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