A new 500+ capacity event space has been created at the University of York to house the long awaited “welcome week” for incoming Freshers.
Permanent outdoor additions will also be made to both the Glasshouse and Courtyard, allowing them to continue to host their own events.
“The Forest”, which will sit on Vanbrugh Bowl, will host staggered events from 21 September (Postgraduate Arrivals Week) until the end of Term 1, allowing attendance to be safely controlled.
The “COVID secure” venue will take inspiration from a festival site, and sit alongside several tents, yurts, and seating areas, with a capacity of 500+ with social distancing, would comes up short of York nightclub Salvation, which housed 800 before the pandemic enforced social distancing.
The University of York Student Union (YUSU) has confirmed it will host club nights, quizzes, and workshops, with spaces available for students and societies to book to host their own events.
It is not yet known how many student jobs this will create, but YUSU says that it will allow them “to continue to provide student jobs on campus at a time when finances continue to be a real concern for many students, and the pandemic continues to impact the availability of the retail and hospitality jobs that have traditionally provided part time work opportunities for many students”.
The site will be managed by the students’ union, and will have a “sustainability” focus to reflect being awarded “excellent” by the NUS’ Green Impact Scheme.
Patrick O’Donnell, President of YUSU, said: “Not only does new space mean we’ll be able to host loads of events and activities for new students in the first few weeks, it also gives students a chance to host their own events too. We’ve always been hugely impressed by the creativity of student groups in their activities and are excited to offer them a safe space to continue to make the most of all that’s on offer at the University.
“Safety is YUSU’s number one priority when managing this venue, and I want to extend a massive thank you to the University for not only funding the project, but also for continuing to work closely with us to manage risk and ensure the events that take place here adhere to the latest government guidelines and regulations.”
Georgia Holroyd, a second year Langwith STYC, said: “I hope the provisions that the University has put in place, such as the extension to existing student bars, will help bridge the gap between an ordinary freshers experience and one with a socially distanced undertone. As the year progresses I think it’s important to see more events occurring on campus, where COVID measures can be enforced, but also allowing prospective students the freedom to truly make the most of what first year has to offer. I also think joining uni / college sports teams should be more encouraged by the uni in order to help create a sense of community which may well be lost as a result of club closures.”
This moves comes off the back of the announcement of YuFund: Kickstart, where students can apply to receive up to £1,000 in order to fund projects that aim to benefit the student community at York. Applications for this close on 21 August.