Delays to grad class gifts 'not abnormal,' AMS says as plans set to finish 2020 gift this year

The AMS said it will finally deliver on the Class of 2020’s grad class gift mural this year.

AMS President Cole Evans said this delay is in line with years of backed up grad gifts due to the extensive amount of work delivering the grad gifts typically entails.

Grad gifts are donations made by the graduating class to the UBC campus. There is a committee of students assembled by the president that looks into the gifts that are proposed to see if they are suitable and constructive gifts to the university.

In 2020, there were three gifts donated by the grad class to the UBC campus. The first was $20,000 dedicated to COVID-19 relief, intended to provide financial aid to students struggling as a result of the pandemic. The second was a donation to the AMS food bank, and the final gift was a mural which was to be done on campus in honour of the 2020 graduating class.

While the other two have been completed, the mural project remains unfinished as it requires a lot of background work and production.

Evans said that the mural has the focus of “celebrating the grad class of 2020,” a year that finished their degree in uncertain and challenging times. The AMS will be selecting an artist and completing the mural this year.

Evans said that it is not abnormal for the grad gifts to be backed up due to the amount of production many of these gifts entail, however the pandemic has certainly not helped to make this a speedy process.

While the 2018 and 2019 gifts have been completed, there remain delays in earlier gifts. The 2016 gift was the installation of a large format sign for the Nest on the Knoll. Evans said “this has been held up by back-and-forth conversations with UBC Campus and Community Planning,” however this project is being worked on currently and completion is projected for 2022.

The 2017 gift, which is to commission an artistic Indigenous sculpture in the Nest, has been delayed due to Musqueam Band concerns. “This resulted in the project being put indefinitely on hold as the AMS wanted to ensure that we had prior and informed consent before proceeding,” Evans said.

Grads expressed that they would have liked to be more in the know about the status of the gifts.

George Ghiouzelis, a 2020 graduate, told The Ubyssey in an email that “giving the grads of 2020 some updates on the gift would have been nice” to keep the community in-the-know.

2021 graduate Gillian Turnbull suggested that they “choose a project that doesn’t involve as much organization in order to expedite the process.”

Evans agreed the current process needs to change.

“These processes happen at the end of the school year when the people at the AMS are transitioning out of their roles,” Evans said. As a result, these tasks often get lost in the mix or become a lower priority.

“The main opportunities for making the grad class gifts process better moving forward are to start the process earlier in the year, ensure that projects are feasible and assign clearer responsibilities for who is to carry out the projects," said Evans.