SLE hosts ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ screening to increase student engagement

It currently stands as Sony Pictures’ highest-grossing movie ever. It earned the third-best Christmas box office in history. It is Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with over 400 critic reviews and a 93% rating. The more-than-25,000 audience reviews have garnered it an audience score of 98%.
And on Tuesday, April 12, it came to Allegheny College.
Students flocked to the Raymond P. Shafer Auditorium in the Henderson Campus Center to watch “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” the latest film installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
This marks the second screening that the Student Leadership and Engagement office has orchestrated during the spring semester. Shafer Auditorium hosted “Encanto” on Friday, Jan. 28.
“No Way Home” appeared to be a proper successor to the Disney feature, according to Associate Dean For Student Leadership and Engagement Jennifer Foxman, ’89.
“When we had to pick two (movies), we thought ‘Spider-Man’ looked fun, and people seemed excited about it, so we jumped on that one,” Foxman said.
In the hour leading up to the showing, MCU enthusiasts could enjoy free popcorn and play Marvel-themed trivia in the campus center lobby for a chance to win a variety of prizes, such as a vacuum.
Prior to the big day, Student Life Coordinator for the Upper-Class Cohort Annie Custer explained that the pre-party was the result of a collaborative effort between residential advisors. Even though the event was organized by a select group of RAs, she said, anyone was invited regardless of where they lived.
“Residence Life doesn’t usually sponsor big movies,” Custer said. “But North Village and (Caflisch Hall) are teaming together and pooling some of their funds (for) this big event in the (campus center) lobby … we’ll have plenty of popcorn and snacks and giveaways and fun to be had.”

Residence Life doesn’t usually sponsor big movies, but North Village and Caflisch Hall are teaming together…for this big event.”

— Annie Custer

Movie screenings at Allegheny used to occur on a weekly basis. Foxman recalled the Wednesday night movies in Shafer during her time as a student at Allegheny.
“People just came,” Foxman said. “It was a good study break in the middle of the week.”
SLE will use the feedback from students to determine if a similar tradition should begin with this new generation of Allegheny students — if not weekly, then once or twice monthly. Weather permitting, outdoor screenings are also a possibility.
According to Foxman, the “Encanto” showing was a success with moviegoers. She estimated that between 75 and 80 students attended. Similar to the Marvel pre-party for “No Way Home,” a Disney after-party allowed students to decorate their own doors on paper and talk about what they had watched.
Assistant Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life Eric Stolar said these movie nights provide an easy opportunity for students to get out of their residence halls, regardless of their interests and their personalities. Post-film activities in particular, like the aforementioned “Encanto” door-decorating event, allows students to meet people who share the same affinity for the movie on the big screen.
“If you’re an introverted person that’s not really comfortable going to a big program where we have big, flashy things, (it) might be less intimidating to come to a movie with a couple of friends or sit next to a couple people at a movie that you’re really excited to see and have some conversations based off of that,” Stolar added. “You watch the movie, maybe get to go collect something after or do something after … you’re talking with other people who just watched that movie, and maybe that sparks some interest.”
These movie screenings are part of a larger initiative to increase the number of events held on campus. This summer, Foxman and Stolar plan to sort through the comments they have received from the Student Life Survey, as well as from meetings with student organizations, to see what events students would be most receptive to.
“One of the things that we really want to put some focus on next year is bringing back a pretty comprehensive and robust leadership development program and working with existing student organizations,” Foxman said.
Foxman added that she also hopes to reinstate student leadership retreats formerly available to Allegheny students. Emerging Leaders Retreats allowed freshmen to meet each other and see where they would like to get involved. Other retreats, designed for representatives of various student organizations, had students leave campus for a few days to discuss community and working together to have a positive effect on campus.
Foxman also discussed the possibility of spontaneous events when, for example, the week has been stressful.
Student input, both Foxman and Stolar stressed, is key in planning for the future. They want to ensure that their initiatives reflect the interests of those who these initiatives are for.
“We want to make sure that we’re being productive and efficient with our time (by) providing materials that students actually want … especially after COVID, when so many people lost out on their favorite activities,” Stolar said. “A lot of incoming students are used to long periods of isolation where it’s a little bit (tough) to navigate a social scene.”
Custer said that given the many roles that RAs have in addition to their position in Residence Life, they will naturally cross paths with SLE and collaborate on events, as indicated by the pre-party.
“Allegheny is a place where students have an opportunity to be involved in all the pockets of campus,” Custer said. “I know that there’s some overlap with (Foxman’s) office and Student Leadership.”
If student feedback does indicate that movie nights should become a more regular activity, Foxman wants to collaborate with student organizations to show a broader selection of films.
“We’ve been in touch, for example, with some student organizations that are looking to do some … films with female directors,” Foxman added. “As we look ahead to next year, if this is something that students are interested in, (we could) have a Disney movie, an action movie, (and) some other themed movies.”
Foxman invited students to reach out with specific requests for films that they would like to see on the big screen. She and Stolar are available at [email protected] and [email protected] respectively. They can also be reached in person in the Student Life Suite, which is located on the third floor of the campus center.