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The AMS Archives holds nearly all historical records dating back to the AMS' formal constitution in 1915. The records document everything from Student Council minutes taken in 1920, to some more incriminating material, such as photographic evidence of UBC students creating havoc on campus. Most of our archives are now electronic and can be easily shared on request. Or, you can pick up a copy of The Hundred-Year Trek, which gives a lively look into life at UBC over the last century; written by our very own archivist, Sheldon Goldfarb. To see a list of AMS records from before 1995, check the AMS Fonds index. For AMS records from the twenty-five years since then, you can look through the Master Index to the Central Files.

AMS History Timeline


Formal constitution of UBC’s student organization, the Alma Mater Society (AMS).


Welcome to UBC. Hope it’s not too much of a shock. In the early days, hazing was the order of the day, with First Years being subjected to all sorts of things, in this case a little electrocution (don’t worry, no one died).


We’re packed like sardines, UBC students said, grumbling about conditions in the old “Fairview Shacks,” UBC’s first campus at 10th and Oak. So they marched in the Great Trek to get the government to finish the promised campus in West Point Grey. They even had a sardine float. (University of British Columbia Archives, UBC Historical Photograph Collection [UBC 1.1/1314].)


That’s more like it. At the end of the Great Trek students spread themselves out on the vast new campus, spelling out the University’s acronym so all could see. The result of the Great Trek was that the BC government agreed to pay the needed money ($1.5 million) to finish the Point Grey campus, which opened in 1925. (University of British Columbia Archives, photo by Dominion Photo Co., UBC Historical Photograph Collection [UBC 1.1/862].)


The Thunderbirds comes to UBC! UBC students vote to name their sports teams after the mythic Indigenous creature – though they almost chose Seagulls instead. In fact, they did choose Seagulls, but were told that was ridiculous and made to vote again. One vote good, two votes better.


Okay, we won’t electrocute First Years anymore: how about if we just make them wear funny hats? Initiation rituals continued for many years at UBC. (University of British Columbia Archives, UBC Historical Photograph Collection [UBC 1.1/12149].)


Uh oh, someone was careless with a cigarette. Brock Hall, the first student union building, burns. The AMS, which had raised most of the money to build Brock Hall in 1940, also raised the money to repair the fire damage, and then to build an extension. Brock Hall served as the student union building until the 1960’s, when the student population began to skyrocket (from 5,000 to 20,000), and it was decided to build something new.


Brock Hall was too small, so the students built another student union building, the SUB. Planning for the SUB took several years, involving questionnaires to the students, an architectural competition and a referendum to raise the AMS fee by $5. When the building opened in September 1968, there was a bowling alley and listening rooms (where students could listen to records on turntables) – but no pub. There were protests and some temporary accommodation made, but a permanent pub would have to wait another 5 years.


You say you want a revolution: American radical Jerry Rubin comes to town and incites the students to occupy the Faculty Club. It was the Sixties, man. And this was the high point of the Sixties at UBC: 2,000 students spent the night in the Faculty Club, drinking the profs’ liquor and skinny dipping in their swimming pool. They even brought in a band. In the aftermath, there was a teach-in about educational reform and eventually more power for students in University governance.


The famous Pit Pub, named by David Suzuki, opened in the SUB. Until the 1960’s UBC was a dry campus (for students) and the AMS was a dry organization. In 1968, however, students pushed for a drinking space; so did David Suzuki, then a UBC professor and later a famous environmentalist and television personality. Soon after the SUB opened in 1968, temporary drinking spaces were created in it, and five years later there was a permanent home for the drinking establishment, named The Pit Pub.


Storming the wall: the first year of the annual UBC tradition. Storm the Wall was introduced to campus by the head of UBC Intramurals, Nestor Korchinksy. Combining running, biking, and swimming with climbing a 12-foot wall, the competition became immensely popular and in 2012 was voted the quintessential UBC experience, beating out sleeping in class, puddles, and construction.


Have you seen my Volkswagen? Maybe it’s up a pole. The Engineers were notorious for their stunts over the years. Besides hoisting Volkswagens on various structures (including San Fran’s Golden Gate Bridge in 2000), they once stole the Nine O’Clock Gun from Stanley Park, the Speaker’s Chair from the Legislature in Victoria, and the Great Trekker trophy from the AMS offices. Not to mention their notorious Lady Godiva Ride.


What’s this, a Trojan Horse? Yes, at the annual Welcome Back Barbecue. AMS Executives perform a public service by distributing free condoms. Dating back to 1984, the Welcome Back Barbecue continues to this day as a way of welcoming students back to campus in September with a concert and partying.


The Goddess of Democracy appears on campus to mark the anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre. Two Vancouver groups worked with the AMS during 1990 to have a replica created of the statue that students in China put up during their democracy protests in 1989.


Would you like a little pepper with that? Anti-APEC protesters get pepper sprayed by RCMP on campus. Students were objecting to the presence of the leaders of China and Indonesia at a high-level Asia-Pacific conference at UBC. Canadian Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien, got involved by making an offhand comment about pepper that resulted in a national controversy which lasted for months.


Students vote to pay $80 million towards the cost of a new Student Union Building (later to be called the Nest). Now there will be room for the 50,000 UBC students and an end to the conflict about what to build at the centre of campus.


The Nest at last! The 2008 referendum for a new student union building was followed by several years of negotiation with the University, an official groundbreaking ceremony in 2012, many years of construction, and a contest to choose a name, before the building finally opened on June 1, 2015.

You may also be interested in these links:

The Hundred Year Trek






AMS Poem

AMS Quiz

AMS Awards

Councillor of the year Award

Begun by the Executive in 2005-06 in an attempt to restore relations between the Executive and the rest of Council after a difficult year in 2004-05, the Councillor of the Year was chosen by the Executive from 2006 through 2020.  In 2021 the process was thrown open to all of Council, who got to vote for a Councillor of the Year and several other awards.

Councillors of the Year Award, 2021

Great Trekker Award

The Great Trekker award was initiated in 1950. This award is presented by the AMS to a graduate of UBC who has:

  • achieved eminence in his or her chosen field of activity;
  • made a worthy and special contribution to the community; and
  • evidenced an especially keen and continued interest in his/her Alma Mater and rendered particular service to the undergraduate and graduate students.

The award is also said to commemorate the spirit of the Great Trek of 1922, the march by UBC students that helped convince the government to provide the funding needed to build the current campus in Point Grey.

Great Trekker Award, 2021

Just Dessert awards

Brought to you by the AMS and the Alumni Association, Just Desserts is an annual awards ceremony to recognize students, faculty, and staff who have shown exceptional service to the students of each constituency.

Award Criteria:

  • faculty, staff (including teaching assistants) and/or students who have gone above and beyond in their service to the constituency may be chosen as recipients;
  • one recipient per AMS Council seat of a constituency;
  • if a constituency holds more than one Council seat, at least one recipient must be faculty;
  • recipient choices must be approved by the Council of the Constituency. Minutes of the meeting must be presented upon request.