The catchy CU2Nite posters hanging all over campus are indicative of the new alcohol-free late night events that Cornellians can look forward to with the completion of the CU Tonight Commission’s first ever fundraising period.
The commission said that they anticipate increased student involvement in both the planning efforts for and attendance at the on-campus, late night activities sponsored by CU Tonight. For the fundraising commission, the remainder of the semester looks promising.
CU Tonight, a sub-committe of the Student Assembly (S.A.), does not put on late night social events. Rather, it funds the programming of other student groups on campus that sponsor events taking place between 9:00 pm and 1:00 am.
“What we want,” said Robyn Tortorelli ’04, CU Tonight president, “is to encourage creativity amongst student groups.”
The results of CU Tonight funding debuted with a series of three on-campus events, culminating in an event entitled “Movie on the Slope,” sponsored by the Class of 2005.
The event was “unbelievably successful,” says Tortorelli, citing attendance estimates of approximately 2000 students.
“It shows high demand for this kind of programming,” she added.
In light of the recent crackdown in Collegetown weekend activities, programs funded by CU Tonight should appeal to students. Yet, as Holmes said, “there is not a person who thinks that this will take the place of other parties and events.”
The goal is, rather, “being aware of alternatives,” and not feeling that going out and drinking is the only option, according to Catherine Holmes ’85, advisor to the CU Tonight Commission and associate dean of students for student activities.
“We love to see new and creative ideas [for events], ideas that bring together large numbers of students,” Holmes said.
Because fellow students make up the body of CU Tonight, it is best suited to the late night needs of the student body.
“Aren’t students the best ones to determine what’s the most exciting for students?” Holmes said.
Susan H. Murphy ’73, vice president for student and academic affairs also supports the role of the students in late night programming.
“The future [of late night programming] is really dependent on the students,” Murphy said.
Last semester Murphy allotted $50,000 in grant money to last semester’s Late Nights Committee, a precursor to CU Tonight that was still in the process of obtaining funds from the S.A. last year.
Murphy said she is, “thrilled the S.A. stepped up to the funding.”
“It [the late night programs] got off to a very good start,” she said.
Currently, $6.50 of the Student Activity Fee that all Cornell students pay as part of their annual tuition is directed to CU Tonight, totalling about $85,000 a year.
Holmes emphasized the care that is taken in assessing the value of each event in determining funding. In addition to creativity and drawing a wide range of students, events are chosen on the basis of what the have to offer to the student body in relation to how much money is being spent on the event.
Despite CU Tonight’s first steps, students are still hesitant.
“With upperclassmen, it’s a lost cause. If people are used to going out and drinking, it’s going to be more difficult to draw them to events,” said Peter McFerrin ’03.
Other students have characterized hesitation of the student body at large.
“People are deterred from going because of the stigma surrounding them,” said Robert Williams ’05. “Somehow or other Cornell needs to create an idea that those programs are cool.”
Organizers of CU Tonight said they hope that the student organizers will bridge this gap. CU Tonight’s furthering of publicity is drawing in more applications for the next seven-week cycle.
“There are a lot of big ideas,” said Tortorelli.
According to Tortorelli, the goal is to, “increase awareness of the availability of money.”
The lack of a, “central location for the communication between groups,” explained Tortorelli, led to the creation of a website, www.CU2Nite.cornell.edu.
The site allows any student organization to publicize its late night event with the completion of a few requirements. Perhaps the most important is that the event be alcohol-free.
For the long term success of the program, CU Tonight hopes to, “help groups really commit and follow through,” with their late night planning.
Past disappointments in attendance are cited as areas in need of improvement.
Eventually, CU Tonight is “looking for the ‘wow experience,'” Holmes said.
Proof of the confidence in the program, Holmes and three student members of CU Tonight will be representing Cornell at a national conference entitled, ‘Providing Alternatives: late night and weekend programming’ at Pennsylvania State in University Park, Pennsylvania during an upcoming weekend. They said they hope to take exchange ideas to further improve CU Tonight’s evolving role on campus.
Archived article by Liz Goulding