What happened to free events?

Fun events free of charge are beginning to dwindle, resulting in fewer opportunities to mingle.

by Connor Nikolic

“What’s going on down there tonight?”

That’s the text I’ve received from a few friends most weekends for the past two years. More often than not, we manage to put together an agenda of places to go and people to see. When I began college, I met new people through the University of Minnesota’s free activities. However, I realized early on that most students aren’t interested in attending or paying for the types of activities that the University organizes. Soon after that, I lost interest, too.

I don’t like to spend money. If something costs more than a few dollars, I probably won’t go unless I have a vested interest, as I do in Gophers sports games or shows in which my friends participate.

Remember the free Spring Jam concerts that we used to hold behind Coffman Union? I never minded if the headlining artist was a joke (here’s looking at you, New Boyz). Rather, what intrigued me about these shows was that anybody could come and mingle with their fellow students and let loose as one student body — for free.

In a world after free Spring Jam headliners, what other free events attract a large percentage of University students? The occasional football games for which some free tickets are given? I’m sure that the University can come up with something better.

As fun as free events such as Trivia Night in Goldy’s Gameroom or free movies outside the St. Paul Student Center sound, a very small percentage of our tens of thousands of students are probably going to attend. This is partially due to lack of advertising, but also because most students just aren’t interested in these activities.

I’m not saying that the University needs to bring back its former Spring Jam format. But the addition of an event that a large proportion of students could and would want to participate in, whatever that may be, would go a long way toward making everyone’s experience that much more memorable.