Six members of the Somerville-Jesus Ball Committee have written an open letter apologising for “key flaws” in the organisation of the event, and “arrogance” in its publicity campaign.
The letter acknowledges problems in the ball, especially, “the organisation of food, the length of queues for the maze, and the tone of our publicity campaign.” It goes on to say, “We would like to apologise for these mistakes, in particular with regards to the organisation of food; the provisions we made were very clearly insufficient, and this is not acceptable for an event commanding a ticket price of £110/£150.”
The letter has been signed by six of the ball’s nine committee members, including Operations Manager Eddie Shore, Head of Gastronomy Clara Collyns, and Head of Design Toby Mann. Three senior committee members, Chairman Sam Levin, Vice-Chairman and Treasurer Alwyn Clarke, and PR Manager Pete Endicott, did not sign the letter.
The letter is almost two thousand words long and gives a detailed analysis of the night’s flaws. It concludes by stating, “Whilst we would like to provide a breakdown for costs, and indeed this is something that the six of us are working on providing at some point hopefully in the not too distant future, the Ball Treasurer is the only member of the committee in possession of the accounts of the ball.”
Eddie Shore reading out the apology in Jesus JCR
The ball, which was held in Somerville on Saturday 4th May, was advertised as “one last night of decadence, debauchery, and indulgence’’. Yet it was criticised after allegations that it was mis-sold.
The original Facebook group was deleted after students condemned the event online. A separate Facebook group was created on Thursday which condemned the ball committee for having “unceremoniously censored… the many attempts to convey to the Committee the extreme dissatisfaction we felt in the execution of the ball.” The page currently has around 150 likes.
The latest letter from ball committee members acknowledges these complaints, apologising, “for the unacceptably large gap in time between the raising of these concerns, and the provision of this response.” It expresses hope their response is “fair, and we hope that once you have finished reading it, you will feel that we have been honest, open, and receptive to what you have all had to say.”
It goes on to identify “four main reasons” for the ball’s shortcomings: “misplaced trust in our catering company, poor set up due to unforeseeable problems, a lack of careful consideration of the demand for vegetarian food, and a lack of events management experience.” The letter continues, “These are not excuses, but explanations.”
The apology also states, “There was an arrogance about our publicity campaign, which has unfortunately continued well after the ball, and is something that, whilst unintentional, has caused a great deal of irritation, and for this, we would also like to apologise.”
Students’ responses to the letter have been mixed. One student who attended the ball told Cherwell, “An event costing this kind of money really shouldn’t be taken lightly and it is obvious from the response of the ball-goers that people are really upset. Therefore, I think it’s the committee’s duty to do their best to talk to people and try to rectify the situation as best as possible.”
The committee members who did not sign the letter were unavailable for comment on Monday night.