There's less conflict when students go home to see their families because Family Weekend brings so much traffic to Harrisonburg. 

Family Weekend can be very fun, but it can also bring some conflict. Finding places to eat that suit everyone’s interests is a challenge already, but finding a place to eat without waiting extended periods of time is another. Everything around town becomes much busier, and campus becomes infiltrated with the rush of reuniting families. Rather than one’s family coming to Harrisonburg to spend time together, it’s good to consider the benefits of going home instead.

By going home, a student and their family could avoid all of the aggravating parts about Family Weekend, such as traffic and long waits. JMU’s undergraduate population is 19,883, which means that almost 20,000 students are expected to gather their family here in Harrisonburg. If only half of undergraduates were to bring their parents, there could be an extra 20,000 people here, making a total of 40,000 in students and parents. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the total population of Harrisonburg was 54,033 as of 2018. At this rate, excessive crowds are undeniable. 

The appeal of staying in Harrisonburg for Family Weekend is understandable. There’s an abundance of events around town and on campus that are offered for families to take part in, but the biggest of all is the weekend’s football game. Families line the parking lots to tailgate. They may eat, listen to music and chant for JMU as early as they can, and it doesn’t stop when the game ends. 

Because there are several activities going on during the weekend, it can be easy to disregard the quality time families are supposed to spend together. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the events and become preoccupied with everything else going on. The priorities shift: It’s about finding a good parking spot, making it to the game on time, watching the game and avoiding traffic at the end instead of focusing on the reunion of family and the pleasure that comes with spending time with each other. 

Although JMU doesn’t have a fall break before Thanksgiving, Family Weekend could be an opportunity to give oneself a fall break. Family Weekend lies around midterm season, and it might be nice to go home and take a break from the stressful energy around campus during this time in the semester. This way, one gives themselves an opportunity to detox from the stressful energy from having loads of work, and allows them to take time for themselves to be with people they care about. 

All in all, students would probably derive more happiness by going home for family weekend rather than having their families come here. That way, they’d be avoiding the business around the town, spending more valuable time with family because it isn’t preplanned with events and getting space from campus. It also allows for a nice break from having to deal with roommates and allows for one to sleep in their own bedroom and have a nice weekend at home before break in November. It’s a wonderful feeling when college students reunite with their families after not seeing them for an extended period of time. By going home, it’s more than just seeing family — it’s seeing everything about a town one said goodbye to.

Joanna Sommer is a sophomore media arts and design major. Contact her at sommerjj@dukes.jmu.edu