Division of Student Affairs
EDUCATING LEADERS FOR A GLOBAL COMMUNITY
6v. UNIVERSITY OF
Division of Student Affairs
155 Tigert Hall
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611
www. ufsa. ufl.edu/ovp
Student Affairs Update
GATOR NIGHTS: A GATOR TRADITION
For nearly six years, Gator Nights! has attracted growing numbers of participants to a
wide variety of free and reduced activities at the J. Wayne Reitz Union and the
Southwest Recreation Center. Activities have included first-run movies, free sodas and
popcorn, bands, comedians, caricature artists, magicians, tournaments, wellness/fitness
activities, extreme bowling, arts & crafts, and free breakfasts served from midnight until
1:30 a.m. The program is funded by the Office of the Provost and UF Student
Government. Gator Nights! is offered for 13 Fridays each fall and spring semesters and
three Fridays during Summer B term. Attendance figures and basic customer
satisfaction surveys collected overthe past six years prove that this late-night
programming effort has become a Gator tradition.
Building the Gator Nights! Tradition
Gator Nights! became a Gator tradition through consistent scheduling Fridays during
fall and springs semesters and through being consistently entertaining and exciting.
Students recognize the program as something fun to do every weekend. The first Gator
Nights! attracted 1,799 students and guests. Average attendance increased from week to
week and from year to year. (See Gator Nights Attendance 00-05.)
Gator Nights Attendance 00-05
Gator Nights! Staff
"It is a reliable thing for
Gator Nights! to be around
on a Friday night... you plan
ahead of time on attending
because you are interested
in what is going on."
Jonathan Friedel, UF Junior
0 20000 40000 60000
* Average Weekly
* Attendance Each Year
# of Students
Contact information for this publication:
Office of Student Activities
330 J. Wayne Reitz Union
Gainesville, FL 32611
*This publication is available in
alternative print format upon request.
The record of increasing attendance itself is evidence of success. Students and staff
note a number of reasons for the high attendance rate including providing a safe,
welcoming environment that facilitates a sense of community. "Gator Nights! is one of
the big little things that students can enjoy to make UF home," says Nadene Francis,
Assistant Director for Public Relations at the Career Resource Center.
The program facilitates the ability of the Reitz Union to fulfill its role as the community
center of campus. According to Shaquira Etan, third year Community Health major,
Gator Nights! helped herto create her own community on campus as a freshman, "I felt
welcomed by smiling faces and cheerful conversation. I also felt like the University
actually cared about my social life."
University staff members promote the program's ability to create a sense of community
as well. Dr. Wayne Griffin, Associate Director of the Counseling Center, says, "I have
found Gator Nights! to be a very helpful resource for students seeking to develop an outlet
for socializing. I often encourage students to attend the events, not only for the quality of
the activities but also because it increases their opportunities for interacting with others
with whom they may develop ongoing relationships. It is also a way for students to
experience the wonderful diversity of backgrounds and interests present in our student
Gator Nights! appeals to a diverse group of students. Kelly Thayer, third year Wildlife
Ecology and Conservation major, has been coming almost every week for three years.
RD Bonner, first year English major, attends for the movies and has made Gator Nights!
Gator Nights! is fun and entertaining
one of his Gator traditions by attending at least two to three times per month.
Although not directly promoted as an alcohol alternative to students, Gator Nights!
provides a weekend social outlet for students. While difficult to ascertain if Gator Nights!
S; has directly changed drinking behaviors among UF students, according to Tavis
.I Glassman, Coordinator of Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention at the Student Health Care
Center, "Gator Nights! has helped to create a health-promoting environment by providing
students with an exciting alternative to binge drinking."
A Model Program
SThe success of Gator Nights! has been noted by students and staff and has captured the
attention of other college campuses. Since the program began almost six years ago,
staff from fifteen colleges have come to observe the program, including staff from the
University of Arkansas, Bowling Green State University, Central Florida University,
Clemson University, University of Colorado, University of Hawaii, Florida State University,
Georgia Tech University, Georgia State University, University of South Carolina, Texas
A&M, Texas Tech, Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Missouri Columbia,
Magician Alex Geiser with and Florida Atlantic University.
card tricks and illusions
What does the future hold for Gator Nights!? Staff and students hope that the increased
popularity of the program and its national recognition will lead to increased programming
Division of Student Affairs :: 155 Tigert Hall :: University of Florida
*This publication is available in alternative print format upon request.