Ultra Vires


In-Person Event Planning: Expect the Unexpected

Can nothing go according to plan? 

I had high hopes for 2021, after a year that fundamentally changed our way of life. I thought vaccines would bring life back to normalcy by now. That obviously didn’t happen. As with any situation, there are two sides to the story. A pessimistic view would suggest that this continues to be the worst timeline. But I want to be optimistic for once. The situation is a lot better than last year — we certainly have more opportunities to meet our peers. I personally find it funny how often I come across 2Ls I have never met before. Things could have been a lot worse.

This current situation, however, does present some distinct challenges for in-person event planning as compared to last year. Turns out, a total restriction is easier to plan for than a partial one. As one of the O-Week student coordinators this year, I, along with my phenomenal teammates Hannah Lank (3L) and Anisha Sivathas (2L), have worked closely with Ann Vuletin, the Student Programs Coordinator, since June to figure out how to walk this fine line. 

We wanted to offer as many in-person opportunities as possible for incoming 1Ls, but were also cognizant of the ongoing pandemic. A few major roadblocks we faced in these ever-changing circumstances included finding venues with sufficient outdoor space to accommodate the entire cohort, designing a system that minimized contact beyond Legal Methods sections, and regrettably forgoing some food and beverage choices (I will forever miss you, cotton candy). There was also an arbitrary line that distinguished academic and social activities, where a stricter capacity limit was imposed on the latter, even if the exact same group of students planned to attend both on the same day. Furthermore, guidance from U of T’s central administration frequently required us to do some last minute pivoting before the events. So if any of you 1Ls noticed that the actual events differed either slightly or drastically from what we originally promised, this is the likely culprit. Notwithstanding these challenges, we apparently had more flexibility during O-Week than we have now.

This brings me to the Appendix D SEAT Form, the bane of any club’s existence. I’m sure all clubs are working toward hosting in-person events to not only welcome 1Ls, but also to recoup the lost opportunities of last year. However, the university does not make it easy for us. Kudos to the Students’ Law Society (SLS) for pulling off a few wonderful events already. I have no clue how you managed this feat under the current regime, but your success is incredibly encouraging. I’m still learning how to navigate this madness, but just like the lawyers who work within the confines of our legal system, we will continue to adapt to make the best of this new academic year. In a way, maybe this collective struggle will bring us together as a community. At a minimum, my law school experience will surely be unforgettable.

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