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UI officials request less money for Night Games

BY JORDYN REILAND | OCTOBER 12, 2011 7:20 AM

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University of Iowa officials say investing in late-night activities is worth the money.

Though the UI has only allocated $300,000 toward providing "non-alcoholic alternatives" for students — last year'sfigure was $500,000 — officials said they will continue to invest in such programs, pending future development of alternative venues in downtown Iowa City.

"If more non-alcohol venues emerge over time downtown, as I believe they will, we may not need to invest as much money in the future for safe late night activities," said Tom Rocklin, the UI vice president for Student Life.

Rocklin said the funding decrease stems from more efficient "economizing" by UI administrators, though he was not able to say where cuts were made.

The Night Games program was established by UI administrators in 2010 to provide students with more late-night opportunities following the 21-ordinance.

"Late-night events are worth the financial expense because our priority as an administration is to maintain student safety and engagement," said Dean of Students David Grady.

Last year, Rocklin said, the program was supported through the UI's general fund, but officials have yet to decide on a source for this year's funds.

Late-night actives are facilitated through organizations in the Office of Student Life and include the Campus Activities Board, SCOPE, Bijou, and Dance Marathon after Dark.

Bill Nelson, the director of the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership, said roughly 41,000 students attended these activities — movies, concerts, comedy shows, and recreational activities — in the 2010-11 academic year.

And he is pleased with the turnout.

"As the activities and events are ingrained in campus culture with time, we will see more and more participation," he said.

Peer institutions, including the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, have similar late-night activity programs, with significantly lower funding.

Gophers After Dark provides 52 nights of programming every Friday and Saturday in the student union, including small or large concerts, comedy nights, and craft projects. The program's $175,000 budget does not include salaries for the staff or marketing for the events. The funding is provided by numerous university partners, said Erik Dussault, an assistant director of student activities of the university.

"Because we have programs every Friday and Saturday night, there is always something going on in the union, and such continuous activities help create a safer environment for our students," he said.
UI officials said the funding for late-night activities is just a small part of a bigger plan.

Kelly Bender, the coordinator of campus community alcohol harm-reduction initiatives, said that while late-night activities alone might not give the campus a direct result of reduction in binge drinking, including it in the larger Alcohol Harm Reduction Plan does.

"By having safe student-run activities, the university is able to promote healthy leisure-time norms, and these opportunities give students a chance to connect with other students, faculty, and staff," Bender said.


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