Family Weekend schedule’s late release

Butler will host an in-person Family Weekend from Oct. 1 to Oct. 3. Photo courtesy of butler.edu. 

ASHLEY CALLAGHAN | STAFF REPORTER | acallaghan@butler.edu

Over the past few weeks, the delayed release of schedule and registration materials for Butler’s upcoming Family Weekend has been a major topic of conversation on the Butler University Unofficial Parent & Student Facebook Page. Family Weekend is an annual event that invites students’ families to campus for a weekend to enjoy athletic events, academic showcases and extracurricular activities. This year, it will be held from Friday, Oct. 1 until Sunday, Oct. 3.

Meg Haggerty, director of new student and family programs, said a detailed schedule of events and a registration form for Family Weekend is typically released about one month before the weekend begins. This year, the schedule was made available on Monday, Sept. 20 — 11 days before the weekend begins. The registration form was made available on Saturday, Sept. 25 —  6 days before the weekend begins. 

Haggerty said that this year’s schedule and registration release was delayed for several reasons, including the fact that Family Weekend was virtual last year, so this is the first time that events had to be planned with COVID-19 in mind. She also said that, this year, her office made an extra effort to reach out to various organizations on campus and give them an opportunity to host activities, but coordinating this was time-consuming because it required extra input. 

Additionally, Butler anticipates a larger-than-normal crowd of Family Weekend first-timers this year because it was virtual last year, so this Family Weekend schedule will require increased capacity. 

“When we were planning, we were trying to be cognizant of the fact that sophomores’ families have never had a Family Weekend experience,” Haggerty said. “We want to make sure that we have enough infrastructure and events happening so that we can honor all students who have never had Family Weekend.”

Alyssa Miller, a first-year parent traveling from Chicago, said she is new to Butler and wasn’t sure if the delay was standard. 

“I don’t really have anything to compare it to,” Miller said. “I wasn’t sure if that was the norm or if my expectations were too high, but I do like to plan, so it did seem kind of last-minute.” 

Leading up to the schedule release, many parents contacted the Office of New Student and Family Programs to find out specific timing details for purposes of finalizing travel arrangements. Haggerty said she made every effort to respond to each of these inquiries. 

“I’ve received a lot of phone calls and emails out of worry or concern that they’ve missed something, or that they’ve missed an opportunity to sign up,” Haggerty said. “And so, I’ve answered every single one that has come through, or at least the ones that have reached me. I’m sure there are more on the unofficial Facebook page. But the ones that I’ve reached out to, I was giving them an overview of, if you’re trying to make travel plans, here are the things that you should know.”

Haggerty’s outline for these concerned parents included an emphasis on Saturday’s programming because many families are unable to arrive on Friday or stay through Sunday evening. She said that the majority of programs are scheduled for Saturday in hopes of dissuading parents’ fears that they will miss any major events if they arrive late or leave early.

Lee-Ashley Bonfield, a first-year parent traveling from North Carolina, said she believes that the delayed schedule release was stressful for many families because of their unfamiliarity with Butler and with what the weekend typically looks like. 

“I totally understand that people want to have something to do and don’t feel comfortable not knowing what their schedule is gonna look like,” Bonfield said. “A lot of people don’t have a high comfort level with being in a new state or a new city, so they want to know where they’re supposed to go.”

Now that the event schedule has been made available, families have over 20 activities to choose from when planning their weekend. Some of the major activities that will take place include a showing of Netflix’s “Dogs” episode featuring Butler’s live mascot program, trivia games with bookstore gift cards as prizes, planetarium shows in the Holcomb Observatory and Planetarium, family brunch with faculty and staff and rehearsal viewings of “The Nutcracker” performed by the Department of Dance. 

Nathan Marohn, a first-year biology major, said he believes these Family Weekend activities are a great opportunity for students’ families to establish their own community with other Butler families.

“Students have had this first six weeks of school to meet other students, so now that we’ve developed friendships, we want those friends to meet our families and we want to meet our friends’ families,” Marohn said. “Family Weekend will help us grow connections between families and get closer to our friends.”

In addition to extracurricular activities, there will be several opportunities for families to attend athletic events, including men’s football on Saturday afternoon, men’s soccer on Saturday night and women’s soccer on Sunday afternoon. 

Haggerty said that the variety of available activities is intentional because it allows families to “choose their own adventure” and to enjoy spending time together in any way they desire.

“It’s really about just finding the things that will bring comfort and make campus feel like home for you,” Haggerty said. “And it’s about choosing to be a part of a special occasion honoring students, their families and the chance to come together.”

To learn more about Family Weekend and its events, visit www.butler.edu/familyweekend or contact the Office of New Student & Family Programs at 317-940-8648.

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