New, old students find fun at the Union

By Lauren Thorbjornsen

Students who were looking for fun found what they were looking for Sunday night at the Illini Union Late Nighter. The Late Nighter, an annual event, offered activities and events ranging from a roller coaster simulator, a rock climbing wall and a performance by a hypnotist.

“Students have told me this is considered the freshman event, but it is supposed to be a welcome to new and old students,” said Jessica Shields, program director at the Illini Union. “It is a student event for everybody. It is to make people feel welcome at the Union.”

Shields said the event had something for everyone, whether they wanted to hang out and listen to bands, participate in a dance competition, or sit in a quiet room and catch up with friends.

The roller coaster simulator, called ‘The Screamer,’ was a main attraction, drawing in freshman Jeanette Wallbaum, who said she felt dizzy after the ride.

“I came out tonight because I wanted to meet new people,” Wallbaum said.

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Students also had access to the newly renovated ‘Rec Room’ of the Union, which has ten new pool tables, a big screen television, couches, arcade games and a brand new bowling alley, all of which students got to play for free.

After such a busy night, hungry students could go to the restaurants in the basement of the Union where there was free food, including garlic rolls from Sbarro and egg rolls from Rice Garden.

A committee of students from the Illini Union Board and 20 other registered student organizations (RSOs) have been meeting since March to put this night together, Shields said.

The RSOs served as hosts to the different attractions or served as entertainment.

The Other Guys and Rip Chords, both singing groups, were just a couple of the many performers that entertained in the Courtyard Cafe.

Some student organizations also used the event as a way to promote their club, including Illini Pride.

Ankit Patel, senior in business, took an opportunity to tell students about the first meeting for Illini Pride this Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Foellinger Auditorium before introducing the comedy duo Alfred and Seymour. Patel said it was the first time Illini Pride had volunteered at the Late Nighter.

Other groups that volunteered at the event included McKinley Health Center’s health education branch and Sportwell, a recreation division for students. The group had put their own spin on the classic game of Trivial Pursuit by challenging students in ‘Wellness Pursuit.’

“One question we asked was ‘What disease uses insulin?'” said Jennifer Hess, a fitness educator at Sportwell. “Students win water bottles and they also learn about their health.”

Lisa Burgoon, coordinator at Sportwell, said they will be opening a fitness center in the old billiards room for students.

Shields said the Late Nighter was a catalyst for the Illinites program that will host similar evenings of entertainment at the Illini Union throughout the year. She said there are at least three planned for each semester.

For those students who missed out on the fun at the Late Nighter, Illinites start Sept. 10.