Fed up with Family Weekend

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September 28, 2007

6:18 PM

Unless your parents have boarded their flights or are half an hour away on the interstate, there’s still a chance to ask them not to visit this weekend. Otherwise, these next few paragraphs will be little more than a let-down and self-defeating in their purpose.
Alas, Family Weekend is here yet again, bringing back to mind the cataclysmic horrors of move-in day. Sure, it’s only been a month since then, but we can use a break. Since this is absurd (it’s only been a month), the next best thing to do would be to give our parents a break, vicariously relieving us of the stresses of on-campus food, insufficient funds and the therapeutic intimacies of a parent-child reunion.

p. Maybe it’s my bitter old age as a student here, but I’m not a fan of these weekends. In fact, I annually ask my parents not to attend, as we all have our separate errands to run. Besides, this weekend is really set up for freshmen parents anyway.

p. To confirm this stubborn belief of mine, I asked Beth Fagan ’11 and Olivia Walch ’11 from Oregon and Virginia, respectively, whether their parents were planning to show their faces this weekend. The answer is no. For Fagan, they were too far. For Walch, too close. On the other hand, Michelle Kelley ’09 explained that her parents were on their way over.

p. I did some research to get to the truth of things, dropping by the Dean of Students office to talk to Graduate Assistant Ben Boone. We chewed the fat a while, not talking much about the impending parental orgy of academic activities, athletic events, orientations and lectures to eclipse this weekend. He did tell me, though, about the Family Weekend website (www.wm.edu/studentaffairs/familyweekend). Eventually, I talked to Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Ginger Ambler, who provided me with a pretty accurate idea of what this weekend’s all about.

p. According to Ambler, “anywhere from 1,000 to 1,200 families register for the weekend each year,” with slightly more parents of seniors and freshmen attending. Since the weekend isn’t funded by the College, parents actually pay to visit their kids, enjoying free shit along the way (continental breakfasts and brunches, mainly). Again, I was referred to the website, where, upon entering, I was inundated by announcements of weekend golf, a string of women’s soccer games, concerts, lectures, football, a presidential address, street fairs, high-protein foods, international study expos, picnics, museum exhibits, misguided campus tours and, my favorite, open classes.

p. I’m not too sure about these open classes. Parents in our classes are like us during Blowout. Some parents really have no idea what they’re paying this College to teach their kids, and likewise some professors hold really strong opinions, as they should. In fact, if you are a professor and are reading this, make it a point to jump about the classroom in hysteria, foaming at the mouth, ranting and raving like mad.

p. I don’t know, while mulling over Family Weekend, I think maybe it’s not so bad after all. Granted, you’ll fall further behind in your reading, and you probably won’t be able go out Saturday night, but then again you wouldn’t have been anyway. If you really want to see your parents before Fall Break, have them visit another weekend when it’s not so crowded. They won’t have to pay $30 to see you, and you can lead the tour yourself. As for lectures, well, I’m sure the professor won’t care if you have your mom sit in on a Tuesday morning chemistry lab. In addition, there are plenty of ways of getting a free lunch around here (asking nicely works best). But even quick family visits can get hectic, in which case there’s e-mail, great for maintaining personal relationships with loved ones.

p. I will end by returning to Ambler’s argument: “Family Weekend is all about sharing W&M traditions through the events on the schedule — athletics, the history of the campus, excellent faculty lectures, W&M Sings concert showcasing the a cappella community, etc. I am sure there are some traditions not on our schedule as well, including a nice dinner out with Mom and Dad and shopping with them off campus.”

p. __Sherif Abdelkarim is a junior at the College__

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