Posted April 4, 2011 by Eric Heilmeier 

Who says nothing good happens after 10 p.m.?

Late night programming has become part of the programming portfolio for many campuses. We have seen through assessment efforts at the University of Michigan that 37% of students participate in risky drinking behavior on weekend nights. To combat this, and help create a safe and enjoyable environment for students who are looking for a social outlet, the UMix Late Night program was created.

UMix Late NightNow in its fifth year, UMix has seen an impact on campus. In our most recent survey of over 1,100 students, we found that the participants who attended a UMix event drank less than they normally would have and 82% of students who attended UMix did not drink at all on the evenings of events.

We regularly assess the UMix program to find the newest attractions or prizes that students would want to win. Through this assessment we have made changes throughout the years. In an effort to make UMix as student oriented as possible, the UMix team is composed of 4 undergraduate students and a graduate intern. The students are responsible for coming up with the programs and working closely with agents to book various acts or novelty events. They are also responsible for the marketing events. Usually, each individual event has a theme, such as "Dueling Pianos," "Skating on Thin Ice," "LOL," "Discover the Unknown," and more. While each event is different, there are several “staple” events, including a free movie, free billiards and video games, karaoke, and the midnight buffet.

Even though UMix was created as an alternative program for students who don’t want to drink or attend parties, we try not to market the program as that, emphasizing the fun and social aspects of the events. We also do not discourage students who may have gone out to a bar or house party prior to coming to UMix. Using the program's strong Facebook following for feedback—whether it’s about t-shirt designs or our next movie—community is buildt outside of the event. We also have worked to create a social outlet by instituting a weekly “Late Night Knowledge” trivia game. Teams of two to five compete weekly for a chance to win prizes, as well as compete to earn points for our final event. The games have created several teams, many of which are composed of people who didn’t know each other beforehand, to come back week after week for their chance to win.

Past UMix events have included racing simulators, indoor roller skating, murder mystery shows, comedians, make your own music videos, and bumper cars. Finding interesting events to do on a weekly or biweekly schedule can be challenging. However, there are several resources available, including the ACUI Late Night Programs Community of Practice.

How does your institution support late night programming? What are some the creative programming ideas you have done?

Eric Heilmeier

Eric Heilmeier is the Director, Pierpont Commons & Associate Director, University Unions at University of Michigan–Ann Arbor.


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