AMA opts to nix event
Four hours before the start of the American Marketing Associations traditional progressive dinner Friday night, AMA president and senior Kim Olsen got a phone call.
It was from Angie Bong, coordinator for Student Leadership and Organizations.
“She had seen other progressive dinners in the past have problems,” Olsen said. “She said she was just really concerned about alcohol and the use of alcohol at the event and wanted to make sure I knew the policy.”
Whatever the intent, the call ultimately led AMA to decide to cancel its event as a precaution, even though the organization was attempting to follow university policy.
The new alcohol policies for organizations, passed at the end of last semester by Student Senate, state that no member dues are allowed to go toward alcohol and no organizational events can be held at a place, such as a bar, that isn’t acceptable for all ages, Olsen said.
Bong said her call wasn’t meant to inform the organization of any wrong doing, but rather to inform it of the consequences of certain actions.
“My job is to really help student organizations avoid risky situations,” she said. “Because the event was held at individuals’ homes, we were concerned about alcohol use and not having a third party vendor there . it wasn’t something where we said they had to cancel the event, so the decision was up to (Olsen).”
After further debate with the AMA executive board, Olsen said she decided to cancel the event because she got the impression that even if she had assured Bong the event was going to be completely dry, the university really didn’t want the dinner to be held.
Olsen said she agrees with the university’s policy and understands it’s legitimate for them to be wary about an event like the progressive dinner. AMA recently amended its constitution to cater to the new alcohol policy.
“We took all the necessary precautions ahead of time and it was just a bummer,” she said. “AMA has never been in trouble in the past, never been on probation and never really had any problems.”
One of the main responsibilities of senior Nick Vances as vice president of activities is to plan the progressive dinner. Vance said he was definitely upset when he heard the news of its cancellation.
“I was kind of frustrated because I didn’t really know the reasoning behind it all,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that such a professional, well-respected organization is forced to cancel (an event) because of problems not related to our organization.”
Vance said he understands the university’s concern, but added the progressive dinner wasn’t just “a random chaotic house party.”
“It’s more of a controlled atmosphere and we thought we were abiding by the rules,” he said. “I think that since AMA is so big, it was a good way for them to set an example for other organizations.”
Olsen said she thinks AMA is large enough for the university to make an example of with the new policy, but added she doesn’t think the organization was singled out.
“Angie was really nice about it all and she wasn’t attacking us,” Olsen said. “I didn’t feel threatened at all . I think part of the problem is the stigma associated with the progressive dinner label.”
Bong said she didn’t call Olsen because AMA is the second-largest organization on campus. Her real intention was to help AMA realize potential risks associated with the event, she said.
“In general, we’re trying to help organizations remain at least risk free,” Bong said. “We’re certainly not here to be nay-sayers and prevent organizations from doing what they want to do.”
Olsen said the group took all the necessary steps to follow the policies and hopes this doesn’t lead to future event cancellations.
“I want the university to know organizations are being really responsible and taking everything to heart in following these rules,” she said. “I hope they’ll let us do our own thing in the future and trust who we are.”