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Narrator: You are listening to the Duke University Parent and Family Programs Podcast.
Maggie: Hello! This is Maggie Peterson from the Office of Parent and Family Programs at Duke University. We are here today with Christina Zhang and Kacia Anderson from Duke University Union Duke@Nite. Thank you for being here today to chat with us! Could you please start by telling us your names, your hometowns, your majors, and your class years at Duke?
Christina: Yeah, so my name is Christina Zhang. I’m from Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Um, I just declared my public policy and international comparative studies double major with a psych minor, and I’m a sophomore here at Duke.
Kacia: Hi, I’m Kacia. I’m also a sophomore. I’m from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and I plan on declaring my major in sociology with a minor in chemistry.
Maggie: Great, thank you. So, I would love to start learning more about Duke@Nite. Could you tell us what Duke@Nite is and what you all do?
Christina: Yeah, for sure! So, Duke@Nite is part of Duke University Union’s umbrella organization. So, there’s 17 organizations in all that all have something to do with like arts and media programming on campus. So Duke@Nite kind of focuses on alternative programming for students and does programming right in the heart of campus. So, we have a lot of events in the campus center, so like Penn Pavilion, West Union, um Keohane, BC Plaza, things like that. And, so, we have a large event for students every month or so. And then we also run weekly events in the Devil’s Krafthouse in West Union. And we have trivia and Karaoke nights Thursdays and Fridays.
Maggie: So now that we know a little bit more about it, what is the mission of Duke@Nite?
Christina: Duke University Union’s mission and Duke@Nite’s mission as a whole is to provide diverse, community-based, and creative programming and media that compliments the social, educational, and professional aims of Duke University.
Maggie: Could you give us an example of some events that Duke@Nite plans? You talked a little about the weekly and the monthly ones, but what are some that are maybe more signature programs?
Kacia: So, I think that a signature program – at least for these past two years – has been the roller rink in Penn Pavilion in the First Big Week of classes. We use that to kind of advertise our community and get people more involved in DUU as a whole. Last month we did pumpkin painting on the Bryan Center Plaza.
Christina: Yeah, so glow-in-the-dark roller rink is a big one, we just bring in – we transform Penn Pavilion into an entire roller rink with glow sticks and the whole floor lights up, and it’s really cool. Um, we are planning ginger bread decorating in Gilbert-Addoms, actually. So, it deviates a little bit from our campus center programming, but it is going to be a cool event mainly targeted to first-years. And we are hosting a Super Smash Bros Ultimate Tournament next week in West Union which should be pretty cool. The winner will get a Nintendo Switch.
Kacia: Followed by second place also getting a Nintendo Switch.
Maggie: Those are good prizes!
Christina: Yeah, they’ll be awesome.
Maggie: You started talking about campus centers – I think sometimes we don’t all know what you are talking about when you say campus centers. Could you explain what that is?
Christina: Yeah, so campus center is just, um – kind of an – it’s just kind of like a fancy word just to say BC Plaza – the Bryan Center Plaza, West Union, Penn Pavilion – just areas of high student traffic. Just so that our programming is really accessible towards everyone. Because – yeah – we call them campus center because it’s right in the heart of campus, so it is really frequently visited by students. So that is where we hold a lot of our programming.
Maggie: Great, thanks! What events are you most proud of and why?
Christina: Um, I think I am really proud of the glow-in-the-dark roller rink. That one always is an amazing event because it is the first big week, freshmen are really excited to be at Duke. They are all excited about these amazing opportunities, all the amazing events going on, and the glow-in-the-dark roller rink – we always have amazing – like awesome attendance and it always attracts a lot of first-years to join Duke@Nite or even Duke University Union because they know a little bit more about what our mission is and what we strive to do during the year, so that is always a really cool event.
Kacia: I also second glow-in-the-dark roller rink. That’s actually how I first learned about Duke University Union and Duke@Nite. It was probably one of the main drives of me joining Duke@Nite. So, definitely have to be proud of that. And taking part of it this year and helping organize was like really fun.
Christina: Yeah, trivia is also a really good one. It’s really cool to see that like every week, a hundred or so students – like these past two weeks we’ve had over a hundred students, sometimes a little less than that, sometimes a little more. Um, like they consistently come out to answer trivia questions in the Krafthouse!
Kacia: Yeah, I also think that the theme nights really help a lot. Like, we did the Harry Potter and we had our highest attendance this year with Harry Potter trivia. Last night there was Office trivia, and I think that was really popular as well.
Christina: Yeah, so I think it is really growing in popularity which is something I am really proud of.
Maggie: The theme nights – those are such fun themes! How do you come up with these ideas?
Christina: Um, it’s a lot of trial and error, honestly.
Christina: Like, last year we did kind of more niche trivia nights. Sometimes we had like global health and like building off monthly themes, but sometimes those don’t get us traction. And then, every year when we get new committee members they always have fresh ideas to pitch so that is really awesome. So just building off of each other’s ideas and what has worked in the past and what hasn’t.
Kacia: Yeah, definitely working on what works in the past, but also you have to stay up and current with the times. So, like, we never did TikTok trivia last year, because TikTok wasn’t it, it was more so Vine. Now, different apps are coming up and different themes are more interesting and certain shows are getting rebooted so just trying to join in with what the student body wants.
Christina: Yeah, like Nintendo Switch made a huge comeback with Super Smash Bros. Like, it used to be a kind of an older game like on a Nintendo 365 or whatever it was. But in so many – I’m pretty sure every common room has it and everyone plays in their own common room. So this year we were like, “why don’t we do a tournament?”
Kacia: And that was really popular.
Maggie: Kacia, you talked a little bit about this, but how did you all find Duke@Nite?
Kacia: So, I mainly found Duke@Nite through the glow-in-the-dark roller rink during First Big Week. Um, and then I think in our Facebook group from Class of 2022 somebody in DUU exec put an application in for first-year interns for Duke@Nite – or for Duke University Union as a whole but specifically you could intern for Duke@Nite or whatever other committee they put you on. So, I – through that process of becoming an intern got accepted and then the committee I was placed on happened to be Duke@Nite, I guess because I mentioned it during my interview. So that is how I got started with Duke@Nite, and then after the first-year internship finished, I just stayed on with Duke@Nite because I really had a good time.
Christina: Um, I found Duke@Nite because I actually did a Pre-Orientation program – I did PBuild and a lot of PBuilders are involved with Duke University Union. Um, so I saw them, like I saw some of my crew leaders running DUU events, and then I saw them at the activities fair and I thought this sounds really cool because I also did Student Council in high school and it reminded me – like I really wanted to continue that student involvement when I got to university, um, and I thought that DUU sounded kind of like what I was looking for. And then I specifically found Duke@Nite because I knew Frank from PBuild and he looked like he was doing such a great job leading the committee. He was getting me really excited for Duke@Nite’s work, especially with the glow-in-the-dark roller rink. I went my first year and I had an amazing time. Um, so I just joined Duke@Nite, I loved it, and here we are.
Maggie: Thank you for sharing. If you could both describe your roles and responsibilities within Duke@Nite?
Christina: Um, so I am Duke@Nite’s chair, so I lead our committee meetings. I am in contact with DUU advisors. I draft contracts and things like that. And then, I kind of organize the committee, like the committee structure, um, things like that. But honestly, I really rely on my committee members. So, I am definitely not pulling all the strings!
Kacia: So, this year we switched to a subcommittee approach, so right now I am a large event planner. Um, I guess what that entails is like helping Christina with contracts because we have to get those in pretty early when we are doing catering or just getting space reservations. Uh, we also like brainstorm different event ideas and kind of figure out how we are going to schedule staff members so we can keep events staffed or if we are going to hire staff for an event. So, a lot of the ins and outs of the events and helping those flow.
Maggie: Great. So, you both talked about how you knew you were interested and when you found it. But what steps did you take once you decided you wanted to be a part of Duke@Nite or Duke University Union in general? What did you do to make sure that you actually got on these committees and became chair?
Christina: Um, so, Duke University Union has an overall application process in the spring. Um, and then Frank mentioned – he was the chair last year – and he mentioned if we wanted to run for chair, if we wanted to get selected for the application process just reach out to him, just fill out the application, see what happens. Um, so I pretty much just did that. I was like I really love being involved with Duke@Nite, I kind of want to be a little more involved, I want to have a little bit more responsibility, um, so I just applied. And then I was like if I get it, I get it and if I don’t get it, I don’t get it. But I was really excited when I did get it! Yeah, it’s been a really great time. It’s been really fun leading Duke@Nite, so.
Kacia: I talked about it a little bit earlier, but through the internship program I just ended up staying on with Duke@Nite because I really love it. It was a great continuation of student government activities that I did in high school, and I like being able to have different ideas or have input on the events that go on on-campus and being reflective of different communities that I might be a part of. So, I think it is really all about the work that you put into it and how you stay on top of it. Because, like, the committee is really open. At least for Duke@Nite, we aren’t one of the more selective committees like Last Day of Classes (LDOC). So, if you keep up with it, if you go to weekly meetings, and you really use that meeting time to voice what you want and what you think your peers would like and how you can get those ideas executed.
Christina: Yeah, it’s definitely chill, but I think like with any organization on campus you get in – uh, you get out what you put in.
Maggie: So, what advice do you – either of you – have for someone who’s looking for ways to get involved on campus? Especially at night, maybe some alternatives to going off campus?
Christina: Join Duke@Nite!
Kacia: Quick plug!
Christina: Yeah, but, honestly, getting involved on campus – great way is the Activities Fair at the beginning of the year. I think I have heard of most organizations through the Activities Fair because almost every organization is there because it is such a good marketing opportunity. Um, I would say talking to upperclassmen really helps. I heard of Duke University Union through the Activities Fair but it was primarily through the upperclassmen who I knew who really convinced me to get involved. And I would just say try everything out. Even if it is something that you have never done in the past, but that you have always wanted to do, I think now is really the time to do it. So you should just try as many things as possible!
Kacia: Yeah definitely keeping an open ear. If you are not on your class Facebook group, definitely join there because a lot of events get pubbed there, so you can find out what organization is hosting, and you can comment your NetID. Like there is a lot of posts that say “comment your NetID” if you are interested in that. And even if you don’t really think that is where your passion will be, just trying it once like Christina said can also help you figure out what you do and do not like. Um, talking to upperclassmen is also really good advice. Even with the Activities Fair, like there’s the big one in the fall semester, but even if you miss that – sometimes, like I know my freshman year I had a class conflict so I didn’t get to see a lot of those events – but they also have an Activities Fair in the spring semester, so it’s never too late to start getting involved with something. So I just say go for it.
Christina: Um, Duke University – like specifically for alternative programming like as opposed to going off campus – Duke University Union does a ton of great stuff like that. Like, besides Duke@Nite they also do – they have Freewater Presentations which runs movies on Friday and Saturday nights in the Bryan Center which is really great, um. They do jazz – they have jazz nights like they just had one yesterday. It was like a Latin jazz night.
Kacia: And then also Jazz at the Mary Lou on Wednesdays – on certain Wednesdays of the month. And Freewater – like, they show like recent movies. Like I think they showed The Lion King; I think that came out earlier this year.
Christina: Yeah, they showed Aladdin last week. It was really great. Um, and then, I think for first years too there’s always a listserv that goes out for all –
Kacia: Yes, the LB listserv.
Christina: Yeah, so it’ll tell you events that are going on every single day of the week. So if you are looking for something to do on Friday or Saturday night instead of going out, they’ll always have events posted. And DukeGroups also always has every single event listed. So those are really great resources.
Maggie: Great. Thank you so much for talking with us today. Do you have any last thoughts that you would like to share?
Kacia: Hmm…Join DUU!
Christina: Yeah! Join DUU and join Duke@Nite!
Maggie: You have been listening to Maggie Peterson from the Office of Parent and Family Programs at Duke University. This concludes our interview with Christina Zhang and Kacia Anderson from Duke University Union Duke@Nite. Tune in next month for another one of our podcasting series.