Six members of the Somerville-Jesus Ball Committee have responded to complaints over the organisation of ‘The Last Ball’, without the co-oper- ation of the Committee’s executive.
In the letter, sent to both college JCRs and posted on a Facebook group en- titled ‘Somerville-Jesus Ball: An Open Letter to the Committee’, the six com- mittee members addressed complaints previously posted on the aforemen- ioned Facebook page. However, nei- ther the Ball Chairman, Treasurer or PR Manager were involved in the response.
The six offered the letter “not [as] an excuse, but [as] an explanation” and acknowledged that the vast major- ity of complaints had been “fair and courteous”. They claimed that most problems stemmed from the commit- tee consisting of “an insufficiently small group” with a “lack of experience”, and apologised for this oversight in recruit- ment. The six identified the “three key flaws” with the ball as “the organisation of food, the length of queues for the maze, and the tone of our publicity campaign.”
The letter began by addressing griev- ances over how long it had taken the Committee to respond to complaints, apologising for “the unacceptably large gap in time between the raising of these concerns, and the provision of this re- sponse.”
Lack of food provision for those with dietary requirements is described as “the biggest failure of the ball” in the letter, with the authors apologising “strongly” for this issue. The six ex- plained that this was due to inconsist- ent serving times and an underesti- mation in the number of meat-eaters choosing the vegetarian option.
assured them that one service point and eight staff would be sufficient to serve all the guests efficiently. They also point to delays in setting up due to traffic causing problems which also caused catering delays.
The letter also refers to calls indi- viduals have made for greater financial transparency from the committee, with the six assuring attendees that they were working on providing a break- down of the Ball’s finances. However, they suggested that as “the Ball Treas- urer is the only member of the com- mittee in possession of the accounts”, a financial breakdown would be difficult without his assistance.
The committee members blamed a number of problems on the advertis- ing of the Ball, suggesting that there was “an arrogance about our publicity campaign”. They continued: “In at- tempting to create hype and mystery
around the ball, we instead inculcated a sense of frustration and irritation, which created a negative outlook on the ball from the word go.”
However, the letter reassured ball- goers that no money was lost due to the cancellation of the advertised shark.
It also denies claims of embezzle- ment, describing these as “unfounded” and “unfair”, explaining that the de- cision to purchase instead of renting some items, including shisha pipes, was due to cost efficiency.
The committee members’ response has largely been met with a positive re- sponse, with one Facebook commenter saying: “It’s answered all the questions and concerns I had, with very valid explanations.”
They continued: “I think, given these circumstances, they did a very good job.”
Another commenter expressed simi-
lar sentiments, offering, “deep respect to all six of you for writing this.
“Acknowledging the legitimacy of criticisms about something you’ve invested so much time and effort in is far from a natural and easy thing for anyone to do, so the humility here is admirable.”
However, there are number of com- plaints from the original ‘Open Letter’ which the Committee’s response does not address. The six do not refer to the “very real health and safety haz- ard” of overcrowding around the hog roast, which led to burnt dresses and limbs. The letter also fails to explain why guests were not informed about the cancellation of music artists Can- cun Kid until 7am the morning after the Ball.
The Ball Chairman, Treasurer and PR Manager were all unavailable for comment over their lack of response.