Before I go into the AUS restructuring that took place in my year, let me talk a little bit about some of the other things I was doing at the same time.
Frosh or nothing
Over the summer, one of the biggest challenges faced by the incoming executive each year is organizing Frosh. Although it is chiefly the VP Events responsibility, any other exec who are staying behind in the summer are supposed to help out too. The VP Events, along with the Frosh co-ordinators, work on everything from the logistics to sponsorship and communication over the summer to make sure that incoming freshmen have a safe and memorable start to their college years. Frosh also sets the mark for how the new AUS executive will be seen for the rest of the year- get it wrong and you spend the year under its shadow, get it right and it lends credibility to the competence of your executive team.
A good frosh is a safe frosh
It is very important to emphasise the word ‘safe’ here. Safety was our primary concern when organizing Frosh. Frosh usually involves a lot of alcohol consumption for people who may never have had alcohol before, and so managing people who do not yet know their limits and are in a new city is of the utmost importance. We were also trying to shift the culture of Frosh from being alcohol-centric to more about getting to know Montreal and meeting new people in a comfortable environment, but such change takes time.
Frosh and finance usually don’t go well together
As VP Finance, I was responsible for providing financial planning and support and for approving the Frosh budget. I also helped out with getting sponsorships, but the majority of that work was handled by the Frosh sponsorship coordinators. Financially, AUS frosh had seen many controversies over the previous few years, with the theft of $12,000 in 2011-12 and a $35,000 loss in 2009-10, so I had to make sure that frosh finances were completely airtight in my year.
The one week period before the start of frosh was incredibly stressful. For the last three days of registration, I had difficulty sleeping as we were looking at $40,000 dollar loss if registrations had not picked up significantly. I also had to deal with constantly thinking about the thousands of dollars flowing from the registration table to the AUS office being lost to theft, as had happened in the year before. When registration ended and I deposited all our frosh funds at the bank, then only could I relax a little.
I still had to go through frosh itself, making sure that everything was running smoothly and helping out where possible. Beach day was terrible, as it almost always is, with no organization for the bus lineup and thousands of students waiting to go back home. Beach day is organized by SSMU so the onus was on them, however we inevitably ended up helping organize the departure along with some MUS coordinators and the SSMU president.
Early taste of success
AUS frosh our year was considered an overall success. The few problems we did have were mostly things completely out of our control, and the response and level-headedness shown by the frosh coordinators was all we could have asked for. The hats we provided with the Frosh kits were a brilliant idea, and have since become almost a cultural phenomenon in the college-student demographic in Montreal. Overall, frosh our year was a resounding success, people loved the hats, the boat cruise was re-introduced, and we had alternative all-age events for every single night.
Financially speaking, frosh turned out to be incredibly successful too, much to my surprise. I had been expecting a small profit of $3000 to $5000, but after all the revenue had come in and all payments had been made, we ended up with a net profit of $17,000. This was a nice break from years past, where frosh had always marked the start of a financially turbulent year for the AUS. So not only were we able to provide a great experience to incoming Arts freshmen, we also managed to make a nice profit out of it for the AUS.