Multimedia Project Story
It’s 11 p.m. on a Thursday night at Lehigh University. Some students are in the library, wishing they were elsewhere. Some are with friends, watching a movie or playing some cards. And of course, some are in the basements of off campus fraternity houses, drinking cheap beer and dancing. Lehigh has garnered a reputation as a “party school,” and it isn’t completely undeserved. Students complain that there isn’t anything better to do than drink at night, and that both Lehigh and Bethlehem only offer daytime entertainment. Lehigh After Dark is hoping to change that.
An initiative to provide students with alternative nighttime activities that don’t involve alcohol, Lehigh After Dark is shooting for variety and attendance. After coming to campus only a few years ago, the program has had its share of challenges.
Jennifer Chow, ’14, is a graduate student in charge of LAD’s social media accounts. She acknowledges that the program still needs some work in certain departments, such as marketing and dismantling a Lehigh “party school” mentality.
“There are a lot of pockets of campus that don’t necessarily want to go out every weekend,” said Chow. “We try to get the clubs to promote us. Get their members to get involved, then get their friends involved, since we obviously can’t get to everyone.”
Chow said that while Lehigh After Dark does occasionally host events, they normally find different clubs, organizations and students on campus to host the events. One of these events was a swing dancing club dance lesson, and different students head trivia every week.
Sam Zuckergood, ’16, hosted a trivia night during the fall semester. “I only did it because it was mandatory,” she said, referring to her duties as a Griffon. “Not a lot of people came.”
Whether this is a result of poor marketing or lack of student interest is up for debate.
“There’s a stigma against Lehigh After Dark,” said Chow. “Lehigh is kind of known for other activities on the weekend, but you don’t have to go out every Thursday, Friday, Saturday night.”
Christina Okoye, the graduate assistant of residence life at Lehigh, believes it is more of a promotion issue than a lack of interest.
“I think last year it was a lot more successful in terms of marketing events and promoting Lehigh After Dark,” she said. “This year has been a little bit tougher. It’s a relatively new committee that has been involved with Lehigh After Dark, so organization has been a little on the shaky side.”
Zuckergood feels that even though the aim of LAD is to provide options for students who do not wish to drink on the weekends, it may have ended up driving many students away because of that.
“It excludes students who do want to consume alcohol from the on campus events,” she said.
Though attitudes such as this remain popular on campus, Chow is confident in Lehigh After Dark’s potential.
“They’re really fun events,” she said. “I mean, who doesn’t want to go rock climbing at 2 a.m.?”