The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

U-Night in 2019. Credit: Emily Xu

Penn administration will formally address the Class of 2024 in person for the first time ever on April 26 to celebrate U-Night — which marks the end of sophomore year and the halfway point of the class’ time at Penn.

U-Night — which Class Board 2024 organized — is returning for the first time since its inaugural event in 2019, and is set to take place on College Green from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., although organizers suggested that students arrive at 7:30 to line up. Students will participate in a lantern-lighting activity, hear speeches from Interim President Wendell Pritchett and members of the Class Board, enter a raffle for prizes, and take photos in a photo booth.

According to an email sent by the 2024 Class Board, students can pick up their U-Night T-shirts in advance, but the board will also distribute shirts on the day of the event. Students who attend the event will receive a lantern as well as free food.

Since the 2019 edition, no other class of sophomores has experienced the tradition due to COVID-19 restrictions. The Class of 2024 also experienced Penn’s first and only virtual Convocation in 2020.

“I am really looking forward to seeing everybody in the class all together and getting addressed by the President for the first time, and I think that’s like a very classic Penn experience that our class never got,” Class Board 2024 Vice President of External Affairs and Wharton sophomore Shan Shan Liang said.

2024 Class Board Vice President of Finance and Wharton sophomore Annabelle Noyes added that the Class of 2024 has had to handle a lot of difficult circumstances due to beginning college in a pandemic — but these shared experiences make U-Night particularly important. She and her class had a completely remote first-year experience for the fall 2020 semester — including a virtual New Student Orientation.

“This is finally going to be our night after, you know, we did lose so much from the past two years,” Noyes said.

The lantern ceremony, a trademark of U-Night, is meant to symbolize unity among students. Students will turn on their lanterns to respond to a series of questions about various personal, social, and academic milestones. Although the questions will highlight similarities and differences between members of the class, Noyes said she hopes the ceremony will help members of the class realize that they are not alone.

Although she said that the idea of crossing the halfway mark to graduation may not be exciting for everyone, Noyes encouraged the class to view U-Night as a chance to take advantage of the academic freedom they've gained after choosing a major and fulfilling many general education requirements.

Noyes added that a “lack of generational knowledge” was a particular hurdle in organizing the event, adding that the 2024 Class Board navigated these challenges by reaching out to former students who planned the inaugural U-Night.

2021 College graduate Charles Curtis-Thomas Jr. helped organize the first U-Night, and mentored the 2024 Class Board. He said that he created the tradition after noticing that the next time his class would congregate together after first-year convocation would be Hey Day in junior year. He and his board wanted to fill this gap by creating an event for the sophomore class to share.

Curtis-Thomas added that U-Night played an important role in cultivating a sense of camaraderie for the Class of 2021. He said that many of his friends from Penn still have their lanterns from U-Night, and some even gave them as gifts to family members.

Noyes said the experience the 2024 Class Board gained in organizing their first in-person event will lay a strong foundation for the future.

“We just planted the seeds for a really successful next two years,” said Noyes. “We can do it together because we are united as a class.”