SU Tradition Celebrates Families

Written by Giulia Giuffre
Megaphone Staff Writer

This year, Family Days celebrates 100 years of the Megaphone. The events that comprise Family Days begin on Friday, Feb. 15 and continue till the afternoon of Sunday, Feb. 17.

Family Days has been a Southwestern tradition for at least the last 13 years. Prior to being called Family Days, the tradition was known as Parent’s Weekend. The name was changed in order to incorporate the students’ whole families, not just their parents.

“I remember visiting my older sister when it was called Parent’s Weekend and having a lot of fun around the campus,” Elizabeth Ferrick, a sophomore, said.

Family Days give the parents and families of students the opportunity to experience life at Southwestern.

“We want parents to connect with the University and share in what their students’ experience on campus,” Megan Radison said, Associate Director of Alumni and Parent Relations.

One of the annual Family Days events, Classes Without Quizzes, is a favorite among parents.

During Classes Without Quizzes, parents get the chance to sit in on a class similar to those students at Southwestern attend everyday. Most of these classes are a sample of this year’s First Year Seminars.

One of the Classes Without Quizzes, Journalism: Telling True Stories, is in celebration of this year’s theme. Bob Bednar, associate professor, chair of the Communication Studies Department and chair of the American Studies Program, and Rachel Rigdon, a Southwestern junior and editor-in-chief of The Megaphone, will be teaching the journalism class.

“Students are welcomed and encouraged to attend Classes Without Quizzes and all events with their parents and families,” Radison said.

On Saturday, student organizations on campus will host individual open houses. During check-in, the Information Desk will provide information on the student organizations and the location of the student organization receptions.

One such reception is coordinated by the student organization E.B.O.N.Y. E.B.O.N.Y. will host an African-American Student and Parent Reception on Saturday.

The Megaphone will be hosting an Open House on Saturday. Editors, writers and photographers of the student-run newspaper will be in The Megaphone office to answer questions about The Megaphone and what happens behind the scenes of the newspaper.

Families will have the opportunity to purchase subscriptions to The Megaphone during the Open House and throughout the weekend.

Some offices, such as the Admission Office and the Financial Aid Office are open during the weekend.

The Center for Academic Success will be hosting an Open House on Friday. The Open House will give parents the opportunity to discuss the resources available to students.

For the second year, Family Days will include a civic engagement project. Last year, Southwestern families volunteered with a Habitat for Humanity project.

Participates spent Saturday morning at Georgetown’s Old Mill Property helping with landscaping and site cleanup.

This year, families have the opportunity to spend Saturday morning volunteering at Georgetown’s largest local community garden. The Community Garden is close to campus. Participates can help work in the greenhouse, plant crops or expand garden space.

“The civic engagement project celebrates the many volunteer hours Southwestern students collected last year,” Radison said.

On Saturday, there will be a groundbreaking for the Wilhelmina Cullen Admission Center. The new building will house the admission and financial aid office. It will also be a sort of welcome center for prospective students. The groundbreaking will be on sight between the Roy and Lillie Cullen Building and the Mood-Bridwell Hall.

Before dinner on Saturday, families can attend the event Explore Experiential Learning at Southwestern. This is an interactive session with students discussing their experience participating in out-of-class activities, such as study abroad, civic engagement and internships.

These activities allow students to learn outside the traditional classroom and provide a connection between learning in class and out of class.

Some events, such as Slice of Life and the Alumni Ring Ceremony, are targeted more towards upperclassmen.

Slice of Life is a presentation by various Southwestern Alumni. Four or five recent graduates from various professions will talk about their transitions from student life to professional life.

There will also be a question and answer session with the alumni.

The Alumni Ring Ceremony is a relatively new tradition during Family Days. During the ceremony, President Schrum presents juniors and seniors with the official alumni ring. The new ring binds all Southwestern Alumni with an outward symbol of the Southwestern experience.

“Events like Slice of Life and the Alumni Ring Ceremony help begin the transition from student to alumni,” Radison said.

Another event scheduled during Family Days is the Honors Convocation. In this annual formal ceremony, students receive an academic achievement honor from the provost.

“Some of the events are information sessions where parents can learn more about what is happening around the campus, such as the new buildings planned,” Radison said.

Events, such as the Continental Breakfast with President Jake B. Schrum and the Southwestern Parents’ Forum, provide information about the current and future plans for the campus. Both events include a question and answer session with Southwestern faculty and staff.

Throughout the weekend, the A. Frank Smith, Jr. Library Center is celebrating the 100 years of the Megaphone with a special exhibit. In the Library’s Forum, there will be a display entitled “Allegories of the Present: A History of the Periodical from 1690 to 1900.”

“The exhibit will present a selection of periodicals and magazines from the earliest years of serial publications to the late 1800s,” Kathryn Stallard, Head of Special Collections, said. “Viewers will see a transition from book-like publications printed with small dense type to color illustrated magazines by the mid-19th century.”

There will also be a number of sporting events during Family Days, including basketball, baseball and lacrosse.

During half-time of the Saturday’s Men’s Basketball game, President Schrum will award the recipient of the “Martha D. Hurtado College Town Award.” This award recognizes a citizen, organization or business that works to bridge the relationship between Southwestern and Georgetown and makes Georgetown feel more like a “college town.”

There are also a few chances for campus tours, faculty recitals and meals with the family in the Commons.

“I’m really looking forward to watching the cello recital with my family,” Marie Castagna, a sophomore, said.

Also, there will be a new art exhibit in the gallery of the newly renovated Sarofim School of Fine Arts.

Last year, 585 families registered for Family Days and celebrated 90 years of the Pirate mascot.

“Last year, my family really liked the open gym hours, the recitals and attending the classes without quizzes,” Ferrick said.

In December, over the winter break, invitations to Family Days were sent out to all Southwestern students’ families. The invitation included an itinerary of the events scheduled for the weekend. Families will receive the final program of the events when they arrive on campus.

For more information about Family Days, visit the website Families can register on this website or with the registration form attached to the invitation. The deadline for registration is Monday, Feb. 11, 2008.

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