Students’ prize trip no dream vacation

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By Sheila Avari

Winning a “blind date” trip to Florida from RyeSAC was no dream vacation for two students who were left hungry and penniless.

“Thanks a lot for sending me for a week to starve,” said Tari Rehsi, the third-year mechanical engineering student who won the trip. “You would think RyeSAC would do what they say but everyone shafted us.”

V.p. administration Jason Power had promised to give Rehsi spending cash, but the money never came.

Rehsi won the reading week trip for two to Daytona Beach at the RyeSAC-sponsored Blind Date draw in February. The prize included transportation and hotel accommodation.

Rehsi decided to bring his friend Amndeep Pannu, a first-year diploma student. But there was a problem — the pair had no money for food. When they mentioned this to event organizer Power, he said he’d help them.

“He told us prize money wasn’t included in the trip but then he came out and offered to give us the money. He said $500 at the most,” Rehsi recalled, thinking it was a good deal.

It turned out to be too good.

Power didn’t have the money when the students came to pick it up 15 minutes before leaving for the trip, but he promised to wire it to them in Florida.

Rehsi and Pannu had enough to pay for food during the bus ride down, but were nearly broke after having to leave a $100 (US) security deposit at the hotel. “We had just enough money to buy a pizza,” Rehsi said. “After that, we were penniless.”

When they called Power to get the money wired, they found the number he gave them belonged to an inactive cell phone. After several unaccepted collect calls to RyeSAC and being hung up on by security three times, they were finally able to leave Power a message.

One-and-a-half days later, Power walled them at the hotel to say the money wasn’t coming.

Rehsi recalls his reply: “I’ve got 11 cents in my pocket,”He told Power over the phone. “I can’t even afford a stamp to mail you a postcard.” Power had asked Rehsi to mail him a postcard from Florida.

Stranded, with no cash and no hope of getting any cash from RyeSAC, Pannu called his ex-girlfriend to wire him some money for food. When the money ran out again, they checked out of the hotel to get the $100 (US) deposit back.

“That night we were so hungry we went to a buffet and got a bottle of Alizé and got sloshed,” Rehsi said.

Power admits he agree to give the two students $150 (US) but couldn’t come through with the cash. “I talked to Vlad [Vasilko, RyeSAC’s v.p. development and finance] and John Fabrizio [RyeSAC general manager] about it but they didn’t want to do it,” he said. “I tried to get them the money so I do feel badly. They definitely got the short end of the stick.”

Power resigned from his position at RyeSAC Tuesday after being asked to do so by the executive committee. One of the committee’s reasons is Power went over his budget.

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