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Late-night fun offers alternatives




Drinks flowed from a keg Friday night in Memorial Union as Fort Hays State University students ate free Mexican food and listened to an acoustic performer.

The root beer-fueled evening was FHSU's After Dark program. The monthly night, an alternative to socials with alcohol, provides food and entertainment for the students. Community members can pay $3 to join the festivities.

After Dark is sponsored by Memorial Union through the Center for Student Involvement, and it is supported by Greek organizations, Tiger CLAWS and University Activities Board.

"The idea is to promote healthy activities, safe activities within a college setting. That way, they aren't out getting in trouble," said Vincent Bowhay, assistant director of Memorial Union.

An average of 500 people attend each month, and 2,000 people checked-in last semester. Three thousand people are expected to have attended by the end of this semester.

Attendees can win prizes if they stay until the program ends at 1 a.m. Friday's drawings were for a 40-inch flat-screen television, an iPad and a mini Nintendo Wii.

The "Pitch Perfect" film was shown, and participants could craft Valentine's Day bags and journals. Bingo was offered, and Twister could be played on an inflatable surface.

Edith Reza, a senior, said the program is important because it offers alcohol-free entertainment to students.

"I think it's a really great way to get students involved so they're not out drinking," Reza said. "It gives people an alternative, and it also gives people something fun to do. It's not the same thing they do every weekend."

After Dark also fights FHSU's reputation as a party school, she said.

Chris Valdenar, a junior, said he wanted to make new connections at the event.

"I just transferred here, just got into town last week, and I don't know that many people around campus," Valdenar said. "I thought this would be a great opportunity to meet people."

The next After Dark is Feb. 7, and it will feature "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" and its sequel.