Every September, our campus bustles with excited students waiting to see what the new academic year has in store for them. A tradition that has been playing the part of a perfect transition between the summer and the new academic year is the AMS Firstweek.
This year, UBC students experienced the first-ever virtual AMS Firstweek. While some events like the iconic Pit Pub nights were moved online, the AMS still managed to host some of their popular events in person, such as Pastels and Pinot, Adopt-A-Plant, and Trivia Night.
“We had a mix of virtual and in-person events because there were still a few first years who were on campus, and they traveled across the world to come to campus, so we felt that we needed to provide them with some experience. We did organize some [in person] events for them and they turned out to be pretty good. We set our capacities at 50 and we were able to provide students with an experience and help them transition into UBC,” said Rishavraj Das, Events Manager at the AMS in an interview with The Ubyssey.
“We had temperature guns taking students' temperatures as they attended the event. We took down [the students’] names and contact numbers as well.”
Additionally AMS staff were equipped with face masks and gloves, they also ensured to make single-use face masks and gloves available at check-in counters at booths.
“For some events, we had floor decals stickers to remind people to maintain two meters of distance from each other,” said Das regarding the safety measures instilled at the in-person events during the AMS first week.
The unprecedented times made the planning of the First Week more uncertain. Das added that up till June the AMS was unclear on the status of the events and what platform they would be hosted on. Nonetheless, he believes the events turned out to be a success.
While AMS events are an integral part of the first week of school, in the past these events have acted as a distraction for students to get a break from academics and other commitments during the semester.
Several AMS events will be held virtually throughout the year. Large events such as the Welcome Back BBQ were canceled due to the pandemic. However, Das says that the AMS is currently working on a suitable alternative for the All-Ages Halloween Party, which is hosted at the Great Hall in the Nest every October with around 1,200 to 1,400 students in attendance.
The good news for our Pastels and Pinot fans is that the monthly event which allows guests to paint and sip will now be hosted more often. Its location, The Gallery, is able to accommodate the province’s limit of 50 people for public gatherings, along with ample space to accommodate provincial physical distancing restrictions.
For students who will not be on campus this year, AMS Events just launched its YouTube channel this summer.
“We have started a YouTube series called ‘My UBC Campus Experience’. Students should definitely keep an eye out for our YouTube channel because we are creating content that [students] can watch from across the world.”