October 29, 2007

Parents Get Weekend Glimpse of Cornell Life

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This weekend hundreds of first-year Cornell students shared their experience on the Hill with parents, siblings and even grandparents over First-Year Family Weekend.
As published in the First Year Family Weekend Schedule of Events, the three-day event was designed to give “Cornell families the opportunity to gain insight into how to support their students as they pursue their Cornell degrees. This is a time to walk in [the] students’ shoes and explore all that the campus and local community have to offer. First-Year Family Weekend showcases the breadth and depth of activities to which [the] student is exposed.”
This was accomplished by offering numerous on- and off-campus activities spanning early Friday morning to late afternoon on Sunday. Parents were given the opportunity to sit through 62 different classes from all seven colleges, attend sessions aimed at introducing the parents to the type of classes in which their children are enrolled and appreciate what their children should expect as their years at Cornell unfold.
Friday night the parents were entertained by Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert in one of two shows held that night, and Saturday night parents were exposed student groups like the Cornell Chorus, Wind Ensemble, the a cappella group The Key Elements and Ithacaid XVI, who kept the evening going late into the night.
Parents Devin and Marian Rutkowski, in Ithaca visiting their son Devin, said, “Overall the experience has been absolutely wonderful. Everyone has been so friendly, and there has been so much to do. I’m very impressed with the fact that we could see a first-rate comedian Friday night, hear a professional wind ensemble on Saturday night and go apple picking on Sunday. There are such a variety of activities to do in such a short period of time.”
First-Year Family Weekend represents an important opportunity for Cornell to project a positive image, and the University prepared extensively for the event. Dormitories were decorated in anticipation of parental scrutiny, construction trucks were removed from the Thurston Avenue Bridge and a banner was hung at Balch Arch.
Not everyone was able to host their family this weekend, though. For those students, a weekend meal at the dining hall surrounded by immediate and extended Cornell families bore little resemblance to a normal dining hall experience. However, some students did not seem to mind the absence of their own parents. Michelle Garvie ’11, whose parents could not make it to Ithaca for the weekend, still had good things to say about the event.
“First-Year Family Weekend was still a lot of fun even though I didn’t have my parents here,” Garvie said. “I am not disappointed because I’m going to see them soon. It was nice to see other people with their families. It is nice to know that families support everybody, even from really far away.”
Aside from the occasional parent spotted partying with their child on Friday and Saturday night, the parents were more like sight-seers on Cornell’s campus.
“It was really weird seeing all the older and younger people, it was like tourist Cornell. There were people taking pictures and stuff, and I see these places every day, so it’s funny,” said Garvie ’11.
Overall, for students, it was life as usual, or as normal as it gets, with a few parents thrown in. And for the Rutkowski’s, the weekend left them wanting more.
“There should be a family weekend every fall,” the Rutkowski parents said, “so we could see our son as a freshman, sophomore, junior and a senior.”