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Saturday, May 25, 2024
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Student Association’s disorganization cost me my senior showcase

UB clubs deserve more than the bare minimum from SA — at least a little bit of respect

I joined UB’s Impulse Dance Force the fall semester of my freshman year. I quickly realized I had found a home on this massive, intimidating campus.

I met some of my best friends — the most talented and beautiful dancers I’ve ever met — through this club. As a freshman, I was inspired by the upperclassmen who expressed themselves so confidently through choreography. Now, as a senior and member of the e-board, I find myself looking at the dancers below me with immense pride and love.

My four years at UB were interrupted pretty early on by the turbulence of COVID-19. At home, I missed Impulse more than I missed anything else about college. The following year, meeting with the club to dance six feet apart and in our masks was the highlight of each week.

I have been dancing and performing in recitals for over a decade and this spring, it was finally time for my senior showcase— the last time I would ever dance on a stage.

Or not.

Four days before the big show, as family members and friends of almost 80 performers were buying tickets and making travel plans, our showcase got canceled.

Club members heard the news from their confused loved ones, as they were turned away from Ticketmaster and the Center for the Arts (CFA) ticket office. CFA workers told dancers their show was canceled without warning and before our club president, Jenna Bradshaw, could even think about how to break the devastating news.

Every necessary step was taken by the Impulse e-board throughout the semester to properly plan this show with CFA— as they have for four semesters now.

The date was secured with the CFA and approved on UBlinked at the very start of the spring semester. CFA is constantly busy hosting different events, so when our show was two weeks away, they were finally able to sit down with Bradshaw, finalize details and send Impulse their invoice. 

E-board members then immediately sent the invoice over to SA. SA usually asks for invoices to be submitted three weeks ahead of the event, but since CFA got to us a smidge later than that, it was out of our control.

That, combined with an inaccurate lack of funds in the Impulse account, proved fatal. 

Two weeks prior to showcase weekend, Impulse Dance Force held its semesterly banquet, which brings in a massive chunk of the club’s funding. We sold our banquet tickets through the UB Ticket Office, as usual, and the event brought in almost $1,000, but SA failed to get this money into our account in a timely manner. With this amount missing from our account, Bradshaw now found herself reading an email from SA saying they had canceled our showcase on behalf of CFA due to insufficient funds.

Bradshaw and Vice President Ashlynn Wrobleski spoke with a member of the SA finance team the following morning. They explained the situation and questioned why the banquet funds never hit our account. According to this SA member, the ticket office requires up to a week to verify sales, process the money and transfer the funds to SA accounts. But that explanation doesn’t hold up. Even if this were the case, at that point our banquet ticket sales had ended two weeks ago. 

SA simply told us there was nothing they could do.

So, this is where things left off before Bradshaw made the executive decision to cut our losses and plan an entirely new show. Of course, every location that even remotely resembled a theater had been long booked at that point, so SU 145 was the 100-member club’s only option. We had to break the unfortunate news that each dancer could only invite two guests, and the rest would have to watch via live stream.

It was heartbreaking for me and the rest of the seniors to conclude our dancing careers in a cramped room with plastic chairs and broken lights. It was also devastating for our talented choreographers who worked tirelessly all semester to not see their dances shine on a stage.

Senior pharmacy major Jess Hockler was especially crushed. She spent all semester choreographing and teaching a dance dedicated to her aunt, whom she lost to cancer.

“After putting in all of this hard work for the whole semester I think everyone felt blindsided. My family already had the hotel booked to come and see me, and it really disappointed all of us,” Hockler said. “I am thankful my family was still able to watch, but a part of me is still sad about how things ended up. Especially since a lot of my friends are graduating and this was our last performance together.”

International student and business major Minori Shimizu reflected on her experience. When it was hard to find home halfway across the world, Shimizu turned to Impulse to find a loving community.

“Even though I am not a native English speaker, Impulse and its members made my study abroad life very enjoyable because we are all working so hard together for the same goals,” Shimizu said. “This was not just my last showcase, but the last showcase for all the seniors. We deserve to perform on a stage to celebrate them.”

The missing funds from our banquet ticket sale ended up depositing into the Impulse account within two days of showcase. In two day’s time, we could have avoided this whole mess and held our CFA showcase like we’ve done every other semester.

Impulse e-board members were disappointed that SA couldn’t find a way to work with us a little more — whether that meant keeping the show at CFA or helping us find a new, adequate space. While we understand they have policies and procedures, to abruptly cancel a show with four days’ notice felt disrespectful, especially when the circumstances were completely out of our control.

“The whole point of SA is to support student clubs, and I didn’t feel like we got any support through this,” Wrobleski said. “They just gave us an answer and then turned us away.”

This is not the first time SA has made similar mistakes that let down student groups. Earlier this year, the UB men’s club hockey team had their away game transportation canceled by SA one day before their departure, all because SA didn’t deposit the club’s money into their account on time. That mistake also led to larger financial issues for the club.

Wrobleski says that despite these frustrating events, Impulse Dance Force is still willing to work with SA and would like to see their relationship improve. We would love to plan our next showcase with SA and CFA, but we hope that clubs are treated with more respect in the future.

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