Alternative Weekend lets students have fun without alcohol

Tired of partying? The RSO Alternative Weekend provides a different experience from a typical Saturday night.

Shannon Calus, junior in LAS, and Emma Trapp, junior in Business, started Alternative Weekend in Spring 2010, when they were both freshmen.

“We wanted to hang out with people on the weekends, but we noticed there wasn’t much to do besides go out and party,” Calus said, who is now vice president of Alternative Weekend. Calus and Trapp sought to create an organization where they could meet people without having to drink or go to parties.

“We are not necessarily an anti-drinking club,” Trapp urged, who is Alternative Weekend’s president. “We just wanted to provide social outlets other than drinking.”

Two years after its creation, Calus and Trapp boast 180 members on their organization’s Listserv, and try to host events for the RSO every other weekend. The two founders and the rest of their executive board plan events such as tie-dying, rock climbing and laser tag.

“Anything (our members) would like to do, we try to make it happen,” Calus said.

This year, Alternative Weekend’s most popular event was a trip to Curtis Orchard in the fall. The group then came back for a cookout in Illini Grove.

“I’ve learned that a lot of people like it when we have events off campus, just so they get a chance to get out,” Trapp said.

The club aims to have events every other weekend, but they try to avoid weekends like Dad’s Weekend or the weekend before finals. Most of the events are planned by the executive board, which consists of both founders as well as three friends who started the club with them.

“I will be graduating next year, so I hope someone will want to take up (a leadership role), but we’ll see how that plays out,” Trapp said.

Participants for the events vary from about five to 25 people. The club tries to stay very flexible. Members come to events as they can, and there are no initial dues that have to be paid.

“Sometimes (the executive board) will bring stuff. Like for tie-dying, we’re bringing the dye,” Trapp said. “But it’s just come whenever you’d like to; it’s very open.”

Vishal Piryani, freshman in Engineering, is a loyal member of Alternative Weekend, and tries to attend as many of the social events as he can. Like Calus and Trapp, he wanted to make friends at the University without having to go to parties.

“Despite the fact that not the same people go (to the events) every time, I still meet people and can hang out with them outside of club events, so it’s a different way to meet lots of different types of people,” he said.

Piryani enjoys participating in the organization because its main goal is to meet people and make friends.

Alternative Weekend does not have regular meetings, but it communicates with its members through a Listserv and a Facebook group. Calus manages the Facebook group and adds all the events that the club plans.

“We’re open to new members at all times,” Calus said, “and we’re always open to input from members about events or how the club can grow.”