Gannon University students now have a chance to take event planning into their own hands.
The Office of Student Development has announced it will offer four $500 grants to students throughout the rest of the academic year to plan and put on new events on campus.
The three key guidelines of this program – titled “Late Knight Gannon” – are that any event must be held between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m., it must be open to all students and no alcohol is permitted at the event, according to Julie Srnka, assistant director of student development programs.
Feedback from student surveys prompted the idea for Late Knight Gannon, Srnka said.
“Students say there is not a lot to do late at night,” Srnka said. “There have been a lot of students out wandering late at night looking for something to do.”
The university typically has activities planned every weekend, Srnka said, but those events are usually between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., and students are generally out later on the weekends past 10 p.m.. Srnka called Late Knight Gannon a “pilot program” that will aim to provide students with more opportunities later at night.
Commuter Adviser Joe Petrone, a senior biology major, agreed that Gannon doesn’t have enough nighttime activities, but that Late Knight Gannon could change that.
“This is a great way for students, especially commuters, to become more invested in the university,” Petrone said. “This would be a great way for people to learn more about clubs on campus.”
Angela Coustillac, president of the Student Government Association, said the program is a positive step in regards to Gannon’s policies of student behavior and responsibility during late hours.
“The university talks about P.R.O.M.I.S.E. and wanting to give students an alternative to going out and getting involved in things they shouldn’t be getting involved in,” Coustillac said, “but we don’t yet have those opportunities. I think we’re starting to step in the right direction.
“We now have the resources to do that rather than just saying, ‘Can you just be safe, don’t take part in it. Rather than take part in it, why don’t you take part in this.’”
Coustillac pointed to the student activities building at West Fourth and Sassafras streets, newly named “The Knight Club,” as a place where students can plan after-hours activities. Srnka also hinted other spaces could be requested on the Late Knight Gannon applications, such as the Carneval Athletic Pavilion.
The program’s $500 grant will not affect any funding clubs can apply to SGA for, up to $2,500 annually, according to Srnka.
“A lot of clubs probably use [the SGA-appointed funding] mostly for conferences and things like that,” Srnka said.
“There are not a lot of groups that use the money for programming for the whole student body.”
Even students who are not a part of a officially recognized campus group can apply for the grant.
“Any group is eligible,” Srnka said. “It could be a class, a residence hall floor or any group of students that get together.”
The student group that is awarded the grant will then meet with Annlyn Harvey, assistant resident director of Crispo Hall, to plan the event in terms of reserving a space, overseeing the event itself and finally providing a closing report to the student development office.
Harvey said she’s excited for this opportunity to work closely with students.
“I’ve always liked working with and interacting with students in seeing them develop and foster creative ideas,” Harvey said.
“I see myself as creative and I like to see things like that happen.”
If a group applies for one event slot but doesn’t get it, Srnka said she encourages them to apply for one of the other three dates.
Harvey said there is no harm in submitting an application for an event funded with “free money.”
“A lot of people have been constrained with clubs and organizations and their personal budgets,” Harvey said. “This gives them the opportunity to have funds for something that they may not have considered doing in the past, or may have been restricted because of money.
“So in that way, it makes it a little bit more plausible for students to do larger things or do something that’s a little bit more creative or something that we haven’t seen here.”
While Srnka said the productivity of the first year of Late Knight Gannon will determine if the program will be expanded in the future, this program has prompted Coustillac and SGA to begin discussing drafting a proposal to readjust the division of the Student Activities Fee.
Currently, the fee is divided between APB and SGA, 63 percent to 37 percent. Coustillac’s plan is to set aside 5 percent of that total, which amounts to nearly $15,000.
Then, Coustillac hopes the university would match that amount, giving students $30,000 to apply for.
“You can kind of amp this program up on steroids and say, ‘We have $30,000; you can come request $5,000 instead of $500,’” Coustillac said.
“Now you have six huge events during the year that can be offered to all students.”
That proposal is still in its early stages, however, according to Coustillac.
A draft would most likely not be submitted for review until the end of the fall semester, with approval tentatively in the spring.
But for now, students can take advantage of what the university is offering, rather than focus on how such a program ideally would work.
What Late Knight Gannon will do, Srnka said, is “fill up the calendar a little bit more” with activities on campus.
“At this point it’s intended to be in conjunction with what APB does,” Srnka said, “because not any one group on campus at this point can provide activities every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.”