Campus Connection: ZBT kickstarts Late Knight Gannon program

Gannon University’s Office of Student Development and the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity took home the giant stuffed teddy bear for the success of the “Carnival at the Carneval.”

The first event of the Late Knight Gannon pilot program attracted nearly 300 guests to the Carneval Athletic Pavilion on Friday night, according to ZBT Vice President Abrar Rahman, who applied for the program’s $500 funding and organized the event.

Rahman and his fraternity brothers patterned the event after Get Rec’d, OcSoberfest and Winterfest, which attract around 300 students on average, Rahman said. ZBT’s goal was 150 guests.

“We weren’t hoping to reach that number because those are established, well-made events,” Rahman said.

By collecting surveys and counting submitted raffle tickets, the sophomore biology/pre-med major estimated the actual attendance around 280 or 290 students.

“That was double the goal almost,” Rahman said. “We were very pleased with that number.”

Julie Srnka, assistant director of student development programs and a member of the five-person board who reviews the Late Knight Gannon applications, said she was impressed with ZBT’s overall effort, from application to execution of the event.

“Even just on paper, they seemed to have things thought out,” Srnka said. “We were a little bit concerned for the first event that whatever student group would do it would not have enough time to get things organized.”

Despite the time crunch, once Rahman and ZBT learned they had won the first event slot, they immediately got to work. Rahman said the difficult part was just keeping track of all of the office communication and paper trail of forms that needed completing.

“The sheer level of work and communication within all different departments of Gannon was staggering,” he said. “It wasn’t overwhelming, but there was a lot to work with.”

But the effort exerted in contacting help from the university is worth avoiding the stress that comes with organizing a student event all alone, Rahman said.

“You have to ask for help,” he said. “You have to work with the committee and you have to delegate responsibility. An event this size cannot be run by one student. It’s impossible.”

Srnka said advertising was one of the event’s biggest challenges, but the three remaining Late Knight Gannon events will have plenty of time for getting the word out.

“It was so soon after students came back,” Srnka said. “The next events we have a lot more lead time, so we’ll be able to plan ahead for any of those kinds of contingencies that might come up.”

The criminal justice program and Alpha Phi Sigma will host an event on Feb. 15, which will feature recreated crime scenes.

The A-Team, an affiliate of Gannon’s Violence Prevention Office, are planning a dubstep glow party Feb. 26.

Annlyn Harvey, assistant resident director of Crispo Hall, serves as the hands-on adviser to the students who receive the program’s funding and plan the event. She said Rahman and ZBT kicked off the program on a high note.

“Part of Late Knight Gannon is also to help students develop and foster leadership within the group,” Harvey said. “Abrar did a wonderful job displaying his leadership capabilities. The brothers of ZBT and volunteers all took ownership of specific elements and followed through.”

In an October story, SGA President Ange Coustillac said she was anticipating the participation in Late Knight Gannon and both SGA and APB were considering reallocating the use of the activities fee to funnel more funds into the program. That decision is, as of now, on hold, but Coustillac said she thought the “Carnival at the Carneval” was a “huge success.”

“We have not had as many applications as we would have liked,” she said, “so we are going to wait and see how it continues to play out this year.”

Despite the shortage of incoming applications, Srnka said she thinks Late Knight Gannon has staying power for its potential of quality student-organized programs.

“It seems that there’s definitely an interest in this, and I was pleased on Friday night to see how the students could come together to create a program,” Srnka said. “All they need it seems is a little bit of financial support. I think there’s a lot of creativity out there and it would be great to see students doing this on a regular basis.”