Live music, free food and professors serving students—all of this and more can be found at Midnight Express. As a Gustavus tradition, at the end of each semester, students, faculty and staff come together in the Market Place for a chance to de-stress and carbo-load before finals.
This year, Midnight Express will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 15 from 10:00 p.m. to midnight. The event is a time to talk with friends, listen to music provided by the Gustavus jazz bands, dance on the open dance floor, eat free treats provided by Dining Services and even see some potential surprise guests from other groups on campus.
“I was always impressed by Midnight Express,” Associate Director of Admission David Kogler said. “Students work especially hard preparing for finals, and it was great to take a break from all the studying. For Midnight Express, the Market Place is closed down an hour early so that from 10:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m., students can have free food, listen to the jazz bands and relax on the night before the first day of finals. It’s nice to have profs and staff wishing you luck and serving you chicken wings.”
The goal of Midnight Express is to provide students with a chance to take a break from their hard work and studying before finals begin, according to the Peer Assistants (PAs), who are sponsoring the event this semester. The event is designed to give students a little relief from all of their hard work at a time that is typically the peak of stress for most students. “We want students to nourish their minds and bodies with some good food and some deep breaths away from the books,” the PA office said.
Students are encouraged to come and go as they please from the event, or stay and listen to the music if they want. “There is nothing better than listening to great jazz music and holiday songs while spending time with friends!” Terena Wilkens, adjunct instructor of theatre and dance who has been helping out at Midnight Express for many years, said.
Not surprisingly, this event is extremely well attended. According to Wilkens, students line up extremely early for the event. By the time the doors open at 10:00 p.m., the line usually stretches all the way to the library. Because of this, students are encouraged to get there early to ensure that they get some of the free food.
Usually, food offerings include chicken wings, soft pretzels, ice cream and various breakfast items. The food will be served by a handful of professors, along with President and Mrs. Ohle.
Both students and faculty members enjoy the fact that the professors serve the students. In fact, Wilkens said that one of her favorite parts of Midnight Express is the fact that she gets to serve students. “They have all worked hard all semester, and this is our chance to give back to them. It’s fun to see students outside of class, taking a break from their studies.”
Wilkens said that she really appreciates the chance to give back to the students and that the event is also a great opportunity for faculty who would not normally work together to collaborate and get to know each other.
Another benefit of having faculty and staff working at the event is that the PAs, who plan and organize the event, have the opportunity to sit back and enjoy it along with their peers.
It is an extremely popular event, and many people like this school tradition. “Everyone goes to Midnight Express,” Junior Political Science major Colleen Peterson, a peer assistant, said. “It’s just an incredible time of high energy and good food. If you think that it’s packed during lunch or dinner, the Midnight Express has the Market Place packed [even more].”
So mark your calendars: Reading Day (Dec. 15) at 10:00 p.m. in the Market Place. Judging from the student and faculty excitement about the event, this year’s Midnight Express should be another success. Plus, who can pass up free food?