Two hundred and three feet in the air, looking out over the silhouette of Montreal through blue-lit steel, the lights of the city seemed to gleam. Funnily enough, they weren’t as bright as the stars in the room behind me.
This year, the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) hosted its annual awards ceremony at the Montreal Biosphere. The zero-waste environment museum is more commonly recognized as the huge, geometric, metal dome just across the river from the Old Port—it glows electric blue at night.
The night overflowed with jubilant feelings of celebration. The semi-formal theme was brushed past: Red lips, floor-length gowns, and the highest of heels took to the Biodome that night. Rihanna’s old hits were playing, and the dances in the room were easy and light. People came together from different programs, finding time (as Arts students do) to “just consider the other side of a debate” before splitting off again to find new partners and stories.
The night was a heady mix of elegance and excitement. High cocktail tables stood throughout the room, with plush couches scattered along the perimeter—the atmosphere inviting people to mingle. The entire space was wrapped in floor-to-ceiling windows, which allowed for a moment truly worthy of the word “breathtaking” when the sun dipped below the Montreal skyline. Side tables were filled with cheese platters, fruit platters, gourmet cookies, and chocolate dipping sauce. Bartenders were mixing up vibrant-hued drinks, and, with what looked like a waffle-maker, frozen shots. Photographers circled the room, conversations punctuated by the flash of cameras. Despite the night being a little chilly, more than one person ventured out onto the surrounding balcony, taking in a close-up view of the dome and the city, and snapping a couple shots for the ’Gram.
To kick off the ceremony, AUS vice-president (VP) Communications, Britney Vu, called it a night of celebration and recognition, a night to applaud all of the hard work, dedication, and passion that came from each department. With the hoots and hollers that rose up for every honourable mention and award called, the energy in the room was palpable. Of course, attendees came in with hopes for their own shining glass plaque, but there was also something like a collective pat-on-the-back going throughout the room. It was a night for everyone, all together and individually, to look back on their contributions at McGill and simply appreciate it.
The History Students Association (HSA) took home the final prize of the night, for Most Outstanding Departmental Executive Team. To receive an award, Arts undergraduate departments nominated members of their executive team. After nominations, prizes were voted upon by the AUS team, and when there were conflicts of interest, the AUS secretary-generals voted in their place. AUS’s VP Academic, Nick Rieck, U2, told The McGill Tribune that they tried to make the decisions as equitable as possible.
With AUS missing a VP Internal, Rieck took it upon himself to put together the awards ceremony this year. With preparations beginning as early as November and continuing through until Friday night, it was a daunting project for Rieck, but feelings of gratitude propelled him.
“There are so many cool events and things that go on with the different departments […] what we really want to do is honour the work that our departments do,” he explained.
After seeing firsthand how the departments positively contribute to Arts students’ experiences at McGill, Rieck said that the night was a way of giving back to the students who work to make that happen.
Somewhere between the bright blue lights of the night, the frozen shots being doled out at the bar, and snapshots being taken, an inspiring sense of pride and appreciation flowed throughout the room. There was a sense of teamwork—between departments, and between everyone in the Faculty of Arts. The dome’s blue lights and camera flashes that night shone bright. But that feeling…it shone the brightest of all.