Meet Our Events and Communities Coordinator

Hi, I’m Hazel and I’m the part-time Events and Communities Coordinator at the GSA. I’m also a postgraduate student here at the University of York and I’m working towards my MA in Eighteenth Century literature.

Every year the GSA organises one of the only postgraduate-specific Welcome Weeks in the UK. There are events and activities which help new students get to know the University, the GSA, the city of York, and each other.

I started at the GSA earlier this year in May and by that time we already knew that this year’s Welcome Week was going to be different to those that went before it. The international Covid-19 pandemic had already led to a national lockdown in the UK and regular campus life felt like a distant memory.

The start of my MA year began with meet-and-greets, I had regular in-person seminars and lectures in lecture theatres, and in my spare time I went to the weekly pub quizzes at one of the on campus bars. Now I’m doing Zoom meetings with my dissertation supervisors, Zoom calls with my colleagues, and using mostly online resources to do my research. Things are slowly opening up again though – I got to go to the Morrell library and browse the bookshelves again a few weeks ago and it felt so good to be back.

But if this year has proved anything to me it’s that however you meet, student communities and friendship groups are more important than ever. Chatting to students facing the same challenges has been a lifeline for me and has given me support to be able to keep going despite the major changes we’ve experienced. (As a side note, knowing historians during this time has been super helpful because they’ve been educating me about other occasions where humans have dealt with a pandemic – or worse, a plague!)

So, despite the unusual circumstances we are in, the GSA are still going to be providing a Welcome Week. I’ll be the first to admit that it doesn’t look like previous Welcome Weeks – we’ve got some in person events (with limited numbers), Zoom events, and we’ll be doing some streamed tours of campus. The in-person events are being managed very carefully. Some of them will be outdoors and in small numbers like the city tours, and some of them are being hosted by the new outdoor covered marquee area provided by YUSU and the University known as The Forest [link].

But I know that for some of you Welcome Week, which starts on 21st September, may not be something you can attend in person. It might be because you have health concerns and just don’t feel comfortable socialising outside yet, it might be because international visa issues are holding up your arrival, or it might be because you’re travelling from a country that has quarantine restrictions on it and you’ll have to quarantine for 2 weeks once you’re in the UK.

Firstly, we at the GSA also run Network Week in week 1 of term. This is a chance to get involved in our Networks and to meet people in smaller groupings than you might have done in Welcome Week. This was where I met several members of the GSA team last year while on a walk to a local coffee shop where we chatted about York and I had biggest slice of cake I think I’ve ever seen (and it was amazing). We’ll be posting details about Network week shortly, and we’ll let you know on our social media pages as soon as they’re available.

If you’re not on campus, or if you’re quarantining, you can all join us in our online events during Welcome and Network week of course – some of these are informative, and some will be opportunities for you to meet other students (and some will be games). We look forward to seeing you all there and starting to get to know you.

Alongside these options, we’re also planning on holding what might be classed as ‘welcome’ events across the term. We’re just at the stage of planning those and it would be really great to get your input. If you’re a student who might miss the on campus Welcome Week you can help us provide you with fun events by telling us when you think you might be arriving or available to socialise in person and what you’d like to attend. Give us your thoughts on this Google form, and we’ll take it into account as we plan our events for autumn term.

I’m really looking forward to meeting you all soon, whether that’s in person or over Zoom.

8th September 2020