AMS Events pub crawl amid second wave an 'error in judgement,' AMS president says

AMS Events came under fire on social media for holding a pub crawl on Halloween weekend. The appropriateness of the event was questioned by community members on Twitter and former AMS executives given the recent spike in COVID-19 cases.

AMS Events is now reviewing its COVID-19 safety plan following a cancellation of all in-person AMS and club events.

The event, Vancouver's Costumes & Cocktails Halloween Tour, was hosted by AMS Events, ThePlug Vancouver and Vancouver Tasting Tours on October 31. The event was advertised on Facebook as “socially distanced” and claimed to have 6 person bubbles enforced by safety hosts.

Student senator and former AMS executive Julia Burnham tweeted a photo of the event writing, “Please spare me the excuses that this event was ‘covid safe.’ Our student union should not be organizing or endorsing bar crawls in a PANDEMIC.”

The tweet has now been removed by Twitter, as it was found in violation of the platform’s rules.

Burnham tweeted an image of the event, which has now been removed by Twitter.
Burnham tweeted an image of the event, which has now been removed by Twitter. Screenshot from Twitter

Recently, Burnham has been outspoken online regarding mask usage in the Nest and events held in The Gallery.

“This is really just another example of the ways that AMS Events has been operating quite irresponsibly, during the pandemic,” she said.

AMS President Cole Evans said this event did not reflect the AMS’s messaging to encourage responsible behaviour during the pandemic.

“I think that there's recognition from our managers that this was a relatively large error in judgment to proceed with participating in an event like this given that that we are in a second wave,” he said.

AMS Events spent $400 on merchandise and received $500 in revenue from the event. The executive team wasn’t briefed on the event before it happened, said Evans.

ThePlug Vancouver declined to comment on the event. ThePlug Vancouver is headed by AMS VP External Kalith Nanyakkara, its founder and president.

Former AMS executive and UBC Board of Governors member Max Holmes highlighted AMS Events’ lack of accountability to the AMS’s elected representatives.

“From my experience, formally as an executive, and as somebody who's witnessed the society, AMS Events is given a lot of free rein to do whatever they want,” he said.

AMS Events is not part of the portfolio of any AMS executive and instead, reports to the managing director who then reports to the executive and council.

Holmes also emphasized the lack of COVID-19 safety communications from AMS Events.

“It's concerning that it seems that during the pandemic, there aren't clear publicly available safety plans. It may be that there are these plans, but they aren't easily accessible, they aren't well known to people.”

Moving forward, Evans said the society wants to make sure AMS Events’ brand is more aligned with “the brand of the organization as a whole.”

“I think that we'll be looking at how executives can be more involved in the activity of the departments, especially since [AMS Events] is a very big student-facing department … and how we can ensure there’s better oversight at the Council level.”