Family Days, an annual tradition here at Southwestern, will take place this weekend, Feb. 19-21. Family Days is a time for the families of SU students to visit campus for the weekend and experience the world that we all live in day in and day out here at school. It is also, of course, a time that students can spend with their families in a more relaxed and fun environment than during Orientation, sometimes one of the few other times that parents are on campus.
This year’s theme for the weekend is “Off the Beaten Path” and is an effort to show parents the interesting programs that we have available here, the different buildings that there are on campus and the unique student-faculty interactions that exist. As Assistant Director for Alumni and Parent Relations Grace Pyka said, “The overarching purpose of Family Days is to provide our families with the opportunity to experience a little part of Southwestern’s academic and student life and learn about the various resources and opportunities for students on campus.”
A whole host of programs has been set up for the three days, all of which can be seen at the event website, www.sualumni.net/familydays. Friday’s events commence with campus tours by the Southwestern Ambassadors, followed by SU softball games. A dinner will be held, after which families can head over to the Robertson for the men’s and women’s final basketball games of the regular season against our biggest rival Trinity. It’s a “blackout game”, so fans are encouraged to wear all black in support of our Pirates. Following the basketball games there will be delicious s’mores to be enjoyed in the Howry Center, as well as a presentation of “The Vagina Monologues” by the student feminist group in the Mood-Bridwell Atrium.
Saturday morning kicks off with the Honors Convocation in which parents can see their students be recognized for their achievements here at
Southwestern. A reception will be held after the ceremony with President Jake Schrum, and for lunch families can enjoy a special brunch in the Commons.
In the early afternoon, parents can enjoy the “Off the Beaten Path” building (in quotes?) tours which give family a look into our academic buildings and all the work that goes on within their halls. Tours will be given of the Robertson Center, Alma Thomas Fine Arts Building, F.W. Olin Psychology Labs, Fondren-Jones Science Hall, Mood-Bridwell Atrium and the Cullen Building, and will be led by faculty and staff.
This tour is a direct result of the surveys that parents are asked to take each year after the end of family days.
“This has been a parent request year after year,” said Pyka, adding, “We are anxious to show families the unique opportunities Southwestern presents to students, including the close academic relationships formed between students and professors.”
Following the building tours, Career Services will be offering a seminar on networking and cracking into the job market that is designed to help parents and students. Then, parents can “go to class” with some of the professors and get the experience of being in a modern college class here at SU through the “Classes Without Quizzes” sessions.
Another main attraction is the Student Organizations Open House, happening from 3 to 4 p.m. across campus. There are 12 different groups participating, many of which are first timers. The organizations include Alpha Delta Pi Sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority, Delta Delta Delta Sorority, Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity, The Megaphone, Cooper Street Improv Group, the Rotaract Club of Southwestern, Model United Nations, Colleges Against Cancer, SU International Club and the Writing Center.
The Southwestern Ring Ceremony will be happening Saturday afternoon in the Chapel for all those juniors and seniors who have enough hours to purchase a class ring. The students will be presented with their rings, “an outward symbol of the Southwestern Experience,” and are then invited to attend a reception. The evening will finish off with a concert by the Austin Civic Orchestra in the Alma Thomas Theater. The orchestra will be performing their “Winter Concert,” and admission is free for Southwestern students, $10 for parents.
The weekend finishes off with a delicious Sunday brunch, a special worship service in the Chapel, and a men’s baseball game against Millsaps College in the afternoon.
This year’s program includes many new additions, including fun night activities, the building tours, and exhibitions by more student groups. These changes are due to parent and student feedback, and the administration hopes that the changes will make the weekend even more enjoyable for family and students.
But why should family attend these events in the first place? According to Pyka, Family Days is a great way to share college life with family.
“If I were a student, I would be anxious to show my parents the experiences that I have on a daily basis. It is sometimes difficult to explain these things to parents over the phone or in an e-mail. It is so much more fun to experience them together.”
So call your parents, have them pre-register online and get ready to enjoy a weekend of fun with your family.