Committee to reevaluate AMS Events management has yet to meet — three months after backlash to in-person events

Following a suspension of all in-person events late last year, AMS Events has shifted its focus to digital content but isn’t ruling out possible in-person events in the near future.

In November, the AMS received scrutiny for its pub crawl which appeared to not follow COVID-19 health guidelines. New physical distancing restrictions — along with criticism from the UBC community — prompted the suspension of in-person events hosted by the AMS.

AMS Events claimed that it would be reviewing its COVID-19 safety plans and making changes to better align with public health guidelines. However, it’s still unclear what changes have been made to the oversight structure or to AMS Events. The committee assigned to do so on November 12 has yet to meet.

AMS President Cole Evans stressed that the society is prioritizing safety in its decisions.

“We’re always looking for ways that we can deliver events to students, if we can do so in a safe way …. There’s no pressure really to host in-person events and we’ll only do so when we feel like the time is right for it,” Evans said.

The current provincial restrictions prohibit any in-person events or social gatherings until at least February 5, but Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has indicated that they may not be lifted on that date.

AMS Events Manager Rishavraj Das stated that while the society will not hold any in-person events until the restrictions are lifted, they fully intend to hold events as soon as possible.

“We’re not able to organize any events, at least for the next couple weeks, so we’re playing it safe and we’re just looking out for when it’s okay for us to organize events again. But as a department, we really want to and we are eagerly waiting to host events for students,” he said.

Das emphasized that any events would abide by public health guidelines.

“When it comes to restrictions, most of our events are in the Nest or on campus, and we would be abiding by the same guidelines and safety measures that are currently taking place,” Das said.

AMS Events is not directly run by any AMS executive, and instead reports to the managing director who then reports to the executive and AMS Council. After AMS Events received public backlash in November for a pub crawl which appeared not to follow physical distancing rules, Evans expressed his intent to ensure “better oversight at the Council level.”

Regarding giving executives more oversight of AMS Events, Evans said that it would take more time to get “everything in order” and complete the restructuring process.

“In November we told our teams to start looking at ways that we can work on some of these things and they were eager to start finding some good solutions,” he said.

The AMS Council ad hoc committee on AMS Events Structure & Audit will provide some oversight of AMS Events, Evans said.

“That committee will be meeting soon as well, once we have some material to work with and then we can go from there.”

But the committee hasn’t met yet. At the January 26 AMS Council meeting, Evans said the executive is still working through some things internally before convening the committee. When pressed by a councillor, Evans said the committee would be unlikely to meet meet before the next Council meeting on February 11.

“We obviously want to involve our staff in this process because they, a lot of the time, are really the ones that make those departments function well,” Evans said.