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(Gabriel Helfant / The McGill Tribune)

The making of OAP: More than beer and barbecue

Campus Spotlight/Student Living by

From Aug. 27 to Sept. 7, the sloping field behind the Roddick Gates once again transformed into McGill’s Open Air Pub (OAP). OAP, the university’s biannual student-run barbecue, is a major logistical challenge handled by a small army of engineering students.

This year, the scene at OAP was one of controlled chaos. Lower Field was redolent with the aromas of food trucks, and the endless beer and barbecue from the nearby tents. Behind the scenes, volunteers coordinated with the university, secured the necessary liquor permits, transported beer and food, organized cooking and clean up, and a thousand other tasks that make McGill’s biggest weeklong party a reality. The dedicated volunteers say that they donate their time to McGill to make a difference.

Students stream into OAP throughout the event’s 11-day run, generating revenues for the Engineering Undergraduate Society (EUS). Profits from the Fall semester go toward funding various engineering clubs and design teams. According to OAP managers Malcolm McClintock (Engineering U5) and Austin L’Ecuyer (Engineering U5) it takes a group effort between volunteers and university groups to host the event.

“We work with McGill in a lot of ways to make this event happen, but it is run by the EUS,” McClintock said.

This year, the organizers aimed to promote inclusivity for everyone to feel welcome. McClintock pointed to practical measures that have been taken to open OAP to a wider audience.

“Over the past few years, the managers have been focusing on ways to introduce alternative activities to OAP for people who choose not to drink,” McClintock said. “We included a variety of non-alcoholic [beverage] options, from iced tea to kombucha. We’re also putting more focus [on] having day events [….] We want OAP to be an event with drinking, not for drinking.”

The coordinating team worked to better cater to McGill’s diverse community with a wider array of musical offerings. According to L’Ecuyer, they also wanted to introduce a greater variety of entertainment at the event, after criticism that there was too much homogeneity at last year’s OAPhorum.

“We’re always exploring ways to include a wide range of musical genres and performers,” L’Ecuyer said. “We’re actively aware of the demographics of our performers. We try our best to include marginalized groups, so that everyone has a chance to show off their talents. We’re always looking for ways to be more inclusive, [and] we try and work in new feedback every year.”

To the organizers, their efforts to broaden OAP’s appeal have elevated the event from a casual social celebration to an important community-building event. According to L’Ecuyer, the event has recently evolved to reflect this inclusive spirit.  

“[OAP is] a place where all McGill students, graduates, alumni, and new students alike, can enjoy food, beer, and music,” L’Ecuyer said. “Every year we try and integrate new McGill groups into OAP because this is a place for the students [run] by the students.”

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