Upscale NHS officer dinner raises eyebrows: Members disagree on appropriateness of dinner

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Miles Hutson, Staff Writer

While all NHS officers are invited to a celebratory dinner at Fogo de Chao on May 23, officer senior Ann Cai has already decided that she won’t be attending.

“I’ve actually heard a lot of complaints from other members,” Cai said. “I didn’t think it was appropriate for me to attend a function that members themselves didn’t approve.”

The dinner will be paid for from NHS funds, which are raised from $20 member fees. Cai, the tutoring and personal project coordinator for NHS, said that she had not had an issue with a lunch that officers had at Chili’s, or the cabinet of snacks that they keep stocked, but that the use of funds for a $45 per person dinner at Fogo de Chao made her feel uncomfortable.

“Officers do work very hard throughout the year, perhaps they do deserve an award of some sort,” Cai said. “But it is a volunteer organization, and maybe a dinner at Fogo de Chao, or a very expensive dinner at that, is probably not as appropriate.”

Max Lu, an NHS member, concurred, and said that he wasn’t aware that his funds would be used for this.

“An officer dinner’s okay, but that seems a little high ended,” Lu said. “I thought that these things were to buy t-shirts or to make projects possible.”

PISD activity coordinator Waverly Wang, another NHS officer, disagreed.

“Our dinner is for 12 people at the very most,” Wang said. “If you think about how much money we’re really taking away, what’s the difference between them paying $20 and then subtracting how much we’re paying for Fogo?”

Wang also said that officers spend more time for the organization than the members of NHS, and deserve an award at the end of the year.

“As NHS officers, there’s a lot that we do on our side that members don’t really see,” Wang said. “Every activities coordinator for every single project has to build spreadsheets of volunteers, send it to the sponsors, make sure they get signed up so everyone has a spot at the project, and get back, cross-check it with point sheets. There’s a lot of work behind the scenes that people don’t see.”

Organization co-sponsor Shanique Leonard also said that NHS officers deserved a dinner.

“Being a NHS officer is a tremendous amount of work and a huge time commitment, with no grade or credit attached,” Leonard said in an email interview. “We feel that the majority of the membership appreciates that their NHS experience is easier to complete than in years past, and would probably agree that an officer appreciation dinner is warranted.”

Member Niraj Parekh, however, said that officers’ hard work doesn’t mean they should be given a dinner at Fogo de Chao.

“It’s understandable that they use the money for our t-shirts, but to use it just so the officers could buy food, and then also go to very expensive dinners, is upsetting,” Parekh said. “They’ve worked hard, but this is just a waste of money. Our politicians also work hard, should we be giving them a bunch of money just so they can go enjoy themselves? I personally don’t feel like that. We also work hard as NHS members.”

Parekh also said that he felt officers should have used the money from NHS members to throw a banquet like the one that was held last year.

“That would be a really nice thing to do for us,” Parekh said. “Last year they even handed out prizes and stuff which was really cool. Unfortunately, they’re not doing that this year, but I think that would be a really good way to use the money so that the NHS members can feel like their time was spent in some sort of way.”

Co-President Lawrence Liu said that the banquet wasn’t held because the NHS officers felt that members weren’t enthusiastic during the last one, and that many only came for a project credit. He also noted that the majority of member funds left after organization expenses go to charity organizations such as Journey of Hope and City House.

Seniors Bethany Werner and Richard Hanson said that they felt okay with officers treating themselves to an expensive dinner.

“I do see how some people could see it as being inappropriate,” Werner said. “That is expensive, that’s how much our prom dinner was. But they’ve worked hard, so they’ve earned it.”

On the other hand, they said that officers should have done a better job of communicating the reasoning for their decisions on events such as Fogo and banquet to the members of NHS.

“I wish they would have been more open about it,” Werner said. “That’s what they’ve reinforced all along. All those emails and all those point sheets and everything. All this goes against what I’ve been going on for all the years I’ve been at Plano.”