MAACness catches a case of election fever

By Jen Maldonado

Students pick up their tickets for Midnight MAACness in Alumni Gym on Thursday. The decision to ticket the event was made because more than 100 students were turned away from the event last year.

Registering to vote in the upcoming presidential election isn’t something most students would expect to see at Rider’s annual Midnight MAACness event, but this year, along with the food, music and festivities, the night is reminding students to make sure their voices are heard in November.

This year’s theme is “Bronc the Vote” and will feature Pre-MAACness activities, beginning at 8 p.m., in the Student Recreation Center (SRC). It will be “tailored to American pastimes and Americana food,” as well as have tables for voter registration, according to Karin Torchia, associate director of Athletics. Midnight MAACness will take place at 10:30 p.m., with doors opening at 10 p.m., in Alumni Gym.

“With the election coming up, we wanted to create civic awareness and celebrate pride in the USA,” Torchia said. “You’ll see a lot of red, white and blue at Pre-MAACness.”
Nick Barbati, assistant director of Campus Life for activities and student engagement, is looking forward to the theme as well.

“We can’t do this theme every year because there isn’t always a presidential election,” he said. “We’re mixing civic responsibility with the most exciting event on campus.”
For the past few years, MAACness has received such a large audience that students were being turned away from the event. Two years ago, about 50 to 75 students weren’t allowed in, and last year more than 100 students couldn’t enter the gym, according to Torchia. To help resolve this issue, for the first time students need to get a ticket from the Alumni Gym ticket booth, which students can still get today between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
“We don’t want to anger students because the event is for them and to celebrate school pride,” Torchia said. “We hate that we had to do that [in the past] but we have a fire code we have to adhere to and unfortunately, we can’t let everyone in.”

Barbati agrees with Torchia and feels having tickets for MAACness is a “wonderful move in the right direction.”

“Having a successful event means being safe,” Barbati said. “This way, we won’t have students turned away.”

Midnight MAACness has become a Rider tradition. It began in 1994, according to Torchia, to introduce the men’s and women’s basketball teams and celebrate the start of the season. Various groups on campus are involved in organizing the event, including Student Government Association, Student Entertainment Council, Emerging Leaders, the Athletic Department, the Office of Campus Life and the Association of Commuting Students.

Students are eager to see what Midnight MAACness has in store for them this time.
“I have never been to MAACness before because I transferred here freshman year and missed it [and] then sophomore year I couldn’t go,” said junior marketing major Shauna Scarano. “With no football team, basketball is the hot sport at Rider so I’m looking forward to going this year.”

The timing of this event also appeals to students, contributing to its popularity
“Midnight MAACness is one of my favorite events on campus,” junior elementary education major Sylwia Denko said. “Everyone has already felt the pressure of a new semester so this event is scheduled at a perfect time where it gives us a fun, safe way to take a break from the schoolwork. Not only do we get a break from all the stress but we also gather as a Rider family and celebrate with a lot of school spirit.”

The elements of MAACness that students have enjoyed will still be there, including the Bronc mascot’s elaborate entrance, the free T-shirt voucher and performances by the cheerleaders and the dance team. At Pre-MAACness, there will be the usual games and giveaways but to go along with this year’s theme, there will be a presidential history contest and Abe Lincoln, Lady Liberty and Uncle Sam look-a-likes in the SRC. These are all part of the “spectacular, fun new things” featured at the event, according to Barbati

For students who are unable to get a ticket, there will be giant screens in the SRC where they will be able to watch the event or they can watch it online where it will be streamed live, according to Torchia.

“This year, MAACness goes a little beyond celebrating the basketball season, which we’re really proud of,” Torchia said.

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