Image Credit: YUSU
Following a day-long social media campaign on twitter, YUSU have made their big announcement. After teasing students and followers for a few hours, with a welcome graphic slowly revealing a blurred photograph, the Union unveiled their plans for a new outdoor event space called ‘The Forest’ to be built on Campus West, Vanbrugh Bowl. With a capacity of 500, socially distanced, it will be the biggest venue on campus.
The space will feel similar to a festival site with tents, yurts and outdoor seating areas and will be available for student groups to book. Its main aim, however, will be to provide new students at York with a traditional social university experience, but with Welcome Week lasting the whole of first term instead in order to control numbers.
Due to the current social distancing guidelines, first term is expected to look different from normal for both new and returning students. Most teaching and social interaction remains online and with the opening of nightclubs and bars still not guaranteed, there have been concerns as to how universities will replicate the ‘freshers experience’ and ensure the social aspect of university life. ‘The Forest’ may provide a solution as it will host a range of organised activities throughout first term hosted by YUSU and colleges, including quizzes, themed club nights and workshops.
Additionally, YUSU hopes that ‘The Forest’ will provide much needed part time jobs for students who have missed out on jobs in the retail and hospitality sectors, which have greatly impacted by the Covid 19 pandemic.
The space has been funded by the University and will be managed and operated by YUSU. The venue will be equipped with sanitising stations and staff members who are fully trained in ensuring that the venue remains safe. The University is also funding covered outside extensions to the Courtyard and Glasshouse to ensure these venues can continue to be used by students and societies.
‘The Forest’ will open for Postgraduate Arrivals Week and remain open for the entirety of first term.
Patrick O’Donnell, YUSU’s president stated that:
“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 on 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.”