The Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) held its first in-person event of the Fall term, “Activities Night ‘after hours,” on Sept. 14 at Muzique—a nightclub on St-Laurent Blvd near campus. “After hours,” promoted as a celebration for the return to student life on campus, was the second part of SSMU’s two-day Activities Night series.
In keeping with Quebec’s COVID-19 regulations for bars and restaurants, protocols included mandatory mask-wearing when moving around the venue, enforcement of the Quebec vaccine passport, and fixed seating arrangements at pre-reserved tables. Plexiglass separated the individual booths and tables. Attendees were allowed to visit Muzique’s three rooms: The Main Room, the Hip-Hop room, and the Terrasse.
Although attendees were required to wear masks, many of the Muzique staff, including the bouncers and the DJ, were seen without masks. Nevertheless, many students, like Joey Hershkop, U1 Engineering, said the event’s vaccine policy eased his concerns.
“I feel completely safe, considering the vaccine passport,” Hershkop said in an interview with The McGill Tribune. “Having the peace of mind knowing that everybody here is vaccinated is crucial.”
Abdel Madrid Rafai, U2 Engineering, agreed that the safety precautions at the event were sufficient. Madrid Rafai expressed his eagerness to participate in student life this year, after completing his first year at McGill entirely online.
“I really do not have many concerns,” Madrid Rafai said. “We did not have many cases [at] McGill these past few weeks and the regulations were followed [….] I am just excited to be with other students.”
At around 10:45 p.m., Montreal Police (SPVM) inspected the venue to ensure that the venue was adequately enforcing COVID-19 safety regulations. The police found no violations, leaving Muzique after 10 minutes.
“I talked to the police,” Karla Heisele Cubilla, Activities Night organizer and SSMU vice-president student life said. “They told me that they received a phone call, saying that there was a party and [asking] if [the police] could go check that regulations were being followed [….] The police came in, they found nothing wrong.”
Heisele Cubilla said that while she primarily received enthusiastic responses from the McGill community after the event, she said she also received concerns from SSMU members about how the after party would adequately adhere toCOVID-19 protocols.
“I brought it to [SSMU’s executive committee],” Heisele Cubilla explained. “The entire team approved this event. I explained […] all the regulations we are taking, and they said, ‘okay, this seems like it is per Quebec’s laws and regulations.’”
SSMU president Darshan Daryanani looked back on the event as a welcome return to student life at McGill.
“From what I have heard, after more than 18 months of remote learning, students appreciated a venue where they can finally re-engage with each other and restore an experience that students have missed for so long,” Daryanani wrote in an email to the Tribune. “Some students are COVID-19 cautious and prefer online events, so in the near future, we will be planning for both.”