Cardinal Nights, an organization run by the Office of Alcohol Policy & Education (OAPE) that offers alcohol-free events, has developed a growing presence on campus in its third year, with more events offered and a new student staff.
So far this quarter, the organization has sponsored several student activities on and off campus, including a Silent Disco dance and the midnight premiere of the horror film remake “Carrie.”
“I think from last year to this year we are trying to have more of a presence and bigger-scale events,” said Ralph Castro, OAPE Director. “We’re trying to focus more on things that students really want to do.”
Castro said that, according to a recent survey, OAPE is seeing 33 percent of nondrinking students and 65 percent of drinking students attending Cardinal Nights events. The program’s initial focus was on nondrinkers and light drinkers.
“There was a lot of skepticism of something like this happening but over two years now, we’ve been able to push through that and now we have solid data that shows that this is a very effective program at a place like Stanford and it is now being replicated at other peer institutions,” Castro said.
According to Castro, Cardinal Nights is becoming a nationally respected program at private institutions, and Stanford has been conducting consultations with peer universities that are trying to build similar programs.
“We had a hypothesis that if we professionally planned these events that people would still come,” Castro said. “There was a lot of skepticism, but I had a lot of confidence and said if we build this and we do it right and we offer premium programs, students still come.”
The program’s most successful event since the group debuted two years ago was the Welcome Back Carnival.
“Our first event, the carnival, drew out well over 1,000 people. And that included different games,” said Trista Shideler, assistant director of OAPE. “We had a DJ, we had tons of food, gave away T-shirts and had a photo booth.”
Over the past two years, Cardinal Nights has put on 140 events and collaborates with other student groups to host events that align with the organization’s goals, according to Castro.
In its first year, Cardinal Nights initially planned to put on one event per weekend, but instead put on two every weekend. Last year, the program planned to host two events per weekend, but instead put on three.
“If we can provide multiple things on a weekend, then we are able to provide alternatives because when you have options to do things then students are more likely to engage,” Castro said.
According to Shideler, Cardinal Nights hired a group of students to assist with event planning this year, which she said has been an effective strategy.
“I hired a small group of student staff and that’s really going to add to what we are providing for the campus because then I’m having people in the community who can mention ideas from their peers and generate ideas as a group,” Shideler said.
Maddie Hawkinson ’17 is a member of the student team and said she has enjoyed Cardinal Nights programming so far.
“One of my favorite memories to this day was cramming too many people onto a small blanket and curling up with a huge group of my new friends,” said Hawkinson, of a Screen on the Green event.
Melissa Gordon ’15 attended her first Cardinal Nights event, the Build-A-Bear Workshop activity, this year. The Build-A-Bear event sold out its 500 teddy bears in just a matter of a few days, according to Shideler.
“What I liked about the event is that I was able to go with a group of friends,” Gordon said. “We all bonded over making stuffed animals.”
Events being planned for this year include gelato tastings, a trip to Sky High and an opportunity to see “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” on Broadway in San Jose this Friday.
Contact Angelique Dakkak at angeldak ‘at’ stanford.edu.