Expanding your weekend and finding a community with Cardinal Nights

The program of alcohol-free social events is just one of the ways the university is working to prevent the potentially risky consequences of drinking.

If you’re feeling like the red Solo cup has become a boring cliché of college parties, or you’re looking for a fun night without the hangover, you might check out Cardinal Nights, Stanford’s alcohol-free social events. Open to everyone, events range from high-energy stress relievers like dodgeball to more relaxing events like “Chill Music Café Night.”

The all-inclusive program is just one of the ways the university is working to prevent the potentially risky consequences of drinking.

Cardinal Nights

Students attend the New Student Party at the Arrillaga Alumni Center last month, an event co-sponsored by Cardinal Nights. (Image credit: Tiffany Ong)

“Most events are packed beyond capacity, and we hold at least three events every weekend,” says Ralph Castro, associate dean of students and director of the Office of Alcohol Policy & Education (OAPE). Although Cardinal Nights has only been around a few years, the successful program has garnered national recognition.

Events are diverse and affordable or free with a student ID. Past events have included a private screening of Venom in Cubberley Auditorium, and escape rooms. For those looking to get off campus, Cardinal Nights also hosts trips to the San Francisco Ballet and the SAP Center in San Jose to see the Sharks play.

Cardinal Nights is one of Stanford’s initiatives to combat high-risk drinking among students and offer an alternative to the drinking culture on campus.

When it comes to alcohol, the university does not tolerate reckless drinking – lawful or unlawful – and its resulting behaviors. Castro says that students can quickly learn of the consequences for excessive drinking, which can include removal from university housing for repeated alcohol-related offenses. But just one violation can lead to citation, arrest or even prosecution.

“One of the most troubling consequences is being transported to the hospital,” says Castro. “That’s just awful for everyone, including members of the community who witness the event.”

In addition to Cardinal Nights, Castro says OAPE has other efforts designed to keep students safe, including if there is drinking involved. The 5-SURE program provides safe rides for students to and from a variety of campus locations, ranging from parties and sporting events to campus residences, libraries and department buildings. Short for Students United for Risk Elimination, the service is available seven days a week from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.

On the weekends, a similar service called 5-SURE on Foot deploys a team of student staff who keep an eye out for potentially dangerous situations in high-traffic party areas on campus. If you’re feeling unsafe walking back to your dorm on a Friday or Saturday night, a team member will gladly walk you home.

5-SURE is a great way to avoid falling victim to criminal activity on campus at night. So the next time you’re worried that your designated driver isn’t sober enough to get you home safely, call (650) 725-SURE and request a ride or seek out a student team member.

Further details about the 5-SURE program and the university’s policies on alcohol use are available on the Office of Alcohol Policy & Education website.

More information about Cardinal Nights, including a list of upcoming events, is available on the program’s Facebook page, @cardinalnights.