The Victoria University Students’ Administrative Council (VUSAC) is looking into stronger policies regarding event ticket sales and cash security after approximately $500 in ticket sales for VUSAC’s Code Red semi-formal event, which took place on November 24, went missing.
The details of the missing money were revealed at a VUSAC council meeting on January 20; exact amount of money missing is unclear given that there were discrepancies with recording and selling tickets for the event.
The missing money
Following ticket sales from the night of the event — which were placed inside the same cash box containing the money from ticket sales prior to the date of the event — Scarlet and Gold Commissioner for VUSAC Zahavah Kay briefly sorted the money and placed the box inside a cabinet where the printer money is stored in the VUSAC office.
During the meeting, Kay said that she initially wanted to put the box inside the president’s office, but the three people who had access to that office — VUSAC Co-President Stuart Norton, VUSAC Co-President Rahul Christoffersen, and then-VUSAC Finance Chair Nicole Gumapac — were not there.
Kay then messaged Gumapac letting them know the whereabouts of the money.
Two days later, Kay and Nicole returned to the cabinet to collect the cash box and, as Kay says, “visually” she could tell that money was missing.
Although only three VUSAC executives have access to the president’s office, over 50 people have keys to the main VUSAC office located in the atrium of the Goldring Student Centre.
At VUSAC’s January 20 council meeting, Kay said “a lot of people, beyond just the members of VUSAC, have access to that office. And I know a lot of people have keys to access the office, they might also have friends with them to study late at night – there are people in and out of the office all the time.”
In an email to The Varsity, Norton and Christoffersen said, “Any number of individuals could have gone into the money box during the days it was in the filing cabinet and taken the money.”
It is unclear who was responsible for the money going missing. Kay stressed at the meeting the importance of moving forward and preventing similar incidents, saying: “This is not at all to name names, this is not about figuring out what happened to it. There is no way for us to figure out what happened to it. There are no cameras in the office. This is more about how we can move forward to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Concerns with ticket sales
VUSAC Vice-President External Steve Warner and VUSAC Finance Councillor Peter Huycke — who has also recently taken on the role of the Finance Chair — did an audit of the ticket sales to understand how many tickets were sold, how much money was initially in the cash box, and how much money had gone missing.
Following the incident, there was $1,110 in the cash box, which would suggest that 110 tickets were sold, given that each ticket cost $10.
Warner and Huycke found out that 139 tickets were sold, according to the Google spreadsheet that ticket sales were recorded on. This would suggest that $1,390 was in the cash box, prior to the money going missing.
When cross-referencing the tickets and the spreadsheet, Warner and Huycke discovered that an additional 22 tickets were not there but were not recorded as being sold. The assumption was that these tickets were in fact sold, but not recorded — which brings the total number of tickets sold to 161 with $1,610 supposed to be in the cash box.
Given that $1,110 was found in the box a couple days after the event, Warner concludes that roughly $500 was missing.
“Obviously we’re working under a number of assumptions there just because the record-keeping here,” he stated, during the meeting. “So, $500 is our best guess.”
A variety of potential improvements in securing money and selling tickets were discussed at the latest council meeting. Primary concerns were improvements to the security of money within the VUSAC office as well as tweaking the ticket selling process to ensure there are no inconsistencies.
“We need to improve our flow of the cash box so that we don’t leave substantial amount of money in the main office when over 50 people have keys to it,” said Warner. “And we need to make sure that we’re depositing the cash box at the end of events into a locked safe place.”
Huycke suggested having a single device to record all sales instead of a spreadsheet that VUSAC council members access through their email accounts.
Huycke brought this suggestion forward at the council meeting saying, “The problem is that everyone has their own laptops and it gets really confusing when you have a spreadsheet that you only have access to on a certain email and you have to go in and out and new laptops come and go.”
In a statement posted on its Facebook page, VUSAC commented on potential solutions writing, “We are now working to create stronger policies surrounding ticket sales, including more consistent ticket sale record-keeping, more regular deposits of money, and safer storage of cash boxes.” Norton and Christoffersen mentioned that VUSAC is also “reinforcing our existing” policies.
“We’re immensely disappointed that something like this has happened in our community, particularly as it is student money that has been taken. We would like to extend out apologies to the Victoria College community, and we will continue to work towards maintaining the trust of our members,” Norton and Christoffersen wrote.
The Varsity has reached out to Kay for comment on this story.
Editor’s note: a previous version of this article mistaken said that Warner had assumed the role of Finance Chair. Huycke, not Warner, is the acting-Finance Chair.