It’s Saturday night. And many students are looking to the University’s cultural advisors for their weekend plans.

During the school year the group hosts late-night events each weekend — scavenger hunts, comedians, dance parties, a coffeehouse open mic night. Each weekend is something new and different.

The series is called CA Alternatives. It started two years ago when Aleah Goldin, ’13, pitched the idea to Lisa Miles, associate director of Common Ground. Goldin is one of 14 cultural advisors (CAs) living in the residence halls and working to create inclusive and supportive communities across campus.

“I work with the best students on campus,” Miles says. “They are great, very creative and dedicated. They work very hard. I think CAs are contributing something really meaningful to students here. They are changing campus.”

The late-night events offer options for students who may not want to spend Saturday night at Boatwright or on fraternity row. Students come up with ideas and plan the events. Goldin coordinates the series.

Last year brought star-gazing, pumpkin carving, and a recyclable crafts night. This year, a carnival night kicked off the series. More than 150 people attended.

Each event is organized by a different advisor. Goldin says that’s one of the program’s biggest strengths. The CAs each host a night based on their ideas and interests.

This fall, Chun Li, ’15, planned the UR Amazing Race, a scavenger hunt to help introduce first-years to places on campus they wouldn’t necessarily know existed.

The feedback for the series has been positive.

“Two years later it continues to work, and there are even more people than ever who are excited and thrilled about the events,” Goldin says. “That’s awesome.”
Cultural advisor Abbey Warchol, ’13, says the CA Alternatives series attracts different people and helps make everyone feel comfortable bringing his or her entire self to an event.

“There are first-years, seniors, international students — really different social positions on campus,” Warchol says. “But students feel that this is a safe place to interact. It’s not formal. They are not in class. They don’t need alcohol to break that barrier.”

At Common Ground, Miles agrees with Warchol. She’s also incredibly pleased with the extra layer of inclusiveness brought about by the series.

“Maybe a student is going to a party and then she thinks that’s not what she wants to do that night,” Miles says. “So the question is, ‘Where is my destination, where am I headed?’”
Questions like those are what motivate Daniel Fairley, ’13. He believes in the importance of providing diverse programming to students who do not necessarily want to party every weekend, or at least events that show students it is all right not to party every weekend. 

“It just gets repetitive and monotonous,” Fairley said. “Sometimes you need something that is different. When maybe you are having a really big exam, and you just want to go and frost your own cupcake.”