Have you ever walked out of the Student Union Building to witness a group of students dressed in animal print onesies raving to a boom box? Whether you are a first-year student eager to experience the wild side of university life or a graduate student who wants to enjoy a more classy night out, you have almost undoubtedly seen students promoting, heard about or attended an event hosted by the UBC Party Calendar.
The Calendar is a student-run organization that serves as the backbone of social gatherings at UBC. In the words of founder and UBC graduate Robert Morton, “The Calendar is a mirror that reflects everything awesome that is going on at UBC back at its students.”
Morton grew up in Pitt Meadows on a tree farm. In addition to hosting benefit concerts with his high school band, Morton participated in the tight-knit community and worked with other locals to plan social events. In his early years at UBC, Morton immersed himself in the community. As a house president in Totem Park, Morton continually strived for a “college experience where you know everyone and where we are all involved in making UBC life as colourful as possible."
While his participation in UBC campus life was a strong foundation for the UBC Party Calendar, the actual idea was conceived on Morton’s 19th birthday while on a trip to Bulgaria with his best friend.
“We went to the woman at the desk in our hostel and she said, ‘just one second’. She hopped onto a Bulgarian nightlife website and listed all of the events happening on that day in their specific town." From that moment, Morton could not stop thinking about bringing a similar concept to UBC.
In his second year, Morton found himself sitting in Irving K. Barber procrastinating for a paper when the idea for a suitable name finally struck him.
“My friend and I sat back after buying the domain name ‘thecalendar.ca’ and literally said ‘whoa’, now we have no choice, we have to follow through with the idea,” said Morton.
At its start, the Calendar had a “duct-taped together website” and was headquartered in Morton’s room, where he and his roommates did all of the event planning, administration and photo editing.
“It didn’t matter whether you were in a fraternity system, a certain club or anything, it was all about showing your colours and having a good time," Morton said.
Today, the organization has 50 members, an extensive social media presence and continues to push the limit of social events at UBC.
“On a personal level, it is my team that continually supports each step that we take and without them, we would not be anywhere close to where we are today. Our meetings are literally just a sweet goofy support group."
When asked about his inspiration, Morton spoke about the passion that drives him personally and how it is reflected in the UBC Party Calendar organization.
“The Calendar is made of three key pillars including building community, promoting fun and supporting artists. Together, these ideas are the ‘why’ of the Calendar and the ‘why’ of me.”
Outside of his involvement with the Calendar, Morton has been a strong proponent of the #IAmAStudent movement against international tuition and residence fee increases proposed for 2015 at UBC.
“The IAmAStudent group purpose is the organizational branding side of the movement," Morton said. In a similar manner to UBC Calendar events, the #IAmAStudent collaboration allows UBC students to come together, build connections and create a stronger UBC community.
Looking forward, Morton’s dream is to “bring something like the Calendar to Vancouver that involves supporting local initiatives and artists”. He continued to explain how “in the same way that UBC needed some help having fun and getting to know each other, Vancouver has almost the exact same challenge."
By establishing the Calendar model in the city of Vancouver, Robert hopes to promote a more active community and revitalize Vancouverites.
The Calendar team continues to promote school spirit and an inclusive student culture by throwing events throughout the year ranging from the Digital Zoo party to the annual Polar Bear Swim. In one of his final remarks, Morton captured the essence of the Calendar's mandate ”We cannot make positive changes and have strong democracies unless we have strong communities.”