Harvard-Radcliffe Rock for Shelter members yesterday expressed anger that Undergraduate Council Chair Michael P. Beys '94 was pressured to allot Phillips Brooks House $3,000 earmarked for Rock for Shelter use.
Tracey H. Stokes '95, Theresa F. Loong '94 and John R. Holena '94, who were involved with the Rock for Shelter concert, all said independently yesterday that Beys told them that he had been "blackmailed" last October by Phillips Brooks House (PBH) Homeless Chair Christopher J. Davidson '95.
At stake is $3,000 in Rock for Shelter corporate sponsorships, placed in the council's bank account, which coordinators say should have been distributed through Rock for Shelter to defray startup costs and to sponsor a larger concert this year.
Last October, Beys, then council treasurer, wrote PBH a $3,000 check for use in their homeless program. As required by the council's by-laws, the check was signed by either the chair or vice-chair, neither of whom could confirm the signature yesterday.
Stokes said Beys told her he was blackmailed by Davidson before the October election, in which Beys won the post of vice-chair. Stokes said Beys said he gave the $3,000 "under the table."
Beys acknowledge that he was "pressured" to allocate the $3,000 to PBH soon before the election.
"[Davidson] made it clear to me that he had the backing of a lot of people on the council who said it should go to him," Beys said. "They're not lying. But I wouldn't call it blackmail. The term was used casually. It was nothing more than pressuring me to act."
And Davidson also denied he blackmailed Beys, saying he has no influence over council members. "I don't know more than three people on the council," Davidson said.
Davidson said he sent a funding proposal to Beys which "explained the merits of the program and why [The Homeless Program] needed the money."
But Loong called Beys "weak and scared," saying both Beys and Davidson were at fault.
"I'm upset and disappointed because a person made an arbitrary decision claiming blackmail," Loong said.
Loong said Davidson's opinion of Beys "could have made a difference" in the election. "Chris is persuasive and very persistent," Loong said.
"That $3,000 was Rock for Shelter's money to go to shelters," said Tracy H. Stokes, Co-Chair of Rock for Shelter.
A proposal by the council's social committee to grant Rock for Shelter $1,950 in new funding for this year's concert will be discussed at Sunday's council meeting.
Beys said yesterday there "were no rules" in the legislation dictating where the money should go. In addition, Beys said he tried to contact Holena and other Rock for Shelter representatives concerning the distribution of the money, but they "were nowhere to be found."
"In the absence of responsible parties I found myself in a position in which I had to act," Beys said. "There was a lot of pressure."
Malcolm A. Heinicke '93, who was council vice-chair when the $3,000 was allocated, said he understood the existence of some confusion.
"If it was in the U.C. bank account then Beys has authority as treasurer over that money. But I can understand that there's room for miscommunication," Heinicke said.
Carey W. Gabay '94, the current council treasurer, said the council was confused is to whose money it was. He said Beys had tried to call Holena about the funds but was unable to reach him.
David A. Aronberg '93, who was council chair in October, said he didn't recall discussing the matter with Beys.
After last spring's Rock for Shelter concert featuring De La Soul, $3,500 in corporate pledges remained in the council's bank account. The council gave $500 to PBH soon after the concert, as Holena said was agreed to by Rock for Shelter representatives.
The remainder of the $3,000 was to remain in the council's account. Holena said Rock for Shelter had originally planned to use a portion of the $3,000 for start-up costs, since becoming independent this year.
Stokes said Rock for Shelter met in November and decided to keep $3,000 in the bank and use the funds to attract a big-name band for the next year's concert.
But when Stokes went to check on the money three weeks ago, it was gone, she said. Stokes said she called Davidson, who explained that he could not return the money.
Stokes said that after realizing that she had no money for this year's concert, she went to the council's Sunday night meeting this week to request funding. She then attended a meeting of the social committee Tuesday night, at which point the committee proposed allotting $1,950 for the concert.
Elie G. Kaunfer contributed to the reporting of this story.