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Cardinal Nights is back with substance-free fun on and off campus

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After dark at Tresidder, with bright lights from arcade games and crowd of students

Frosh and first-year transfers enjoy a Cardinal Nights sneak preview, an event with arcade games Sept. 24 at Tresidder. (Image credit: Edith Wu-Nguyen)

Cardinal Nights kicks off this week with a full slate of substance-free social events.

The first is Stuff-A-Critter, a favorite event from past years, which will be held at 9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29, in Tresidder Oak Lounge.

“It’s like Build-A-Bear, but on campus,” said Trista Shideler, assistant director of the Office of Student Engagement. “We get hundreds of stuffed animals, empty like at Build-A-Bear. Students get to put in the fluff and write out a birth certificate. It’s a way for students to create a little buddy to start their Stanford journey or kick off the year, and to meet people and socialize.”

Screen on the Green featuring “Nope”

The following night, Friday, Sept. 30, will feature Screen on the Green, an outdoor movie at Wilbur Field. Students can watch “Nope,” the latest Jordan Peele film, with popcorn and snacks.

Other upcoming events include pumpkin decorating and a Pick Your Own Movie Night, when students are bussed to a theater in Redwood City and given tickets to the movie of their choice.

Cardinal Nights, which is run by OSE’s Campus Life Programming team, has offered substance-free events for the past decade. It started as a way to provide students an alternative to parties, Shideler said, and the demand for the events highlighted the need for more social options on campus.

“We make sure events are affordable or free for students, and we always have financial aid available,” Shideler said.

This year’s version of Cardinal Nights will feature favorite events from past years, as well as some new experiences.

Coming soon: Explore the Bay

“Our goal is also to provide new adventures and experiences for students that help them create fond memories at Stanford, to make friends, and to do things that maybe they wouldn’t have done alone,” Shideler said.

The calendar for the quarter is not yet final. It is likely to include some joint programs with the Well House, Stanford’s substance-free interest house, as well as a new series of events called Explore the Bay. Explore the Bay will offer students opportunities to have fun off campus – at Great America, a San Jose Sharks game, or a Broadway show, for example.

Although Cardinal Nights events are substance free, there may be alcohol available at some of the off-campus venues, and students who are over 21 may choose to buy drinks if they want to.

“At movie theaters, they sell alcohol, but you don’t go to a movie theater just to have a drink,” Shideler said. “You can still have alcohol and be responsible, but it’s not the focus. The focus is on engaging with the people, with the environment, and with the event.”