ve been trying to contact him since.”
Bontigao cancelled the show planned for last Friday, after hearing of the five-hour Anime JAAS event on Feb. 28, a duplication of URanime’s services.
RyeSAC is investigating claims made by URanime that JAAS is in fact just an ex-U of T club called Club Anime!!!. The group has a webpage describing who they are and what they are about.
What they are about is charging a membership fee of $5 a year to “U of T Community (staff, students, alumnae, ect.)” and $10 a year to “Others.” They charge $3 per showing and claim to be open to all membership. If you click on “Next showing” a page comes up reading “JAAS PRESENTS, Friday February 28” along with the address of the mini-theatre in room A60 in Jorgenson Hall.
Aziz says that when members from URanime went to investigate JAAS for themselves large signs saying “Club Anime!!! This way!” He also says Wong greeted them wearing a name tag that said “Club Anime Spokesman” and told them his club wasn’t infringing on URanime because it already had an established membership. Aziz asks, “How can a newly formed club have an established following?”
Although the club is officially on probation and no RyeSAC money has been lost, Rob Greene, external affairs commissioner, is treating the incident seriously. “Maybe in the future we should make sure [a group’s] president is a student, because we’re gonna look like idiots if we do it again.”