Bermuda Shorts Day – Q&A

Bermuda Shorts Day – Q&A

Bermuda Shorts Day – Q&A 150 150 Michael Brown

The countdown is on! Get ready to break out your best Bermuda shorts and join us at The Den for a tropical send-off to the semester!

Celebrate the last day of classes in the Den! Bermuda Shorts Day party: April 12, from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Featuring drink specials and special drinks (with alcohol or alcohol-free), free food and snacks, games and prizes, DJs, karaoke, and more.

Never heard of Bermuda Shorts Day? BSD is a UCalgary tradition dating back to the 1960s. What began as an organic, student-led gathering eventually peaked as an annual celebration in the early 2000’s with thousands of students attending an outdoor concert and beer gardens in a former parking lot on the south side of campus. While BSD attendance has never again reached those same legendary numbers, the spirit is still alive at the Den.

The SU knows that students want to celebrate the last day of classes. While the SU does not own BSD as an idea or a day, the SU has put together an annual BSD event since the eighties. Since 2009, attendance and interest in the SU BSD event has declined. At the same time, the university has dramatically increased costs on the SU for this event. In the years just prior to the pandemic, the event cost nearly $100,000 to run. The SU cannot justify an annual and ongoing loss for such an event.

That’s why the SU is hosting its BSD event in the Den & Black Lounge this year. This re-imagined event still comes with great entertainment, food and drink specials, games, prizes, and the opportunity to wear your tackiest tropical wear!

We know students will have questions about this change. To help with that we’ve tried to answer the more common questions we’ve received. Please look through the below Q&A. If you still have questions, please reach out to the SU.


When is BSD?

  • This year’s SU run BSD event will be on April 12th from 11am to 5pm in the Den & Black Lounge.

Why is BSD changing?

  • The SU works to be good stewards of student fee money and the revenue generated by SU businesses in Mac Hall. Prior to the pandemic, BSD costs began to soar with the university downloading tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of costs onto the SU. The event has cost the SU around $100,000 per year in recent years. In past years during and after the construction of the Taylor Family Digital Library the SU been prohibited from using the south quad for its BSD event. Instead, the BSD event was run in a parking lot where the SU was charged $16,000 for that space alone. Other downloaded costs include:
    • Campus security for the event and entire campus on BSD
    • Calgary Police on campus in addition to campus security
    • Paramedic and ambulance costs
  • This year’s re-imagined BSD will help lower the financial costs of this event on the SU, while still offering students a fun and engaging BSD event in the Den & Black Lounge. Declining student interest and attendance and increased costs imposed by the university has led to ever-increasing losses for the SU in the years just prior to the pandemic.

Why can’t BSD look like it did in the past?

  • In past years BSD has been hosted as a large outdoor event with a concert but this is not a possibility anymore due to growing costs. The SU’s BSD event has gone from a bottom-line cost of $17,000 in 2009 to one of over $98,475.46 in 2018. The university also charges the SU for security both inside and outside the BSD event footprint, resulting in a large majority of expenses spent on these university-imposed costs of security and the use of the parking lot. Student engagement has also continued to diminish in past years, making it extremely difficult to overcome the cost of BSD because of reduced revenues from beverage sales.

What will the SU’s BSD event look like this year?

  • This year’s SU BSD event will be hosted in the Den & Black Lounge with food and drinks, games, lots of prizes and giveaways and as always, the chance to dress up in your brightest, flashiest, and most outrageous tropical clothing.

How will the SU make an indoor party at the Den fun?

  • The SU is working to make sure all the best parts of BSD are still present at this year’s event. This includes energizing entertainment, food and drinks, prizes, and a chance to connect with your peers, dressed in your best tropical, neon, and flashy outfits.

If I want an outdoor BSD party similar to what used to happen, how can I make that happen with the SU?

  • The main thing students can do is come to BSD and show your support this year! Student attendance and interest in the SU’s BSD event has declined which has made organizing the “classic” BSD event very challenging, especially with university imposed costs increasing substantially. Reduced student engagement not only makes it hard to cover the financial costs of the BSD event but it makes it challenging to justify hosting the event if only a small portion of students show interest. If students show their excitement for the BSD event this year in the Den & Black Lounge, and interest grows, the SU could look at a more traditional BSD event.

What events will be offered at this year’s BSD?

  • This year’s BSD will be offered at the Den & Black Lounge and include food and drink options, lots of free stuff, and entertainment. Whether you want to have some food and a drink or come and take pictures in the photobooth with your friends, there will be something for everyone. Come and connect with your campus community in celebrating the end of the winter semester together.

Why has the SU cancelled BSD in previous years?

  • The large outdoor event many remember BSD being was forced to change when faced with the health and safety challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. Though even before the pandemic occurred BSD was facing many challenges related to student engagement and the financial burden on the SU. The SU runs its BSD event without the help of the university and has been faced with large university-imposed costs for rental space and security. The goal of this year’s BSD is to provide a safe and welcoming environment that takes these concerns into account while allowing individuals to feel a sense of unity and university pride.

What are the barriers faced by the SU when it comes to running the classic BSD event?

  • The SU faces many barriers when running the classic BSD events, including financial barriers, lack of student engagement, increasing costs of security and rental space, and reduced support from the university. These barriers have been particularly hard to overcome in recent years which has resulted in the decision to reimagine what an SU BSD event should look like. Holding the SU run BSD event in the Den & Black Lounge addresses these barriers effectively and is the most viable option at the current time.

Why has the university changed its mind on support for BSD?

  • In 1989 the university approached the SU to create a single, large, controlled BSD event where there would be no drinking outside of the beer gardens. Although, in more recent years, the university appears to support BSD less and has imposed significant costs of security and rental space related to the SU run BSD event resulting in significant barriers due to the financial burden. The SU has had to conceive BSD in a way that is financially sustainable given these barriers and others.

How to attend BSD?

  • All UCalgary undergraduate students age 18 or older are welcome to attend. Please bring your UCID and a piece of government issued ID.

Who can attend BSD?

  • All UCalgary undergraduate students age 18 or older are welcome to attend the event. It will be a time to connect with your peers and celebrate together.

How will the SU make safety a priority?

  • The Den & Black Lounge takes pride in keeping their environment safe and welcoming for all. They are Best Bar None accredited, a voluntary program for nightlife venues, designed to keep staff and patrons safe. The Den & Black Lounge have provided a space for students to connect for over 45 years and has trained professionals that make safety a top priority.

When did BSD start?

  • BSD began in 1960 when an individual named Alan Arthur wrote “April 1st Bermuda Shorts Day” on an announcement board. It sparked a celebration for students on the last day of the winter semester and continued to grow attraction as an annual day to celebrate together as a campus community.

What should BSD look like 5 years from now?

  • The SU would love to hear your feedback on what you think BSD should look like in the following years and what you feel is a priority to make the event fun.