Lehigh’s party scene has topped national rankings and earned the university a spot in the Princeton Review’s top 10 party schools in the country. While Lehigh’s nightlife offers a social option for those who enjoy partying, the Lehigh After Dark organization aims to provide alcohol-free social events for members of the campus community on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Lehigh After Dark is implementing an ambassador program in which students serve as spokespeople, marketers and resources for these events. The ambassadors work with student organizations to fund and co-sponsor events. They also attend the meetings for the Lehigh After Dark operations committee — a group comprised of six faculty members representing all students on campus.
The members of the Lehigh After Dark operations committee work on marketing, outreach, planning and funding. They come together, along with the two student senate liaisons and ambassadors, to collaborate and discuss potential alcohol-free events for Lehigh students.
“We have recently established a student advisory board to serve as the ‘student voice’ and communicate student ideas and input to the Lehigh After Dark committee,” wrote Pete Costa, the campaign coordinator for Lehigh After Dark, in an email. “Members are encouraged to attend (Lehigh After Dark) Committee meetings and to communicate information from (Lehigh After Dark) meetings out to their respective groups. The student advisory board reports directly to and meets with the campaign coordinator three times per semester.”
Since Lehigh After Dark was started in 2012, the programming has become increasingly more popular.
In 2014, 20 percent of students reported Lehigh After Dark as the mainstay of the social scene, and in December 2015, this increased to 30 percent, according to Andrea Barker, the chairperson of the Lehigh After Dark operations committee.
Social events in Fall 2015 included the ArtsQuest Kickoff, open mic nights, LU Dance Marathon, several comedians, trivia nights, Linderman’s Labyrinth and Diner en Blanc.
Events such as Diner en Blanc are coordinated by Lehigh After Dark, while other events, such as trivia night, are co-sponsored by a campus organization and Lehigh After Dark.
Costa said student organizations hosting non-alcohol-related events were awarded an average of $503 for programming during the fall of 2015 semester.
In addition, Student Senate is collaborating with Lehigh After Dark and the ambassadors to provide student input on creating alcohol-free campus events.
“I hope we can come up with (Lehigh After Dark) events that are creative and exciting, that students see it just as much an option than going out to East Fifth (Street),” said Alex Buckler, ’19, Student Senate liaison for Lehigh After Dark.
Buckler believes Lehigh After Dark events have the potential to ease the perceived divide between Greeks and non-Greek students on campus. He also said the Lehigh After Dark events are more enjoyable when a diverse group of students are in attendance.
“Lehigh After Dark events could ease the divide between Greeks vs. independents,” Buckler said. “Lehigh After Dark events would be even more fun if it had an even bigger presence on campus.”
Lehigh After Dark is working to reduce the prevalence and severity of high-risk drinking by providing alternative social options for students, Costa wrote. He noted the Fall 2015 attendance per event ranged from 15 students to more than 700 students. An average 180 students attended these events.
Sid Jayaraman, the graduate assistant for the Office of Residence Life, coordinates the co-sponsored Lehigh After Dark trivia nights on Thursdays at Hawk’s Nest.
“(Lehigh After Dark) and trivia night strives to be entertaining and an alternative to regular drinking,” Jayaraman said.
Students who participate in the Lehigh After Dark events often see it as an alternative avenue to have fun, Jayaraman said.
“Trivia is fun to go to because there are different topics each week,” Gwladys Boukpessi, ’18, said. “A random fact you remember from five years ago could be the reason why you won, and it’s a great be with your friends.”
The next large Lehigh After Dark event is a silent disco in Grace Hall on March 24. Other upcoming events include a Residence Hall Association and Lehigh After Dark co-sponsored March Madness viewing party, a Hillel masquerade ball and weekly trivia.