The St. Thomas University Students' Union Help Desk in James Dunn Hall at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, N.B. on Sunday, March 19, 2023. (Aaron Sousa/AQ)

Ahmik Burneo, president of the St. Thomas University International Students Association, was shocked when he learned someone allegedly stole his organization’s cashbox from inside the James Dunn Hall help desk.

Burneo said he was informed about the theft on March 16 by STUISA’s treasurer, Isabella Baralt, after she went to collect the cashbox that morning. Volunteers had selling tickets for STUISA’s multicultural fair and stored the money inside the help desk at the end of each day.

“She was selling the tickets for the multicultural fair, so she had to take the cashbox every morning from the help desk,” said Burneo in an interview with The Aquinian. “So she was going on Thursday morning to grab the cash box and then she noticed that it was stolen.”

Alex Nguyen, president of the St. Thomas University Students’ Union, which operates the help desk, told a council meeting Sunday that there were “things knocked down” at the help desk when they learned of the alleged break-in.

Nguyen could not say how much money was allegedly stolen, but Burneo confirmed that the cashbox contained $164.54 at the time. Luckily, Burneo said, most of the tickets for the multicultural fair were paid online or through Interac e‑Transfer.

Burneo said most of the money raised by STUISA typically is reinvested towards organizing the activities it holds for the international community. The funds raised by the multicultural fair, which he said was an “entire success,” helps fund international student bursaries.

“We’re currently working on calculating if we are going to be able to continue [funding] bursaries that historically, we were able to give this academic year,” said Burneo. “On the other hand, thankfully, the students’ union helped us to recover the amount we lost.”

Ahmik Burneo, president of the St. Thomas University International Students Association, was shocked when he learned his organization’s cashbox was stolen. (Submitted: Ahmik Burneo)

He said conversations among STUISA’s executive team about how to proceed will continue throughout the coming week. Burneo explained it’s difficult to figure out what comes next due to a lack of concrete evidence, like footage from security cameras.

“There’s no cameras at JDH, especially in the [area] of where the help desk is, and with no exact time when it was stolen, we have not much evidence about who it could have been,” he said.

“So it is honestly very hard to see or think what we will do next, but it’s certainly a conversation that we as the executive still have.”

Burneo doesn’t think STUISA will involve the police in this matter due to that lack of evidence. Even though he was shocked by the news, he said he doesn’t hold any resentment towards the person who may have allegedly stolen the money.

“At the beginning, the thought came to our minds that it was someone trying to intentionally harm STUISA or the board, but at the end of the day, we prefer just to keep positive thoughts and say, ‘okay, probably someone just needed the money,’” he said.

Still, Burneo said he has a message for the person behind the alleged theft.

“If you are a person that truly needed the money, I really hope that the money that was there truly helps you, but certainly, there are some other ways to find help,” he said.

“But on the other hand, if your intentions are really just to harm STUISA or the international community, all I have to say is we’re still open to see the money and the cashbox back.”