By Julia Dzurillay
Students sporting red pinnies and colorful shirts watched breathlessly as the time on the scoreboard ticked down to zero.
Then, a buzzer went off.
The golden snitch, rather a brunette in a Gryffindor tank top, whizzed off into the gymnasium, with two other players trailing closely behind. Minutes later, they were visible through the windows above the court. The two seekers practically tackled her to the ground and both teams burst out laughing.
No, this isn’t Hogwarts. This is RECreate Your Night — a program, in conjunction with the Collegiate Recovery Program, that provides alternative activities to drinking for students who desire a night of sober fun.
These events are free and open to the entire student body and are a late-night favorite for students of all majors.
The events can be anything from scary movie nights, to crafting mermaid message boards or playing canoe Battleship in the TCNJ Aquatic Center. Last semester, RECreate Your Night hosted 46 events with an average of 100 students attending each event, according to Claire Lowande, the program coordinator of late-night activities.
“We have a student in recovery who comes to a number of our events,” Lowande said. “They are always so appreciative of the opportunity we offer to socialize, have something fun to do, and get out of the house for a few hours without being tempted by drugs or alcohol. This student really exemplifies the restorative nature of recreation.”
According to the College’s 2016 annual safety report, alcohol referral violations on campus declined by 5.5 percent in two years, from 292 cases in 2014, to 276 cases in 2016. The drug referral has decreased by 45.2 percent, from 115 cases in 2014, to 63 cases in 2016.
In 2013, there were over 340 alcohol referral violations. Liquor Law violations on campus, which includes underage drinking, has also decreased (five less arrests) when comparing 2016 to 2014.
“There are a lot of people that get into trouble from drinking and for certain majors, like mine, it’s a bad idea,” said Kaitlyn Bruce a junior elementary education and iSTEM double major. “It can affect your career so much. I think it would be a great thing if people were drawn away from that.”
Students who receive an alcohol referral are subject to reprimand from the Township of Ewing. The punishment can be anything from community service to education mandates, suspension or expulsion, according to the College’s Alcohol and Other Drug Policy.
Bruce estimates that she has gone to between 10 and 20 RECreate Your Night events, with tie-dye night being her favorite.
“Our friends get so into it and it’s one that we can all enjoy together,” Bruce said. “I used to tie-dye with my grandma, so I guess it brings me back to fun times as a kid.”
Students appreciate a convenient and inexpensive opportunity to make crafts with friends.
“It’s nice to have a creative outlet,” said Catherine Rant, a junior biology major. “My favorite (event) was probably mug marbling night. Even though some of the mugs came out bad, we still had fun with it.”
The coordinators of RECreate Your Night aim to foster a fun, inclusive and relaxed environment for everyone. Vivian Louie, a sophomore marketing major, started working at RECreate Your Night as an event assistant last September.
“I went to a lot of the events as a freshman,” Louie said. “I just really enjoyed them. They made my freshman year experience easygoing and less stressful. I’m glad to be a part of something that made my freshman year so special.”
RECreate Your Night has several programs prepared for the spring semester that include games, snacks and crafts.
“This semester I’m excited to co-sponsor a weight-lifting competition with Exercise is Medicine on Campus,” Lowande said. “I’m also planning an Escape Room trip, as always, we have some really great food events this semester like international grilled cheese night. And I’ve got a few more ideas that haven’t worked themselves out yet but that I’m looking forward to.”