Most McGill students would agree that Open Air Pub (OAP) is a great place to commence the semester. It has cold drinks, hot food, live music, and provides the perfect venue to catch up with your friends at the beginning of the school year. But these attractions alone don’t make OAP unique. It is OAP’s status as the main campus gathering spot, as well as the diversity of patrons that it attracts, that makes it deserving of the motto—the “best place on Earth.”
Though many might argue that the title “best place on Earth” is hyperbolic, there is no doubt that OAP provides a special campus experience. It is a central hub, unparalleled in its capacity to host a large population of student day-drinkers. But its reputation is not oriented around drinking alone. It is also a place where all students, no matter their choice of beverage, can convene. By providing a respite from large and often rowdy party events, such as Frosh and Carnival, it fosters McGill community spirit by creating a common bond among students who all seek a relaxed venue to enjoy the warm weather and reunite with friends.
OAP also features a variety of musical acts—many of which include McGill students themselves—to entertain its attendees. Highlighting student musicians and artists on its stage involves students in every aspect of OAP. These performances showcase the wide range of talents present at McGill, and inspire students to support one another. The variety of performances, which range from satirical rock duos to campus a capella groups, testifies to the diversity of students represented at OAP.
OAP becomes a microcosm of campus life, and brings non-academic pursuits to the forefront of student consciousness. As a result, students are reminded that campus life is more than lectures, the library, and clubs—it is a space where students can all come together.
During the chaos of the year, it is easy to forget about what goes on beyond our own social circles. But by slating OAP for the start of the Fall semester, students can meet new people and be exposed to different parts of campus life. Diverse groups from all across McGill come together to eat, drink, and be merry. Unlike the faculty bars, OAP does not cater to a specific category of students. While faculty pubs (such as Arts’ BDA and Engineers’ Blues Pub) aren’t strictly exclusive, their mandates provide for, and therefore attract, particular groups. All students can be represented at OAP, providing an opportunity for new groups to mingle. This is especially unique at a university as large as McGill, where it is easy to remain consigned within one ‘niche.’
Though it may not be literally the best place on Earth, OAP comes pretty close. It is unique in this ability to draw students from different walks of life to one location. Whether students stop by in between classes or visit in the evening, they will be able to meet a variety of people. More than at any other time of year, there is the possibility of breaking out of the usual McGill clubs and niches. With this inclusivity, OAP is transformed from an outdoor pub and made into a distinctively McGillian experience.