Late Night BU

About the time many parents are home getting ready for bed, their college students are preparing to “go out.” For the past 2½ years, Bradley has regularly staged Late Night BU, a social destination for the hours of 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Food and fun are offered, but not alcohol.

Twenty-five Late Night BUs have been presented since the October 2008 dedication of the popular Markin Family Student Recreation Center; some of the events are so elaborate, they might be called extravaganzas.

Last January, for example, seven interactive media students and their instructors staged a rock show. While other talented students impersonated celebs like Britney Spears and Billy Idol, the show-goers used their cell phones to rate the performances. Attendees took part in other high-energy interactive games, also created by students.

Not every event is technology driven. Sometimes students mingle with llamas, chinchillas, and wallabies. Besides the petting zoos, there’s been a beach party, casino night, ice and roller skating, laser tag, makeovers, dancing, an ’80s night, and a recent Harry Potter theme — to name just a few. Students work as event coordinators to help plan one particular night.

No matter what the theme, there’s always free food (often donated by local companies), new twists on old games, photo booths, crafts, giant inflatables, and some serious prizes. In March the winner of a scavenger hunt was rewarded with airline tickets to Orlando, along with theme park admission.

LYNDSEY WITHERS HAWKINS ’07 MA ’08, coordinator of Bradley’s alcohol education and awareness programs, reports that Late Night BU attendance has risen steadily — events in 2008-09 averaged 850 students, while this school year the average climbed to 1,200. Events are planned for weekend nights and “high-risk” evenings such as the night before Study Day. A record crowd of more than 2,200 turned out for a carnival-themed Late Night BU the Saturday after classes began last August.

Research showed that 92 percent of freshmen attended at least one Late Night BU last year; approximately 60 percent of Bradley seniors attended.

A recent survey asked what participants would have done if they hadn’t attended Late Night BU. Almost 25 percent said they would have been drinking, says Hawkins. For Bradley administrators and the other campus groups responsible for Late Night BU, that means the program is making a real difference.


Mercede’s Restaurants, which operates Alexander’s Steakhouses; Fun on the Run inflatables; Brewer’s Distributing; ConAgra; and Eurest Dining Services (Bradley’s food service) have regularly donated food, cash, or services since Late Night BU began. Other recent donors include Main Street Commons, Allegiant Air, Panera, Spotted Cow, One World Cafe, Hy-Vee, Fresh Market, the Fieldhouse Bar and Grill, Mr. G’s, Allstate, Regent Broadcasting, AT&T, Jillian’s Sports Grille, Ideal Rentals, and Peoria Charter Coach. Bradley’s Alumni Association, the Office of Continuing Education, and the Bradley Bookstore have also helped sponsor events.

Late Night BU is a project of Bradley’s Office of Student Affairs and its departments: Student Activities, Campus Recreation, and the Wellness Program, which operates the alcohol education and awareness programs. Slightly less than 20 percent of student activity fees fund the program each semester.

– By Gayle Erwin McDowell '77