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Fed bodies criticize vp social  for cancellation, citing lack of communication

Photo:Marta Kierkus

Dissatisfaction with the vice-president social of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa has snowballed following a lackluster Winter Challenge, and the cancellation of the annual snow fort building contest.

Christine Backs, vice-president social of the Engineering Students’ Society (ESS), said she’s frustrated by the lack of communication because she had tried to get more information about the event for two weeks prior to the start of the Winter Challenge.

Guerre de Toque, the annual snow fort-building contest is part of Backs’ mandate as vice-president social, and the ESS has participated year after year. She said she received confirmation about the event too late “to even consider participating.”

“The event costs $400 to participate, and requires at a minimum 20 competitors and two captains,” Backs wrote in an email to the Fulcrum.

Both this year and last year’s Guerre de Toque were scheduled for a Thursday and Friday, instead of Friday and Saturday like in previous years.

Hanna Fazal, vice-president social of the Students’ Association of the Faculty of Arts, said the dates showed “no consideration to those in class or (who) had work.”

Fazal is also one of the organizers of a petition calling for the impeachment of the SFUO’s vice-president social, Ikram Hamoud.

“I based myself on last year’s Winter Challenge, and it was on the Thursday, and there weren’t any problems,” said Hamoud.

She maintains that she kept the fed bodies up to date about Guerre de Toque during their roundtable Nov. 27, where she informed them the event would be held on the Thursday, and that she posted the meeting minutes online with the specific dates for those who didn’t attend.

The SFUO lowered registration fees by $100 to no avail—only the Economics Students’ Association (ESA) signed up.

“It’s just frustrating that the people who are volunteers deliver, and then the people that are paid don’t,” said Colin Guldimann, vice-president social of the ESS, who said he was told at around 4 p.m. the day before the event was to take place that his team was the only one to register.

Hamoud gave Guldimann the opportunity to still participate, he said, but his team “couldn’t justify” spending $400 on the snow fort contest against no other competitors.

Guldimann said he was told later that evening that the SFUO would waive their registration fee, but by then his team had already decided to drop out.

“It was just kind of frustrating for us because (the cost) was a big part of what we made the decision on,” he said.

Guldimann said he’s also not satisfied with the work the SFUO put into the Winter Challenge overall.

“It just hasn’t been one of those things that seems to be big on their agenda… it just feels half-assed.”

This year the SFUO took a different approach, opting for smaller daily prizes as opposed to the big vacation prizes offered at the end of the week as in previous years.

“What was different this year was people were able to participate in Winter Challenge without being in a team and without being forced to participate the whole week,” said Hamoud.

That new take may be the cause for a drop in participation this year, according to volunteer coordinator Sunny Bui. Hamoud said the Winter Challenge saw a good turnout, but Bui, who also worked on the event last year, said the numbers were down.

“Compared to last year there has been less student involvement,” he said.