Sometime between October 31, 2017 and November 10, 2017, $800 in cash went missing from the Victoria College Drama Society (VCDS) cash box, located in a locked office. According to the society, eight members of VCDS have access to the office, located within the larger Victoria University Students’ Administrative Council (VUSAC) office, as do housekeeping staff and the VUSAC president. VCDS believes the money was stolen.
While cleaning their office during the fall reading week, VCDS co-producers Alyssa DiBattista and Leora Nash discovered the empty cash box, but they originally thought nothing of it.
“We assumed that our Chief Financial Officer, George Wilson, must have deposited the revenue from our first show into our bank account. Later in the month (before our second show), however, George went to count the amount in the money box, to be used as a float for our second show, only to find that there was only the small amount I had seen during reading week,” wrote DiBattista.
Wilson wrote that much of the money allegedly stolen had been “inherited by past years executives who often kept cash from shows in the office,” assuming the cash was revenue from past shows. Most of that money was deposited into VCDS’ bank account, but the money in the cashbox at the time of the supposed robbery was kept as float for the VCDS production of Colours in the Storm, which ran in mid-October of last year. The $800 consisted of the float cash and one night’s revenue from the show.
DiBattista clarified that the VCDS exec assumed that the money was stolen because only she, Nash, and Wilson deal with money or the cash box. “We didn’t want to conclude that the money had been removed illicitly but it became more and more clear to us; no one else had used the money box on official business since the end of our first show. At some point, it just disappeared, and the only reason we could conclude was that someone got access or had access to the office, and took the money.”
The incident has resulted in the VCDS employing stricter policies regarding how it handles its cash. “While there have always been official policies on money handling and counting, there had never really been anything specifically addressing money in the locked VCDS office,” said Wilson. According to Wilson, the new policy is that no cash will be left unattended in the VCDS office, and the drama society will now be using VUSAC’s safe or VCDS’ own bank account whenever possible.
Additionally, non-VCDS members will not be allowed in the office outside of normal hours, and keyholders will only be allowed to enter the office for VCDS purposes. “Our fall production of The Drowsy Chaperone occurred under these new policies without incident, and we believe the policies will continue to succeed,” said Wilson.
DiBattista claimed that there was a history of stolen money within the VUSAC office. “However, this was the first time money was stolen from inside a private, locked office at VUSAC and it was also the largest amount of money stolen, so we felt the need to respond thoroughly. We feel extremely disappointed because the purpose of having an office for our organization is to have a safe and useful space, but that’s been compromised, and it feels violating,” wrote DiBattista.
The co-producers brought up the matter at a VUSAC meeting but were advised that there could not be an investigation. They were asked to consider more secure methods for storing funds that must remain in the office for short periods of time.
As to why there was no investigation, VUSAC President Zahavah Kay said, “Ultimately it was decided that the best and most practical solution was to improve security moving forward. VUSAC has supported this decision by recommending all levies purchase safes for their offices, limit key sharing, and keep the office locked at all times.” VUSAC itself has also increased security by decreasing the number of office keys distributed, as well as limiting after-hours access to the office.
As of press time, there is no update to the identity of a perpetrator, and Campus Police have not been informed of the alleged theft.
Correction (January 8): a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that only eight people have access to the VCDS office, and that the cash box was locked. In fact, the cash box does not have a lock, and eight members of VCDS, as well as the VUSAC president and housekeeping staff, have access to the office.