By Vanessa Thomas
The Oakham House debating society failed to talk themselves into a $2,200 budget reallocation — $1,800 for airfare and $400 for registration — to attend the world debating championships in Athens, Greece.
The Oakham House Management Board voted unanimously against shifting funds from the debating societies’ $6,200 projected budget to accommodate the trip at an emergency meeting last Friday.
“I voted against the debaters going to Greece because their original budget did not include this event,” said Angelo DeLuca, RyeSAC president. “The change of budget would wipe out any debates that any fellow debaters could attend, just to that two people could attend.
“They [debating] didn’t qualify for the competition, they were just invited,” he said.
Melanie Marshall, president of the debating society, called the decision irrational.
“The decision was made before they even entered the meeting. The meeting was just held for appearances with the media,” she said.
The Management Board — which RyeSAC has a majority — gained control of the societies last year. There are no existing policies to regulate the operation of societies.
“Because these societies are so new to us, we’re just making this up as we go along,” said John Fabrizio, RyeSAC’s general manager.
Marshall and Shane Dingman, VP external of debating, were unanimously chosen to attend the Championship in Greece by all 30 members of the debating society — 13 of which are active members.
“It’s a huge mistake and I don’t think they understand the ramifications. [The board’s] decision has told me that they don’t care about societies flourishing,” said Dingman.
“This is the largest non-athletic competition of its kind,” said Marshall. “How can we ever grow as a team is we don’t ever take that step.”
Marshall — one of Canada’s top 10 debaters — was invited to be the Canadian representative at the International Debating Women’s Caucus at the Greece championship.
The debating society put in a $2,200 cheque to attend the Greece Championship to Leatrice Spevack, student groups coordinator, at the end of October, who sent it on through Fabrizio, then to the Oakham House Management Board.
“Because I have no policies to work with I felt that it would be irresponsible of me to say OK,” said Spevack.
The debating society is supposed to fundraise for events, but has not money to show so far.
“We were told that we can’t sell chocolate in Jorgenson, we’re having problems with arranging a Bingo Hall and we’re trying corporate sponsorship,” said MArshall. “If there’s a magic fundraising tree let me know.”
“There is a fundraising tree, and it’s called work,” DeLuca said. “I want to help them, but Oakham House is not their sole means of fundraising — they can speak themselves into sponsorship.”