UCSB Associated Students held a press conference yesterday addressing allegations of property damages incurred during a weekend retreat at a private villa rented with student fees. The meeting marked the first time A.S. has publicly challenged the charges of breaching their contract with the owners.
At the meeting, A.S. distributed a report contesting several of the accusations levied in an e-mail by Morrocco Method International, the corporation that owns Villa Antonio. Additionally, A.S. responded to a Daily Nexus financial information request from Feb. 2 for itemized receipts of the retreat’s costs.
Food, lodging and cleaning fees for the Jan. 8-10 A.S. Legislative Council retreat tallied $3,691.44, although the university has yet to bill A.S. for usage of a Suburban and two vans for transportation.
A.S. charged $841.44 for food and nonalcoholic beverages. No alcoholic beverages were listed on the itemized receipts.
The $2,850 paid to Villa Antonio amounts to $1,500 for two nights’ lodging, $350 for cleaning and a $1,000 refundable deposit, which has not been returned to A.S.
Yesterday, the Daily Nexus received a copy of the Jan. 21 e-mail sent by Villa Antonio’s property managers to university officials detailing the damages incurred. The letter listed a total of $970.80 in damages, including fees for extra house cleaning, vomit removal, new ceiling lights, paint touch-ups, fence repairs, a torn-out elephant wall piece and an extra trash run to dispose of alcohol bottles.
The company also listed that the students left behind 40 beer cans, five handles of hard liquor — 1.75 liters of alcohol each — and a quart of Jack Daniel’s.
“The villa was absolutely trashed, it was left in filthy and in horrible condition,” Office Manager Tristin McGuffick wrote in the e-mail. “Had we known that this is the type of ‘retreat’ you were hosting we would not have rented to you.”
According to A.S. Attorney Robin Unander, A.S. is challenging $690 of the damages attributed to extra house cleaning, vomit removal, paint touch-ups and the extra trash run. Furthermore, despite Lance Heck of MMI’s allegations to the Daily Nexus that a chaperone’s presence was required by contract at the villa, Unander stated that the written contract did not stipulate such a clause.
Allegations that members of Legislative Council were drinking during the official retreat are being dealt with, A.S. Executive Director Marisela Marquez said.
“It’s being investigated and taken seriously,” Marquez said.
Marquez said she was unaware of the ages of those attending the retreat and had no statistical information on the birthdates of individual Legislative Council members.
“I’m not going to provide you with their ages,” Marquez said. “I have no way of verifying these demographics. The investigation is continuing into this matter.”
According to the A.S. report, Student Government Advisor Charity Agomuo — the staff member in attendance at the retreat — did not see any alcoholic beverages throughout the weekend.
While the letter from MMI demanded payment for cleaning up vomit, the A.S. report also states that none of the students said they vomited at the villa.
An unnamed council member who commented in the retreat evaluation report said the group is not entirely responsible for the condition of the property.
“On behalf of my council I apologize for the damages that have happened, but assure you that all damages that are alleged did not happen,” the council member wrote.
The A.S. evaluation also featured a narrative prepared by Agomuo of the weekend’s events. She detailed teambuilding activities and discussions of future Legislative Council business, and also wrote that after a walkthrough she “did not believe the house was trashed or left in a filthy condition… leaving on Sunday, the staff member was actually quite proud and glad that the retreat went well.”
The report also noted one instance of confirmed damage in the villa — a ceiling light that needed to be replaced.
“A student reported he damaged [the lamp] on Sunday 1/20/2010 morning, that he broke this lamp, while putting [on] his shirt,” the report states. “He explained he was forcing his arm through the sleeve and hit the lamp.”
At the conclusion of the press conference, A.S. President Charlie Arreola declined to answer how A.S. planned to restore students’ trust in their elected representatives.
“I would prefer not to comment,” Arreola said. “I don’t want tidbits of information to come out. It’s already been manipulated and I would rather wait until everything is out, and then present what happened.”