November Late Night Highlight: SUNY Cobleskill

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November Late Night Highlight: SUNY Cobleskill

Posted by Michael Wacksman on Nov 28, 2018 3:14 pm

Please check out the November Late Night Highlight regarding SUNY Cobleskill's Coby Late Night program. 
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Re: November Late Night Highlight: SUNY Cobleskill

Posted by Jamie Alt on Nov 30, 2018 1:16 pm

Thanks, Mike! Some wonderful information about Coby Late Night! 

I loved some of the themes you talked about (Oceans + Oceans 8, so creative!). What is your process for selecting themes? We also theme our late night events and sometimes it can be a real struggle to come-up with new and exciting themes that are timely and appealing the student population. We haven't found a brainstorming process that works for us yet....

If others have ideas from you campus - let me know! 

Re: November Late Night Highlight: SUNY Cobleskill

Posted by Dillon Deffinbaugh on Dec 1, 2018 6:36 pm

Hello All,

When I began working at Binghamton University (Late Nite Binghamton), I was trying to get our film series off the ground (Fridays) as well as a reconceptualized themed event series (Saturdays), so we only hosted what we call "themed weekends" with the Saturday themes being based on the previous night's film (e.g., Wonder Woman/Late Nite Hero; Cars 3/Race to Late Nite). We found out quickly that certain events were successful, but others felt forced, so it's best to only host these "themed weekends" when the film's theme/title is good enough to produce a strong accompanying event.

Before getting lost in the abyss of brainstorming for large-scale themed events, our staff are trained to select themes based almost entirely on the following three areas:
1) theme
2) "wow factor" (a single main activity which will draw students to the event)
3) title

Once these details are confirmed, staff brainstorm complimentary supporting activities. This process allows us to complete brainstorming for an event in about 30 minutes. After the brainstorming phase, details are turned over to one grad assistant and one to two undergrad staff who team up to complete the event planning process (and make changes as necessary).

We also try to avoid recreating the wheel when selecting themes. Staff are always seeking ideas from other programming boards which could be adapted to our institution. We also find ways to "recycle" our themes by changing the title and sometimes the "wow factor." Our most successful "wow factors" include: live animals, stuffed animals, various inflatables, portable escape rooms, laser tag, casino, and segway racing. It's common for us to "recycle" these ideas once per semester or year.

One unique event we hosted this past year was Late Nite Sexapalooza. This was a sex-themed event with Sex Toy Bingo being the "wow factor." We were surprised at how successful this (fairly educational) event was, and students have been requesting it so much we are turning it into an annual event (our only event where the title and wow factor remain the same year-to-year).

Based on my experiences, I agree with most of what Mike shared, but I have found that, since we are averaging around 500 attendees per event this semester, it has been challenging to develop a process efficient enough to make a loyalty program worthwhile. I'm not sure we will continue this program in the future, but I would love to learn about anything y'all have done which made your loyalty programs successful.

I'd also like to create a shared doc for us to share our most-successful themes and "wow factors." Please send me an email at if you'd be interested in this!