Posted September 14, 2016
By MARISSA VONESH
Hundreds of University of Miami students flocked to the Donna E. Shalala Student Center (SSC) Friday evening to participate in the first Canes After Dark (CAD) of the semester.
CAD is a free monthly nighttime activity hosted by Canes Night Live (CNL) to act as counter-programming for alcohol-related social events.
With easy accessibility to nightlife in South Beach and Coconut Grove, CAD allows students a campus option to be safe and still be social.
CNL is one of the seven committees under Hurricane Productions, the university’s largest student-run organization that focuses on free entertainment and programming for students.
Members of CNL designed a “Miami Block Party” for Friday’s CAD, comprised of free headphones that were linked to different live DJs, photo booth against a graffiti wall, mock-tails, Cold Stone Ice Cream, chicken and waffles, a pop-up urban art exhibit, caricature artists, stuff-a-Pokémon and an act from the magician, Matt the Knife.
The Miami Block Party’s vendors, artists and themes were locally sourced from the greater Miami area and “brought the city-life to students who may not have cars or may be homebodies,” Alexander Martin, assistant director of Late Night Programs and advisor to CNL, said.
Every CAD is designed to attract students with its convenient location on campus, free food, giveaways and themed activities. CAD committee members utilize creative ideas to entice students, promoting a safe social scene on the university’s campus.
“Canes After Dark is a late night alternative to alcohol and an easy event to attend for the more introverted,” Martin said.
Canes After Dark generally attracts underclassmen, particularly freshman, due to the convenience and the social outlet, according to Natalie Jamal, the chair of CNL and a senior broadcast journalism student.
“Our goal is to extend our awareness to both the freshman and upperclassmen to bring the whole school together,” Jamal said, “It’s a good way for the freshman to socialize, especially after the struggle of the first week.”
Jamal, who has been working with CNL since she was a freshman, has seen the organization’s impact on the university. Jamal shared that students will come up to her and thank her for the stress-relief that CAD provides.
“Feedback reassures me what I am doing is right,” Jamal said.
The Miami Block Party proved to be a success for the students and CNL alike. Before the start of the event, students lined the SSC anticipating the night ahead. The first event of the year, according to CNL, usually brings the most students out because of timing and the giveaways.
“We hope for this,” junior Chelsea Jocelyn, CNL member, said while passing out wristbands to attendees of the event. “My favorite thing is providing free things that are on campus for students to do and promoting alternatives to drinking, plus I like event planning,” Jocelyn added.
This was the first CAD that CNL planned in the format of a block party with activities both inside and outside. The new format was appealing for students.
“Something feels new and I really like it. Everyone is excited, especially the freshman,” Chingiz Bailev, a senior studying engineering, said.
Bailev has been regularly attending CADs since his sophomore year and said that the Miami Block Party was different than other CADs he had attended prior.
Bailev added his appreciation for CNL’s mission of counter-programming.
“I don’t drink so it supplies something for me to do. However, the size of the event usually changes when people figure out where to drink,” he stated.
New freshman students were the main attendants of the block party and were pleasantly surprised by CAD’s giveaways and atmosphere.
“It’s really fun. If you get here early, you get free stuff, which is worth it despite the lines,” freshman Siri Choragudi said. “I was expecting worse but it was good. I probably would’ve gone to a frat if I didn’t come here. I just appreciate that it was on campus.”
Despite traditional trends of declining attendance throughout the year and the lack of an upperclassman presence, CAD normally reaches 500 to 700 students for the remainder of the year, according to Martin.
“Canes After Dark has become one of our most popular events on campus,” Dr. Patricia Whitely, the vice president of Student Affairs, said. “Planned by students, for students, it provides an opportunity for UM students to get together, relax, eat, enjoy performances or just hang out on a Friday night in the Shalala Student Center.”
According to Whitely, Friday’s CAD brought an attendance of 850 students together to celebrate Miami culture and to stay safe in the process.
Canes Night Live has a quick turn around from event to event. The committee has to rapidly brainstorm ideas on tentative themes, check the budget, then quickly call vendors. To increase attendance and continue to give students more of what they want, CNL is hoping to implement a poll system on Blackboard. No themes are set in stone and the committee members said they are open to opinions of students.