The history of Late Nite

A closer look at UIS’s campus fun night

Late Nite is undoubtedly a name recognized by a significant portion of the UIS campus; the program has become ingrained in the culture of UIS. Three nights a semester the Student Activities Committee (SAC) puts on this event in the unique timeslot from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Late Nite first started in fall of 2009, and has undergone some changes in its short history.

The timing of the event stems from its history as an anti-alcohol event. According to Student Organization and Leadership coordinator Mary Umbarger, “We were very much a suitcase campus, and the students that did stay on campus were partaking in some unhealthy choices, so we wanted to provide some alternative programing for them to choose some healthier options to spend their Friday nights.”

The event used to run from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m., but was pushed forward an hour due to restrictions on how late other student organizations were allowed to run programming, which made it difficult to incorporate those groups until 2 a.m.

Despite these changes, the time frame has still made it difficult to get other campus entities to collaborate. “It started with many departments helping out and being present at Late Nite…but, due to short staff and the non-traditional work hours required, most departments have fallen off of participating in it,” said Umbarger.

Umbarger also described a change in philosophy behind Late Nite, pointing out that “Its primary purpose now is to be something fun, we don’t do as much surveying as we used to. The purpose now is to guarantee that there are at least three weekends a semester that there is something big going on on campus.” Umbarger’s favorite Late Nite event was during the Winter Olympics. “We turned Stars Lounge into a ski lodge, and not just in the sense of serving hot chocolate and cookies,” she said.

The organizers also built chandeliers out of branches, turned the televisions into fake fireplaces, and even crafted a large moose head which now hangs in Umbarger’s office.

Even though the university is experiencing a period of rapid growth, Late Nite has been having less success over the years. According to Umbarger, attendance for Late Nite had actually been going down until this year, when she and SAC began to revamp the program. “We’re trying to breathe some new life in it; if you do the same thing it gets a bit repetitive,” said Umbarger.

Some of the ways that the Office of Student Life is attempting to revitalize the program is through the inclusion of student organizations as well as changing up the location and layout each time. The March 27 program took a significant step in this direction by not being hosted in SLB, but rather in TRAC.

Umbarger also mentioned the booking of the group That Drummer That DJ for next semester. According to their booking agency Coalition Talent, That Drummer That DJ is “a dynamic and energetic live concept formed in 2009 with the aim of creating a completely unique new type of musical act.”

“It had gotten very monotonous with inflatables in the SLB gym, crafts in the diversity center, special activities in the multipurpose room and food in Stars Lounge, and so we’ve really challenged ourselves to mix that up,” stated Umbarger.

The next Late Nite event will be held in May with a carnival theme. SAC is looking for ways to bring back student organization participation for this event, so interested organizations should be on the lookout for further communication from SAC.