Another article I wrote for the Iowa State Daily. Online version can be found here.
Nov 20, 2014
It is 8 p.m. on Nov. 7, and the Memorial Union is as busy as it is on a weekday at noon for lunch.
The ISU After Dark team is spread out all over the building, ready to host a busy evening for all who come through the door. Some students head straight for the comedy performances, while others venture off to make silly putty or sing karaoke with their friends.
For over 10 years this student organization has been planning events and activities for students on Friday nights.
“We’re providing a good option for students instead of going out drinking,” said Amy Patterson, ISU After Dark’s co-sponsorship co-director.
While they started out small, ISU After Dark has grown into a popular weekend option for students, according to Samantha McPherson, president of ISU After Dark. The event is hosted about three times a semester, and over 2,000 students are expected to show up throughout each night.
A mix of regular attendees and newcomers are present at every ISU After Dark. Allision Taplin, freshman in early childhood education, said anytime she is able she comes to the event.
“I would love it if it was more often,” Taplin said. “I love coming here with my friends.”
Evan Woodring, sophomore in software engineering, attended his first ISU After Dark on Nov. 7.
“I watch The League and wanted to see the comedian, Steve Rannazzisi since I enjoy his humor on the show,” Woodring said. “If there are other big names that perform, I’ll definitely come again.”
To get more students involved in this event, ISU After Dark has co-sponsors of different activities provided during the night. The co-sponsors choose what they would like to do to help, and ISU After Dark purchases all materials needed.
“They [ISU After Dark] bring supplies, but we bring the fun,” said David Nguyen, one of the Interfraternity Council’s co-sponsors.
Another co-sponsor of ISU After Dark is Iota Sigma Pi, the graduate honors society for women in chemistry. These volunteers created a station that allowed students to make silly putty.
“Our main goal is to encourage science literacy,” said Andra Castle, vice-president of Iota Sigma Pi. “We do a lot of activities with younger kids, too, but ISU After Dark gives us a chance to promote our group to Iowa State students.”
To keep this event free for students, ISU After Dark relies on funding from other organizations. About 50 percent of their budget is funded through the Government of the Student Body. The rest of this funding is usually raised with the help of other student groups who have the funds to pitch in.
However, due to increased enrollment numbers, some organizations have had to cut back their support for ISU After Dark.
“Due to the larger student population, the Theilen Student Health Center needed to serve the students in a different capacity, and I think [ISU] After Dark couldn’t be one of those higher budget items,” said Valerie Hall, graduate advisor for ISU After Dark.
Hall is not concerned about the cutbacks from other organizations.
“It hasn’t been difficult to find funds from other sources. Other departments have said they’ll definitely support it,” Hall said.
In the meantime the ISU After Dark team is dedicated to putting on the best event possible, while still having fun themselves.
“All of my friends are here, and I get to come and just hang out. We’re like a big family,” Patterson said.