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Posted 13 Sep 2001   For week ended September 14, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 13Sep01

By Kent Larsen

BYU Shuts Down WTC Tragedy Fundraiser

PROVO, UTAH -- A long-time former New York LDS Church member, Doug Ellis, was frustrated in his efforts to collect funds in support of the victims of yesterday's attacks when BYU shut down his effort because he lacked a permit. Ellis set up a card table and started collecting funds outside of BYU's Wilkinson Center within hours of the tragedy, but was shut down by BYU before the 11 am devotional.

Michael McCleve, Director of Student Leadership at BYU, said that BYU requires a permit to keep the unscrupulous from taking advantage of the students, "Without a permit there is absolutely no way to assure students that their money is going to a good place," he said. "Who does the record keeping? Who does the auditing?" McCleve suggested that BYU already has "Care Weeks" that raise funds for a variety of causes, including victims of events like the recent terrorist attacks.

McCleve also admitted that getting a permit can't be done quickly, limiting the ability of fundraisers to collect funds while a tragedy is fresh in the minds of BYU's faculty and students. He said that the current policy allows BYU departments to raise money after making a request through the dean of students. Approval takes at least 24 hours and can take as much as a week. McCleve didn't mention any effort to expedite a permit for Ellis or assist in any way.

He adds that Ellis was acting on emotion. But students found the effort convenient and timely, "If it was my family, I'd want someone to help," said BYU freshman Ashley Brothers. And Ellis said that to him acting quickly was important, "Nothing like this has happened since 1941 -- Pearl Harbor. I want to be one of the first to stand up and say give."

If BYU is worried about the unscrupulous taking advantage of BYU students, Ellis seems like an unlikely suspect. A Salt Lake City native, Ellis moved to New York City where he obtained an MFA in set design from New York University and worked designing sets for TV shows like "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and "Spin City." He also served on the High Council of the New York New York Stake. Ellis moved to BYU last year to work as the technical director at the HFAC, overseeing the technical aspects of all productions there.

During the approximately hour and a half that Ellis solicited donations outside the Wilkinson Center, many students tossed cash and checks into an ice chest that Ellis set up. Brandon Sorensen, a BYU junior, said he gave because of emotion, "I gave because I like New York and I'm feeling for the people there."


New York fundraiser stopped in the act
BYU NewsNet 11Sep01 D3
By Kathryn Huber and Kristen Taufer: NewsNet Staff Writers


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