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The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

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April 15, 2024
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Nightlife at Knox College in A Period of Transition

Nightlife+at+Knox+College+in+A+Period+of+Transition

Nightlife. Maybe it’s the reason you went to college. Maybe it’s something that terrifies you. Maybe you party every weekend and reading this formally written article makes you cringe. Whatever mindset you are bringing into this piece, there is no doubt nightlife is an integral part of Knox College.

Knox’s enrollment is approximately 1,200 students according to their official website. Emily DiBenedetto, a 2022 Knox graduate, reflects on Knox’s small size affecting nightlife.

“In bigger schools, people are going out every single weekend and you can always find a group to go with. This is not the case at Knox,” DiBenedetto said. “Sometimes there is just a dead weekend, which is so bonkers to me because I feel like at other colleges there is always going to be a place to go. Sometimes you have to suck it up and stay home unless you want to go drink by yourself.”

DiBenedetto is a former member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority on campus. Although the student population is relatively small, there are numerous Greek Life chapters active at Knox. Knox College Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL) is comprised of four sororities and five fraternities.

“Greek Life [at Knox] is not as big as other schools and I think FSL having an overbearing presence on campus sometimes contributes to drinking culture because there is a drinking culture within Greek Life in general in this country,” said DiBenedetto, “Even though we clearly have a big drinking culture and there are problems with FSL that need to be solved [immediately], I think not having an overbearing FSL presence causes Knox to not have a crazy binge drinking culture.”

DiBenedetto spoke about her experience with drinking less as a member of the sorority than before they joined.

“I think I drank more before I joined Pi Phi than after. Before joining I drank every single weekend; I got so drunk all the time,” DiBenedetto said. “Once I joined I didn’t party as much as I used to because I was trying to focus on my grades. Instead of going out partying I would hang out with my sisters and have a movie night.”

On the other hand, The Interfraternity Council (IFC) of Knox College has been under scrutiny recently following a controversial registered party near the end of winter term 2023.

The registered party,  titled ‘Delusions,’ was held on March 3, 2023 at Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE). At the party, a wall of messages from an anonymous social media platform ‘YikYak’ were featured, and included sexual assault alligations against TKE members along with general slander against the fraternity. There were allegedly high schoolers, alcohol, and a fight at the ‘Delusions’ party.

TKE House

The new president of TKE, sophomore Dakota Robinson, reported that TKE cannot host people for now, as they are on probation.

“The Interfraternity Council  (IFC) of Knox College is now really looking for ways to improve the safety and coordination of the parties thrown on campus,”  Robinson said. “There’s a good chance they could have a representative to be at a party as a person people could go up to if they don’t feel like going up to specific fraternity members.”

Robinson reported a number of targeted acts towards TKE members committed at night since the protests, including two of his friends’ cars being keyed and TKE’s house being egged multiple times.

When asked about his current nightlife, Robinson said he spends many nights in meetings with FSL advisors.

“We just transferred positions and I’ve been picking up the slack as president [of TKE]. [As for] our own lives at night, we just really chilled out a lot. I’ve been trying to find ways to take accountability. I spend a lot of my nights meeting with advisors, getting advice on how I should run things, improving ourselves and the organization,” Robinson said.

With controversy surrounding FSL on campus – specifically TKE –  some students feel the need for other campus organizations to fill the gap and host nighttime events. Some students are looking to cultural houses on campus to lead this movement.

Junior Alyssa Stringer notes that she has been to parties at cultural houses attended by FSL members that have been positive experiences.

“I was at a party at a cultural house that happened very shortly after the [TKE] protests where a group of [Phi Gamma Deltas] walked in and everyone was looking around suspiciously. The people who lived in the house pulled them aside and gave them the run down on [house expectations]. They were fine, and it was a good time,” Stringer said.

This harmony between Knox fraternities and non-fraternity participants is not a given. DiBenedetto said they have some friends that, “will walk out of bars if they see a big group of TKE boys because they don’t want to be around them with low inhibitions.”

Stringer feels that since the frats slowed down in the nightlife scene there is a deficit of hosts for Knox nightlife, and is hopeful change is underway.

“I know some of the cultural theme houses have some plans for big parties at the end of this term, I’m hoping that they fill the gap on campus. I’ve never been to a party at a cultural house and felt icked out like I have at some other places,” Stringer said. “I think it’s because they really do care and they keep an eye on people who are there.”

Stringer, Robinson, and DiBenedetto all cited Cherry Street Brewing Company (Cherry) in Galesburg as one of the most prominent off-campus nightlife scenes. Cherry– only a four minute walk from campus– is located on the same block as three other bars, The Bar 65, Monkey Business, and Duffy’s. The Vault– a six minute walk from campus– was also mentioned.

The Cherry Street Bar

“I started going out to the bars in Galesburg after COVID. Since a lot of people turned 21 over COVID, once places started to open up people started to go to the bars more and Cherry Street got bonkers. It was insane, especially after the mask mandates [were] lifted.” DiBenedetto said.

Cherry appears to have gained its popularity with Knox’s student body with its accessible location, ease of entry, and fun atmosphere.

“People go to Cherry all the time and it’s really easy to sneak in, or at least it used to be,” DiBenedetto said. “Now they have security in the front and back entrances so there aren’t as many underclassmen as there were when I was an underclassmen.”

Despite the prices being steep for some Knox students, Cherry has attracted many night owls from the college.

“The music: mid, the drinks: too expensive for where we are, but am I still going to go and spend $30? Yes, I am,” DiBenedetto said.

Of course, partying off campus presents its own set of safety concerns.

“[Safety in Galesburg] is a little questionable sometimes. The “Townies”—a nickname for Galesburg residents—are a little questionable too, I saw someone scream at a car the other day,” Robinson said.

For some members of marginalized groups, leaving campus can be especially nerve racking.

“I think ttat often straight Knox students feel more comfortable going out and partying at night in spaces that are just filled with other Knox students, especially bars at night.” DiBenedetto said.

DiBenedetto believes that Knox’s queer community members face their own set of challenges when seeking safe nightlife events.

“Sometimes [Galesburg is] just not a place where queer people feel safe to go out and party and be in an intoxicated state,” DiBenedetto said. “I know many queer students who wouldn’t be caught dead going out and partying because they just don’t feel safe…I think that if you’re already a marginalized person being drunk in public is scary.”

“I do miss the off campus parties. There were some really fun ones last year. I don’t love the dynamic of only going to parties if you know someone that invited you,” Stringer said.

DiBenedetto also mentions the plethora of choices available to Knox students at night that don’t involve substances.

“There is a sober nightlife available to [Knox students]. I think that we are really lucky that there are a lot of groups that meet at night and there’s things that UB does like Casino Night in Taylor Lounge,” DiBenedetto said, “There’s a lot of fun shit to do at night that doesn’t involve substances which I think is really cool. Even as someone who loves to party, I will sometimes choose to not go out and to go to someone’s play or concert.”

Stringer believes Knox is in a period of transition from a pre-COVID identity described as quirky, do-it-yourself oriented, and an organization that didn’t lean into frats and athletics as much.

“I think Knox is in an era of finding herself again. A lot of the people that were here pre-COVID are gone or leaving and the upperclassmen are people who came in during COVID and only know of pre-COVID Knox through stories or visits,”  Stringer said. “Knox had a very solidified identity and now we’re getting a bunch of different people all at once which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it feels a little discontinuous from the idea I had of Knox prior to COVID versus the fresh meat coming in.”

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