Story by Hayleigh Syens
Every Friday night at 9 p.m., Sussman Theater fills up with Drake students eager to spend the next few hours being entertained. Clutching their cups of popcorn, the students grow more excited when the lights dim.
Even after an entire year, Free Movie Friday at Drake University continues to be one of the most popular and successful student activities.
Free Movie Friday came about when Student Senate realized that they had extra student activity fees that needed spending.
“We were brainstorming on how we could spend [the student activity fees] and what we could do with that. During one of our conversations, it came up that a movie night was the most requested alternative to alcohol on the weekend,” said Zach Keller, Free Movie Friday co-chair. “We came up with the idea from there.”
Although the idea for Free Movie Friday started in Senate, it is now under the advisement of the Student and Leadership Center. Free Movie Friday is completely student-run and separate from both Student Senate and the Student Activities Board.
While Drake offers other activities for students on the weekend, none has such a constant large turnout as Free Movie Friday. If students show up too late before the start of the movie, they often struggle to find a seat.
“I think it’s been so successful because students want something that’s consistent, something that they don’t have to be aware of or make sure they see a poster for. It’s going to be every Friday at nine, regardless of what the movie is,” said Carly Kinzler, the other Free Movie Friday co-chair.
Most of the movies shown by Free Movie Friday are pre-release, meaning that Free Movie Friday has access to them before they come out on DVD.
Movies in the past have ranged from The Conjuring to Monsters University.
“They always get a good mix of movies that I think appeals to a large audience,” said Caitie Allen, a sophomore English major, “It offers students an alternative to drinking on Friday nights, and it’s a good thing to do with your friends.”
The only significant change to Free Movie Friday since the beginning has been the introduction of an alternative to noisy and wasteful popcorn bags.
“We added the popcorn cups because if you ever see when there’s a bunch of bags, it sounds like static going on in the beginning of the movie because everyone’s reaching in,” said Keller.
“We also wanted to do something that was environmentally friendly, so they’re reusable popcorn cups that people can bring home and then bring back the next week,” said Kinzler.
Free Movie Friday not only provides an activity for students, but also reinforces the sense of community that Drake students feel for one another.
“Students really react as a crowd, which is something you don’t always get in a movie theater because you feel so separate from the people around you,” said Kinzler.