It’s a Friday night, and aside from the buzz coming from inside the dorms, Elon University’s campus seems quiet. The students weigh their options for the evening: either go out to an off-campus party or stay in. There is little in-between.
But this year’s Student Union Board has sought to solve this predicament by creating new late-night programming to bring alternative social options for students on the weekends. The new series of events, activities, speakers and performers has been coined Friday Night Light (FNL) and runs from approximately 10 p.m. - 2 a.m. Friday nights to Saturday mornings at College Street Tap House.
The idea emerged out of a need for more student programs during the weekends. SUB has often led what it calls a “three-pack weekend,” which consists of Midnight Meals at 11 p.m. Thursdays in Irazu, SUBLive events and student performances at 8:30 p.m. Fridays in Moseley and SUBCinema movie nights Saturdays at 8:30 p.m. on Young Commons.
Despite the offering of the three-pack weekend, several students still reported there was lack of late-night student programming where students could go to spend a fun, entertaining evening without the pressure of having to leave or go off-campus. In a presidential task force for the 2015-2016 school year, a focus on campus climate initiated a conversation about social interactions and relationships between students.
Faculty and students planned to examine the critical question of whether the university offered sufficient spaces and activities that would promote positive social opportunities and activities for all students, including those who are not affiliated with fraternities or sororities. The consensus was that more should be done.
“The only thing to do on a weekend seems to be going to a frat party,” said SUB President and junior Caroline Blanchard. “We wanted to give more of a safe space on campus people can also go.”
So far this year, SUB has hosted “Saturday Night Live” comedian Colin Jost, an open-mic night and a casino night. Every other weekend, outside organizations have the ability to partner with SUB to sponsor a diverse range of programs. La Habana was a Latin-American-themed event co-sponsored by Elon’s Latin American Student Organization (LASO). Upcoming events include a circus night, Elon’s Got Talent and a glow-themed event later in the semester.
Blanchard said she has been pleased by students’ willingness to participate.
There is no pressure to stay for the duration of the events, so students are free to come and go as they please. Senior Katie Beech recently attended a SUB-sponsored event because of the casual atmosphere.
“My friends and I originally went to [a comedy] event because we heard they were giving out tickets to Firefly, but once we got there, we actually listened to the stand up, and stuck around for the trivia that was happening afterwards because the environment was so good,” Beech said.
The goal of the new programing is to make alternative options the norm and allow opportunities for students to connect with others in a more exciting environment.
Beech said it has something for everyone and all of their events are free and often have free food and giveaways. Some events even include alcohol for purchase for attendees over 21.
“I do go out, but sometimes you just need a night where you still have fun and relax with your friends, and I think SUB is doing a really great job of providing plenty of opportunities for Elon students to do just that,” Beech said.