AMS planning in-person Firstweek and Welcome Back BBQ

As COVID-19 restrictions ease in BC, the AMS is planning more in-person events for its annual AMS Firstweek, including an ‘Almost’ Welcome Back BBQ that will be free to all.

In June 2021, AMS President Cole Evans announced that the AMS is planning in-person Firstweek events and a modified Welcome Back BBQ. One month later, Events and Digital Media Manager Rish Das confirmed these plans during an AMS Council meeting.

Whereas only 700 Firstweek kits have been available in the past, costing $70 each, 750 free kits will be offered to first-years during Jumpstart, move-in and Firstweek this year — a 250-kit increase from the initial 500 proposed in July.

Das attributes the 50-kit increase to UBC’s increasing student population.

According to Das, students have historically paid for these kits because of the Firstweek wristband, which provides free access to all Firstweek events in addition to the Welcome Back BBQ.

This year’s “almost” Welcome Back BBQ will be free to everyone and take place on Friday, September 17 at the University Commons. On that day, Firstweek, in partnership with UBC Athletics, will screen the virtual homecoming event, followed by live music performances by local artists.

“[Due to the pandemic], we don’t expect [any] one particular student to attend all the events … Therefore, we decided to do the kits for free, as well as the [almost] Welcome Back BBQ,” Das said.

According to Das, the modified Welcome Back BBQ will be like a fair, featuring food trucks and flea market vendors selling items like sneakers and vintage clothing. Tickets do not need to be reserved in advance, allowing students to enter and exit freely. In addition, the event space will not be fenced in — as it has been as in years past because there won’t be a fixed capacity.

Das anticipates the BBQ will not exceed BC’s outdoor gathering maximum of 5,000 people because even before the pandemic, when tickets were sold and popular artists were brought in, only five to six thousand people attended the event.

During the BBQ, Das plans on “taking down names and tracking [the] attendance of people” in order to enable contact tracing. Because the plans have not been finalized, he could not provide more details.

During his presentation to AMS Council, Das said the event does not have a precise budget because money will not be spent on performances. Furthermore, no money was allocated to the Welcome Back BBQ in the 2021/22 AMS budget.

Das, and AMS VP Finance Mary Gan in a written statement sent to The Ubyssey, later clarified that because the Welcome Back BBQ will be considered like any other AMS event, there will be no separate budget for the event, as has been the case in the past. Instead, $10,000 to $15,000 will be pulled from the AMS events budget.

“They are looking into receiving sponsorship funds as well but the amounts have not been confirmed yet,” Gan wrote.