In response to an article in The Saint, the Welly Ball committee took unprecedented action.
On Thursday 27 October, the committee of Welly Ball posted a statement entitled “In Defence of Welly Ball” on their Facebook page prompted by an article published by The Saint on the same day. The statement rebuked, at length, claims made by the author’s article, Natasha Franks, who the committee claimed had accused them of “corruption, embezzlement and greed.”
The post included a link to the committee’s financial documents, in order to dispel any doubts as to their integrity. The statement also went on to further criticise The Saint in general and Miss Franks (mentioned by name in the post, which received over 250 likes and 15 shares): “Accusations of corruption and embezzlement seriously threaten the reputation we have worked hard to retain. The Welly Ball Committee hopes this response proves their falsehood. We now make one request of the author of the article – Welly Ball is removed from the article and the allegations against us are retracted immediately.”
While Miss Franks had indeed made reference to balls and other events being accused of corruption, the article in question was written in defence of these balls, calling out the students who “fall back onto accusations of embezzlement to reconcile themselves with their baseless hatred of a charitable club.” The article describes accusations of corruption as “senseless, bitter rumours which are quickly discredited by the innate hypocrisy of their makers.” The Welly Ball committee’s post appeared to have been a misreading of the article.
Following Welly Ball’s post, the article accrued numerous comments sharing their sentiment. One commenter named “James Spectre” was particularly vociferous, demanding that Miss Franks and The Saint both apologise for making “factually incorrect” criticisms of different events, and saying (ironically, given the context): “If you are going to make claims, Natasha Franks, you need to have a basis for these claims.”
Following two days in which The Saint was sustained harsh criticism from the committees that had tried to defend, Miss Franks published a second article clarifying her position, and also firing back at the criticism she had faced: “In older times, punishments were issued publicly. Whether spending a day in the stockades or being dragged through the village by goats, victims served as warnings to would-be rule-breakers. The fear of being ostracised, to suffer under the judgemental eyes of one’s peers, effectively silenced any discourse. This mentality is hopelessly intertwined with St Andrean culture, due to the town’s small size and inherently voyeuristic nature. Public shaming is a viable tactic in the hands of offended parties, who can metaphorically place an individual in the stockades using no more than a Facebook post.”
Welly Ball has as yet failed to acknowledge the misunderstanding publicly, but the status they posted – along with their newly-unveiled finances – has been deleted from Facebook. The original post had also been shared by the House of Horror Facebook page in a show of “support for [their] fellow committee.” (It is worth noting that the co-director of House of Horror is on the Welly Ball committee.) This post has also been deleted, along with any shares of the post made by members of either committee.
While Welly Ball’s credibility has most likely not been helped by these events, they can at least take comfort in the fact that, during the brief time their statement remained on Facebook, no one was able to find any evidence of financial impropriety. Therefore, assuming the Welly Ball committee’s maths are better than their reading and comprehension skills, they have at least proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that they are totally innocent of the embezzlement that nobody was accusing them of in the first place.