November 14, 2001

"Late Nights @ Cornell!" To Offer Weekend Events

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Central campus will get to stay up late next semester.

In response to student demand for late-night, alcohol free weekend events, the administration has allocated $25,000 for programs next spring.

The one-time allocation by Susan H. Murphy ’73, vice president of student and academic services, will fund “Late Nights @ Cornell!” an initiative to expand weekend social opportunities on campus.

“Students at Cornell really were looking for things to do late at night on campus, especially on the weekends,” said Catherine Holmes, associate dean of students.

Late Nights @ Cornell! will fund a series of approximately 10 events on Friday and Saturday nights next semester. Any registered student organization can apply for up to $2,500 in funding to sponsor an event. All events must be alcohol-free and held on University property or in recognized fraternity, sorority or co-operative houses that can accommodate at least 100 people.

“This can lead to a more complete set of social activities on the weekend that are non-alcoholic,” said Kent Hubbell, dean of students.

“It’s really something that’s been springing up across the U.S.,” Holmes said. “Penn State has a really big program,” as well as Dartmouth, Florida State University, West Virginia University and the University of Maryland, she added.

The Cornell administration’s initiative coincides with the efforts of Renaissance, a student group dedicated to improving the social scene on campus.

“We’re following the business of Renaissance,” Hubbell said. “The University provides interim funding this year,” he explained, noting that the Student Assembly (S.A.) could decide to fund late night programming through the Student Activity Fee in the future.

Renaissance is collaborating with members of the S.A. and the Student Assembly Finance Commission (SAFC) to draft the constitution for a new organization called C.U. Tonight Commission, which would lead the student effort to fund late-night social programs.

“We knew that we needed to work with them, to form the best possible commission. And they’ve been very willing and helpful — they’ve really gone out of their way,” said Alexa Mills ’03, co-president of Renaissance and a member of the Late Nights @ Cornell! selection committee. “We are almost done,” she added.

Once formed, the commission will apply for by-line funding.

“Our money would come from the Student Activity Fee, not from any administrative account … which is important to the idea of it being a ground-up student initiative,” said Justin McEvily ’03, co-president of Renaissance and a member of the Selection Committee.

“It [the commission] would be very similar to the SAFC,” McEvily said. The commission, however, would fund social events — something the SAFC does not do.

Late Nights @ Cornell is the administration’s answer to the interim lack of funding.

“There was no funding for 2001-02 for Renaissance,” Murphy said. “I thought if we gave them some discretionary dollars this year, they could test out some ideas,” she added.

“We’re excited [funding has] become available and that administrators are on the same page as us in regards to augmenting the late-night social scene,” McEvily said.

Late Nights @ Cornell events would begin at 9 p.m. or later and run until 1 a.m. or later.

“Collegetown is closing up right now at one in the morning,” Holmes said. But, “For many students, their social lives are starting at midnight or 1 a.m.”

The Selection Committee, comprised of students and student services staff and headed by Holmes, is searching for venues to hold the events, and is working with the Willard Straight Hall Administrative Board, she said.

“We want a more student-centered union,” Mills said. “We’re looking at Willard Straight as more of a social space than it is right now.”

To be eligible for funding, student groups must submit an application to 520 Willard Straight Hall by noon on Nov. 30. Applications are available at Willard Straight Hall rooms 401 and 520, Service Centers at Noyes, RPCC and Community Commons, as well as Day Hall 311 and the Information and Referral Desk in the Day Hall Lobby.

“We’re looking for just general good events … events that attract a lot of different populations,” Mills said.

The committee is also looking for variety.

“I don’t think we want to do a DJ for every event that we sponsor. Let’s try some diverse things,” Holmes said.

Events can be co-sponsored, but at least one sponsor must be a registered student organization.

“We’d like to see groups collaborate,” Holmes said, noting that the “opportunity to bring in people to have a good time together is expanded” when more than one group sponsors an event.

Fraternities and sororities can also sponsor late night events.

“They’d be great groups to co-sponsor with some of the campus organizations,” Holmes said.

The committee wants to make events affordable, and has set the maximum admission fee at $3.

The committee first met after fall break, soliciting proposals for Fall 2001 events from residential programming boards and organizations belonging to the Students Activities Forum.

“We decided already on some events that are happening this semester,” Mills said.

The first, a Winter Carnival called “Festival of Lights” on Dec. 1, will feature massages, facials, music, lights, games, movies, food and other events throughout West Campus.

It was the “brain child of a bunch of resident advisers on West Campus,” Holmes said.

“It started out as a spa night … and then they had the idea of doing a holiday carnival,” said Mike Barry, program director for Campus Life. “Those ideas have kind of meshed together.”

A second event, “Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam and After Party” on Dec. 7, will bring five top hip hop poets from New York City to Ithaca. The event is a touring version of the TV series airing on HBO beginning on Dec. 14, Barry said.

The television and film star, muMs, who performed at Cornell last year, will host the event.

“The students really liked him last year,” Barry said.

An after-party in the Community Commons with a “big-name” DJ will follow. According to Barry, the African Latino Asian Native American Programming Board (ALANA), Multicultural Greek Letter Council (MGLC) and Robert Purcell Community Center Council planned the event.

The fall programming will wrap up Dec. 15 at the Johnson Museum of Art, with “a late night fund-raiser, dance and entertainment extravaganza.” Sponsored by Cornell UNICEF, the dance-a-thon event will raise money for Afghanistan.

The administration also hopes to establish a website for next semester, featuring late-night events that are happening on campus.

Peter Lin contributed to this article.

Archived article by Heather Schroeder