Eric Gonzalez

Campus events mark end of classes one year after tragedy

By Fabian Mayer, May 14 2015 —

Old and new celebrations marked the last day of classes and end of the academic year. Both Bermuda Shorts Day and the inaugural UCalgary Strong Festival were deemed successes.

The university put on the UCalgary Strong Festival with funding from the UCalgary Strong initiative, which was created last year following the murder of five students on the last day of classes. It was designed to provide a sober alternative to the Students’ Union’s year-end festivities, BSD.

Vice-provost student experience Susan Barker helped create the event. Barker said the turnout of roughly 2,700 students, staff and faculty was better than expected.

“When you start something new you’re not quite sure how many people will turnout, but we were blessed with great weather and there was a great turnout from students, but also from staff and faculty,” Barker said.

Students’ Union vice-president student life Kirsty McGowan said the SU supports the UCalgary Strong event.

“It’s great that students are being offered an alternative to make sure we are including a lot of people in celebrating the last day of classes,” McGowan said.

Though attendance at BSD was down from 7,958 last year to 7,752 this year, McGowan said it was a success.

“It went really well, we had a really good turnout and everything went smoothly so we were happy with it,” McGowan said.

Barker said organizers noticed students going back and forth between the two events.

“It was great that people felt able to participate in both year-end events. We didn’t have any security issues or incidents of any sort in the festival area at all,” Barker said.

Despite taking place on the one-year anniversary of last year’s murders, Barker said the event did not have difficulty balancing commemoration of the victims with celebrating the last day of classes.

“It actually just enriched what we were trying to do. It probably enhanced [it], there was sort of a synergy between the two rather than any conflict,” Barker said.

Both BSD and the UCalgary Strong Festival will take place again next year on the last day of classes.

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