Brown graduated from UM in 2003 with a degree in communication studies. Photo by Kat Bell
It’s not hyperbolic to say that among current players, the name Marion Brown is near-synonymous with the game of College Night. Some might even argue Brown is a staple of the University itself, a statement that becomes less shocking as one delves into how the two are so inextricably intertwined.
Long before Brown graduated from UM in 2003, her godmother attended the University in the 1940s. Earlier still, Brown’s grandmother was a member of the class of 1912. With this family lineage paving her path, it’s only natural that when she found her way to the University the experience was more akin to returning home than leaving it behind.
“Of course, Montevallo piqued my interest,” said Brown. “Thankfully, I made the perfect choice.”
It wasn’t long before Brown found her niche, merging seamlessly into organizations like the three student publications: Montage, The Alabamian and The Tower, as well as Purple Side.
“I was introduced to some pretty fierce purples right off the bat,” said Brown. “They explained this thing that they called College Night. I have to admit, it was pretty tempting and they sold me pretty quickly.”
However, it wasn’t until after her first College Night experience that Brown truly understood the reverence others had for the tradition.
Her first job was acting as fly rail operator, bringing the production’s scenery in and out. Brown also enjoyed working on the sets, preferring tech-focused jobs as she wasn’t an “on-stage girl.” She later worked as lighting board operator as well.
“I was just as happy to serve in that capacity as I was in any other, because it was important just to be a part of it. It didn’t really matter what perspective it was from,” said Brown.
Considering her enthusiasm for the tradition, it should come as no surprise that Brown eventually became Purple Side leader.
“I guess I was insane,” Brown remarked with a laugh.
In a slightly more serious tone (but only slightly), Brown explained that it was a combination of her own experience and the faith and guidance from older Purples that encouraged her to take the dive and run for leader.
“It is hard to decide to run, because you have to put yourself out there, your accomplishments and your weaknesses both. But I loved what it meant and what we were trying to do together,” said Brown.
Brown currently serves in two roles at UM: Director of the Office for Facility and Event Scheduling and Director of College Night.
“The job description for College Night director has a lot of small, Latin print at the bottom that I couldn’t read before I signed the dotted line,” she joked. “Where do I even begin?”
Alongside the College Night Committee, Brown is charged with a myriad of tasks to ensure the successful completion of the annual tradition.
“There’s not much I can do alone, but together we get this magical thing called College Night to happen every year,” said Brown.
Considering her longstanding relationship with the game, one might wonder how Brown’s views of the tradition have evolved over the years. According to Brown, it’s the game itself that changes.
“If things don’t change, they die. They must change to reflect the students that play the game,” said Brown. “That being said, there may be trends, but the foundation remains true no matter the time. That’s how we as alumni can speak to a Purple or Gold from 1960 as easily as we can to one from two years ago. We all share those foundational things that keep it relevant in our lives.”
The respect Brown has for College Night is its own kind of service, elevating the game’s mythos and lending to its timeless nature. Yet, Brown insists it’s the game that has serviced her over the years.
“I just want the students to understand how much pride I have in their success,” said Brown. “I watch them grow as people, learning about themselves and one another. That is my gift, and it is probably the most special, greatest gift I could receive.”